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Orr, Carey 1890-1967 (1890-1967) | Lake Forest College Archives and Special Collections

Name: Orr, Carey 1890-1967 (1890-1967)
Fuller Form: Orr, Carey, 1890-1967


Historical Note:

Carey Orr was an editorial and political cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune from 1917 to his retirement as chief editorial cartoonist on January 1st, 1963. The work in this collection is all from this period of Orr's career spanning from the 1920s to 1960s. It shows his own progression as an artist, but also the changing attitudes of the world and international issues of the times.

Casey Cassius Orr was born in Ada, Ohio on January 17, 1890 to Cassius Perry Orr and Martha (Rinehart) Orr. In his early years, he expressed a true desire to draw, but in keeping with the wishes of his father, he first studied mathematics and mechanical engineering. Orr was also a gifted sportsman, as a semi-pro baseball pitcher, and he soon decided to follow his dream of drawing by using the funds he earned as pitcher to pay for his admission to the Chicago Academy of FIne Arts.

After his art schooling, Orr got his first newspaper position at the Chicago Examiner, but he soon joined the Nashville Tennessean Newspaper as a full-time editorial cartoonist. He returned to the city of Chicago by 1917 and after some negotiations (see Folder 1/Patterson Correspondence of the collection), he was able to join the Tribune, where the editorial role was dominated by the older and high-profile cartoonist John T. McCutcheon.

But even at the outset Orr aspired to succeed McCutcheon even if in the distant future.  He was hired in the year that the U.S. entered World War I, when the peripatetic McCutcheon was away, and after McCutcheon returned, Orr was holding the position of the second cartoonist with a small shadow comic strip. By covering the two months annually that McCutcheon was off, Orr continued to grow as a cartoonist and when McCutcheon retired in the 1940s, Orr did succeed him.

Orr and Chicago Tribune were thus engaged in what became a 46-year long working relationship that earned Orr the title as a significant visual crusader of many of the issues and conflicts within and beyond American borders spanning two World Wars.

In 1961, Orr won the Pulitzer Prize for one of his cartoons (one on the threat of Communism in newly independent Africa), the first won by the Tribune since 1936. He also won Freedom Foundation awards in the 1950s and a gold medal from the U.S. for his contributions during World War I. His work reached and described many prominent figures of history and cultural life.  People like Queen Elizabeth II and President Harry Truman even have copies of Orr's work in their own library collections.

Orr was on the televsion program "This Is Your Life" and acted as a serious teacher to many aspiring cartoonists throughout his career. In 1914, Orr married Cherry Maud Kindel, and they had two daughters, Dorothy Jane and Cherry Sue. The family lived in and near Wilmette, Illinois until Orr's death on May 16th, 1967.

Overall, this small collection captures Orr's great ability to compress a complex argument about economics or politics into a concise, quickly visible statement of a position.  His characters were  hardly ever mean (such as Adlai Stevenson fishing for the 1960 Democratic nomination for the presdiency), but they were pointed.

Note Author: Colleen O'Keefe, Library Intern





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