Comics as Education, 1950s-1980s

By Zachary Bampton ’20

From the 1950s onward, comics and their bright colors, bold drawings, and interesting stories have captivated a young American demographic. However, their popularity drew in other eyes, too. Civic and political groups took notice of this market audience and attempted to reach them by utilizing the medium as a teaching tool. The goal was education, not entertainment. Pulled from our Public Policy Papers and University Archives here at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, these comics demonstrate a mass market approach to education by unconventional means.

Materials for an unpublished comic book found in the Fund for the Republic Records (MC059) provide insight into the motivations and decision-making process for these publishers. In 1955, Dan Barry proposed a comic to Fund for the Republic provisionally titled “Our Civil Liberties, Their Meaning, and the Threats They Face”. Noting the “70 million regular readers” of comics as well as the disparity between 43% of the “newspaper public” reading the editorial versus 83% reading the comic strips, Barry articulated the potential and “great need for free-minded liberal material in this powerful medium”.

“Heroes of the Highway,” 1952. This comic book served as proof of concept to Fund for the Republic for the 1955 proposal. Fund for the Republic Records (MC059), Box 93, Folder 21.

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This Week in Princeton History for October 12-18

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, graduates get high praise for writing skills, influenza severely disrupts life on campus, and more.

October 13, 1748—The Trustees of the College of New Jersey send an effusive letter of thanks to Governor Jonathan Belcher for granting the institution’s second charter, “not doubting but by the Smiles of Heaven, under your Protection, it may prove a flourishing Seminary of Piety and good Literature” and “a lasting Foundation for the future Prosperity of Church and State.”

Pennsylvania_Gazette_1748

Pennsylvania Gazette, November 3, 1748. Princeton University Publications Collection (AC364), Box 36.

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Princeton economics processing project completed

More than 1,100 feet of records providing insights into 20th-century economics history available

 

Princeton University’s Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library has completed a two-year project to process all of its economics-related public policy collections to modern standards. These collections provide a rich resource about American economic thought and policies in the 20th century and the impact of American economic policy and the ideas of some of the leading economic thinkers on the emerging world economy, especially in developing nations.

Twenty-eight collections, totaling more than 1,100 linear feet, were processed through the support of the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund and a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Electronic finding aids for each collection are available on the library’s website for researchers.

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