Political cartoons and rare seaside postcards once considered too saucy for publication are among 35,000 images to be launched online for the benefit of education and research.
The images have been digitised and catalogued by the British Cartoon Archive at the University of Kent, following a grant from JISC.
The seaside postcards are among a collection of 1,300 cards confiscated under the obscenity laws from 1951-61. Other images available online for the first time include British political cartoons from the last ten years, recent ‘pocket’ cartoons by cartoonists such as Matt of the Daily Telegraph, and images from Reg Smythe’s Andy Capp artwork for the Daily Mirror.
The new images come from the world’s largest collection of cartoons on political and social comment published in British press and held by the British Cartoon Archive. The Archive now offers free and easy access to more than 170,000 cartoons by by over 350 cartoonists, dating from 1790 to 2011 and featuring Prime Ministers from Pitt the Younger to David Cameron.
Also newly available are research and teaching aids on cartoons, including video interviews with leading cartoonists such as Stan McMurtry (Mac) of the Daily Mail, Nicholas Garland of the Daily Telegraph, Peter Brookes of The Times, Dave Brown of The Independent and Nick Newman of the Sunday Times and Private Eye.
Head of the archive Dr Nick Hiley said: ‘Our online catalogue already attracts more than 15,000 visitors a month, looking for cartoons for teaching and research, or just for enjoyment. The sheer volume of material – 19,000 cartoons from the 1970s alone – means that users can see several cartoons from the same day and on the same subject, by cartoonists from quite different newspapers.’
JISC programme manager Paola Marchionni said: ‘It’s not just researchers who are demanding access to these collections; increasing numbers of teachers and lecturers are interested in using cartoons as a learning resource. The new tools to help teachers embed the cartoons into their lessons, both physical and virtual, will make these archives even more valuable for teaching, learning and research.’
Dr Hiley added: ‘Among our online cartoons are 1,594 Margaret Thatchers, which, perhaps surprisingly, is more than our 1,225 Winston Churchills. Of course, some of the cartoons of Mrs Thatcher show her dressed as Winston Churchill, but there are not as many as the cartoons showing Tony Blair dressed as Mrs Thatcher!’