Washington — The Library of Congress has offered a glimpse of its new acquisition of 36,000 cartoons -- three centuries' worth of drawings that ranged in theme from comic to political, and social to cinematic.
The drawings, which were acquired from collector and former cartoonist Art Wood, will more than double the library's holdings of cartoons. Library officials gave reporters on Tuesday a sneak peek of some of the new drawings, and the collection will be open to the public in 2005.
Wood drew cartoons for the Richmond News Leader and the Pittsburgh Press. He grew up in the Washington area and kept his collection in the cellar of his home in suburban Washington.
Among his treasures is a color transparency from Walt Disney's first full-length animated feature from 1937, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," and a rare 1921 drawing by Elzie Segar of "Olive Oyl" -- a decade before he created her friend "Popeye."
There's a 150-year-old satirical drawing by British artist George Cruikshank on the evils of drink, one by Richard Outcault of "The Yellow Kid," grandfather of all comic strips, and a fantastic voting machine rendered by Rube Goldberg.
Librarian of Congress James Billington, a social historian, praised cartoons as an invaluable aid to researchers looking for insight into the lives of ordinary people.
"Teachers are always asking us to include more cartoons on the library's Web site," he said in accepting the collection. "It's been found particularly useful in the classroom."