Oswald Ragan “Oz” Black, 1898-1977 [RG3514.AM]


RG3514.AM:  Oswald Ragan “Oz” Black, 1898-1977

Cartoons, drawings, etc.:  1919-1973, n.d.; mostly 1920s-1940s
Lincoln, Neb.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Denver, Colo.:  Cartoonist, commercial artist
Size:  570 original drawings and approx. 0.75 cu. ft. of related materials [additional unprocessed materials have been added to the end of the inventory]


Oswald Ragan “Oz” Black was born on October 29, 1898, in Neoga, Illinois, and studied at the University of Nebraska School of Fine Arts. In 1924 he won first prize in the National Competition for Newspaper Cartoonists sponsored by the National League of Women Voters. Black was the cartoonist for the Lincoln Star from 1921-1927, for the Nebraska State Journal from 1930-1940, and for the Minneapolis Tribune from 1940-1952. From 1952-1957, he free-lanced in Minneapolis and then moved to Denver. While in Denver, Black served as the Director of Public Relations for the Denver Area Council of Churches and Instructor in Cartooning and Caricature at the University of Colorado Institute of Adult Learning in Denver. Black died in 1977.


This collection consists of 570 original drawings, mostly oversize, and other materials relating to the career of cartoonist and commercial artist, “Oz” Black. The collection is arranged in thirteen series: 1) Original Drawings, “Here in Lincoln,” 1921-1940; 2) Clippings, “Here in Lincoln,” 1930-1931; 3) Original Drawings, Miscellaneous Political Cartoons, 1917-1937; 4) Original Drawings for the Minneapolis Tribune, 1940-1957, n.d.; 5) Original Drawings, “Talk Back,” 1960; 6) Original Drawing for The Nebraska Safety News, 1973; 7) Original drawings and developmental materials, “The Wearwells,” ca. 1939; 8) Original drawings, “Sideshow,” n.d.; 9) Original drawings, Cartoon School, n.d.; 10) Business records, 1922-1930, 1953; 11) Chalk Talk, 1920-1949; 12) Published Commercial Art; and 13) Miscellaneous.

Note: See the end of the inventory for additional unprocessed materials.

Nebraska-related items are found mostly in Series 1-3. The bulk of the collection, contained in Series 1, consists of original drawings by Black for the “Here in Lincoln” series which appeared from 1921 through 1940 in the Lincoln Sunday Star and the Sunday Nebraska State Journal. Series 2 contains a scrapbook of mounted clippings of the “Here in Lincoln” series for the years 1930 and 1931. Nebraska politics in general–and Lincoln politics in particular–are the subject of the miscellaneous cartoons in Series 3. Of special interest are Black’s caricatures of Nebraska political figures.

Series 4 contains cartoons and illustrations which Black drew while at the Minneapolis Tribune. Most of the panels present amusing anecdotes and funny facts in a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”-type fashion. Series 5 and Series 6 consist of drawings done later in Black’s career, including “Talk Back” cartoon panels and a color panel of a cartoon which appeared on the cover of The Nebraska Safety News. Series 7 and Series 8 contain developmental panels and sketches for the cartoon series “Sideshow” and “The Wearwells.” The “Wearwells” material is of special interest in terms of character and concept development.

The undated sketches of Series 9 contain multiple drawings which Black executed and sent to the W.L. Evans School of Cartooning in Cleveland, Ohio for evaluation. Constructive criticism of Black’s sketches and technique appear in purple ink on each of the four sheets in this series. Series 10 consists of miscellaneous business/financial records.

Series 11 consists of materials relating to Black’s interest in Chalk Talk, or the art of entertaining an audience by speaking and illustrating the performance with witty cartoons. In 1920 he ordered several booklets on Chalk Talk, which contain tips and diagrams for creating “evolutions,” comics, trick drawings, and caricatures. Dates on other booklets and materials in this series indicate that Black maintained his interest in chalk talking well into the 1940s. Some items in the series seem to suggest that he may have been part of a chalk talking group. Published versions of several commercial art projects undertaken by Black form the content of Series 12. Series 13, Miscellaneous, includes a small travel diary Black kept on a road trip through Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska in 1973, and one letter.

Note:  See the photo component [RG3514.PH] for related photographs. See the Nebraska History Index for articles relating to Oz Black. The NSHS Library contains a “family file” on the Black family.


