Digital Galleries & Exhibitions

The Dowd Modern Graphic History Library image collection is viewable to Washington University students and faculty on Artstor. If you are an outside researcher, email Skye Lacerte for access

Walt Reed Illustration Archive
Over 150,000 tear sheets have been digitized and made available to the public from the Walt Reed Illustration Archive.

harpersFull Text Access to Harper’s Weekly and The Century
The library has access to scanned representations of these issues in an online database. Click here to view Harper’s Weekly, and here to view The Century.

For a list of magazine issues available to browse in our reading room, see Periodical Collections A-F and Periodical Collections G-Z.


Thrill Seekers: The Rise of Men’s Magazines” charts the growth of men’s magazines from the 1940s to the 1960s. Drawing from collections in Washington University’s Dowd Modern Graphic History Library, this exhibit features artwork of some of the most prominent men’s magazines of the mid-twentieth century, such as Esquire, Playboy, Sports Illustrated, and Fortune, as well as lesser-known pulp fiction and girlie magazines. Artists featured include Al Parker, Robert Weaver, Ernest Trova, Robert Andrew Parker, and Cliff Condak, among others.


Illustrators were among the first artists to treat the camera as an instrument for depicting artistic concepts. For the purpose of portraying fictional stories, illustrators became photographers, directing and posing models to represent characters and actions. Photography was an effective tool to create the realism required for illustration. The camera made it possible for the artist to capture certain effects, such as light and shading, which could not be obtained in other ways. The illustrator planned the composition of a photograph just as one would plan the composition of a drawing, giving careful attention to the models’ expressions and arrangement of the scene.

This online exhibit, from the collection of the Dowd Modern Graphic History Library, explores the art-making process of magazine illustrator Al Parker. The display features scans of tear sheets from popular magazines published in the 1940s and 50s. Photographic studies taken by Parker, depicting women, men, and children from various viewpoints and poses, have been superimposed on top of the illustrations. Through the juxtaposition of these images, we catch a glimpse of Parker’s creative process, from his compositions captured in photos to his interpretations realized in print.
mghl_exhibit_al parker student

 Curated by Denise Hannibal

Al Parker studied at Washington University’s School of Fine Arts from 1923 to 1928. During that time he contributed illustrations to editions of The Hatchet, Washington University’s yearbook and to the student humor magazine, The Dirge: Jest in Peace.

Al Parker contributed 24 silhouette illustrations to the 1927 yearbook and 20 illustrations to the 1928 yearbook. Al Parker may have produced more illustrations for The Dirge, however, we found 5 illustrations and a cover that were in the issues held by University Archives.
Curated by Gretchen Neidhardt

The Advertising for Women exhibition is a selection from the Charles Craver collection of tearsheets that range from 1927 to 1950. Most of the artists selected by Charles Craver who illustrated advertisements have campaigns included that were specifically targeted towards women.

The majority of the advertisements in the collection are about clothing, hygiene, or household items. Prominent advertisement themes include getting or keeping a man through personal hygiene or satisfying a man using specific household products. Very few in the collection have to do with personal satisfaction, but some are included here. These advertisements often include items that were marketed less often to women, like cars or vacations. This selection of advertisement illustrations probes the cultural background of the time period, showing the cycle of what advertising agents, illustrators, and consumers all wanted, or thought they wanted.

Curated by Jennifer Moore

The Women at Work exhibition is a selection from the Charles Craver Collection of tearsheets. Twenty-five of the sixty-one illustrators collected by Charles Craver depicted women at work, notably Al Parker, Harry Beckhoff, Mario Cooper, Elmore Brown, and Roy Spreter.

The images selected visually describe women doing paid work, most commonly as maids, waitresses or nurses, but also stewardesses and in the office, largely from the late 1920s to the mid 1940s. The selection of illustrations in this exhibition explores culture and the personification of working women, and in some pieces the contrast between working and non-working women, in mass-media during this period.