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John Held Jr. Collection

The bottom edge of a note written by John Held Jr. A sign off reading "I love you" can be read alongside a sketch of a bird with a top hat taking a bow as flowers are thrown on stage; a caption of the illustration reads "'The hit of the show' OH YEAH!"

John Held Jr. was one of the best-known magazine illustrators of the 1920s. He chronicled the spirit of the Roaring Twenties, also known as the Jazz Age, with cheerful cartoons of flappers, fast cars, parties, and dancing. Held’s humorous work appeared in many U.S. magazines, including Judge, Life, Collier’s, and The New Yorker.

The John Held Jr. Collection consists mostly of correspondence from later in Held’s career. The papers range from 1929 to 1938 when Held was involved with and married to Gladys Moore Held. The collection covers a sizable gap in biographical information about Held during the 1930s when his illustration career was beginning to decline. These details are described in over 800 letters to Gladys and their daughter, Judy. In addition to the letters, the collection also contains photographs, telegrams, and postcards.

The archive is further comprised of numerous studio, press, and candid photographs of Held, as well as manuscripts and published materials from his career. The published items in the collection include magazines, calendars, menus, maps, newspapers, and tear sheets. Held’s manuscripts outline several of his novels, short stories, and screenplays.

John Held, Jr. Tear Sheets on JSTOR

All Washington University faculty, students, and staff can access this collection by creating an account or logging in to JSTOR. Those users outside of the university can contact Special Collections staff for access privileges.

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Preservation, Processing, and Exhibitions, Special Collections, Special Collections, Preservation, and Digital Strategies
Andrea Degener
Job Title
Curator for the Dowd Illustration Research Archive; Visual Materials Processing Archivist & Supervisor (Interim)
Phone Number
(314) 935-9382