Series 1 – Original Drawings, “Here in Lincoln,” 1921-1940

  1. 1921, (18 items) [See oversize]
  2. 1922, (26 items) [See oversize]
  3. 1923, (23 items) [See oversize]
  4. 1924, (16 items) [See oversize]
  5. 1925, (22 items) [See oversize]
  6. 1926, (20 items) [See oversize]
  7. 1927, (14 items) [See oversize]
  8. 1930, (10 items) [See oversize]
  9. 1931, (18 items) [See oversize]
  10. 1932, (10 items) [See oversize]
  11. 1933, (22 items) [See oversize]
  12. 1934, (14 items) [See oversize]
  13. 1935, (11 items) [See oversize]
  14. 1936, (15 items) [See oversize]
  15. 1937, (13 items) [See oversize]
  16. 1938-1940, (13 items) [See oversize]

Series 2 – Clippings, “Here in Lincoln,” 1930-1931

  1. 1930, June 22 – 1931, June 7 (1 volume) [See OB042]

Series 3 – Original Drawings, Misc. Political Cartoons, 1917-1937

  1. 1919-1937, (15 items) [See oversize]
    A. 1917, (1 item); 1919, (6 items) [See OB043]
    B. 1920, (21 items) [See OB043]
    C. 1921, (11 items) [See OB043]
    D. 1922, (9 items) [See OB043]

Series 4 – Original Drawings, Minneapolis Tribune, 1940-1957, n.d.
Subseries 1: Minneapolis Sunday Tribune Magazine, 1941-1946

  1. 1941, (19 items) [See oversize]
  2. 1942-1943, (12 items) [See oversize]
  3. 1944, (20 items) [See oversize]
  4. 1945-1946, (15 items) [See oversize]

Subseries 2: “Front and Center,” 1946-1953

  1. 1946-1947, (17 items) [See oversize]
  2. 1948-1949, (18 items) [See oversize]
  3. 1950-1951, (15 items) [See oversize]
  4. 1952-1953, (16 items) [See oversize]
    A. 1947-1952, clippings (6 items) [See OB043]

Subseries 3: Color Veloxes, 1949

  1. 1949, (5 items) [See OB042]
  2. 1949, (7 items) [See OB042]
  3. 1949, (7 items) [See OB042]
  4. 1949, (7 items) [See OB042]
  5. 1949, (7 items) [See OB042]
  6. 1949, (8 items) [See OB042]
  7. 1949, (7 items) [See OB042]

Subseries 4: Minnesota Historical Sketches, 1949, 1957

  1. 1949, 1957, (7 items) [See oversize]

Subseries 5: Miscellaneous Cartoons and Illustrations, 1940-1943, 1945, n.d.

  1. 1940, 1941, 1942, (8 items) [See oversize]
  2. 1943, 1945, n.d., (10 items, incl. small folder with misc. undated drawings.) [See oversize]
  3. Watercolor, n.d., (1 item) [See oversize]

Series 5 – Original Drawings, “Talk Back,” 1960

  1. 1960, (18 items) [See OB042]

Series 6 – Original Drawing, Nebraska Safety News, 1973

  1. November 1973, (1 item) [See OB042]

Series 7 – Original Drawings and Development Materials, “The Wearwells,” ca. 1939

  1. c1939, 4 panels. Includes 8 drawings on poster board and misc. sketches [See OB043]

Series 8 – Original Drawings, “Side Show”

  1. Original drawings, “Side Show,” n.d., (5 items) [See OB043]

Series 9 – Original Drawings, Cartoon School

  1. Drawings done by Black as exercises for the W.L. Evans School of Cartooning, Cleveland, Ohio, n.d., (4 items) [See OB043]

Series 10 – Business Records, 1922-1930, 1953

Box 1

  1. Portfolio
  2. Accounts, 1922-1925 [loose]
  3. Accounts, 1925-1931, 1 volume
    Cash book, 1928-1930; 1953; 1 volume [See OB043]

Series 11 – Chalk Talk

  1. Booklets, etc.
  2. Booklets
  3. “Sappo” comics, clippings

Series 12 – Published Commercial Art

  1. Drawings and booklets

Series 13 – Miscellaneous

  1. Miscellaneous

Unprocessed materials added:

Box 2 – Research files, subject files, clippings, etc.

Oversized drawings [See oversize]

Subject headings:

Artists — Nebraska
Black, Oswald Ragan, 1898-1977
Caricatures and cartoons
Cartoonists — Minnesota
Cartoonists — Nebraska
Chalk Talk
Government officials — Nebraska
Political cartoons

APD/ct   10-29-1975
SDM revised   12-01-1995
KFK revised   05-14-1996
Revised TMM  02-23-2010; 02-22-2018

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