In 2011, well-known Knoxville editorial cartoonist, Charlie Daniel, donated his entire life’s work of hand-drawn, original cartoons to the UT Libraries. Special Collections selected more than 1,500 cartoons from that body of work to create the Charlie Daniel Editorial Cartoon Collection.
Daniel, a Virginia native, came to Knoxville in 1958 as the editorial cartoonist for the Knoxville Journal. When the paper closed in 1992, Daniel moved to the Knoxville News Sentinel, where he continues his work to this day. Daniel’s work is a rich source for those studying politics and regional history. These editorial cartoons express opinions on public and social issues of the moment and can touch upon a wide range of topics that affect our daily lives. Daniel’s cartoons can make you laugh and even sometimes cringe. But more than anything else, they make you think. Daniel has captured difficult and sometimes complex issues through the power of symbolism, satire, irony, and humor. It is clear from his work he has a sharp wit and piquant understanding of the issues he transforms into cartoons.
In an effort to preserve Daniel’s original drawings, Special Collections worked diligently to describe and organize the more than twenty thousand drawings that span more than fifty years of social and political issues. Many of the captions and dates were not a part of the original drawings, but were added later in the printing process. To make the collection accessible without this information, the cartoons have been arranged by themes. Both the physical and digital collections are organized around ten main themes: Tennessee, Knoxville/Knox County, social causes, sports, University of Tennessee, Tennessee Valley Authority, national politics, international politics, economy and taxes, and labor and strikes . The digitized drawings are prepress; they represent the state of the art as it left Daniel’s desk and not as the cartoons appeared in the printed newspaper editions.
In addition to our digital collection of Charlie Daniel’s editorial cartoons, users may also use the physical collection which includes items not available online. Charlie speaks about his life and work in this video.