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Rose O’Neill Collection

A cropped Rose O'Neill illustration featuring a young boy standing in front of a desk surrounded by helpful Kewpies.

The Rose O’Neill Collection contains original artwork published in Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan. The original works of art feature mostly children and Kewpies. The collection also contains published materials in the format of books, proofs, and tear sheets. test

A successful cartoonist and commercial illustrator, Rose O’Neill (1874–1944) was at one time the best-known and highest-paid female commercial illustrator in the United States industry.

O’Neill was raised in Nebraska and came to New York City as a teen to pursue art. O’Neill built a successful career as a magazine and book illustrator. Her illustrations, which frequently focused on women and fashion, often appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, Harper’s, Good Housekeeping, and Life.

A Rose O'Neill illustration showing a young, fashionably dressed young woman with a younger gentleman reading a paper tapping the backs of older, stooped gentlemen who are all looking at the young lady in disapproval. The newspaper the young man is reading features the headline "Youth Must Rule."

A series of cartoons O’Neill drew for Ladies’ Home Journal in 1909 featured the cherub-inspired Kewpie character, which gave rise to the famous Kewpie doll. Before Mickey Mouse came on the scene, Kewpie was perhaps the best-known cartoon figure in America.

Two young ladies sit together in a room, one at a table reading and the other busy with an embroidery hoop, while two babies sit playing on the floor at their feet. The illustration reads "Two Devoted Young Ladies Taking Care of Them for Love and Not for Hire."

In addition to illustration, O’Neill worked in the medium of sculpture and wrote fiction and poetry. Rose O’Neill was also very active in the women’s suffrage movement.

A baby, or "kewpie" as created by the illustrator Rose O'Neill, is eating ice cream. He has small angel wings and wears a baseball cap labeled "Kewpie Base Ball Team."

Rose O’Neill Tear Sheets on JSTOR

All WashU 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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Search the Rose O’Neill Collection on ArchivesSpace

For virtual research appointments, contact the Curator of Dowd Illustration Research Archive

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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