Materials entirely in English.

Title:

Jackie Ormes papers

Identifier:

BMRC.DUSABLE.ORMES

Repository:

DuSable Museum of African American History

Extent:

0.5 Linear feet

Dates:

1938-1985

Abstract:

Jackie Zelda Ormes, born Zelda Marvin Jackson (1911-1985), was the first African American female to gain prominence as a cartoonist. She created four cartoon and comic series between 1937-1956, each one featuring African American female protagonists, and addressing social and political issues of the mid-twentieth century. The Jackie Ormes papers span from 1938-1985 and reflect her professional work and her social life in Chicago.

Preferred Citation note

When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Jackie Ormes papers, [Box #, Folder #], DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago, Illinois

Biographical Note

Jackie Zelda Ormes, born Zelda Marvin Jackson (1911-1985), was the first African American female to gain prominence as a cartoonist. Ormes grew up in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. In 1930, she began working as a proofreader for the Pittsburgh Courier, a weekly African American newspaper. Her first comic strip, Torchy Brown in “Dixie to Harlem,” ran in the Pittsburg Courier from 1937 to 1938. After moving to Chicago in 1942, Ormes wrote articles and a single panel cartoon, Candy, for the Chicago Defender, a prominent weekly African American newspaper. In 1945, Ormes returned to the Pittsburgh Courier and created her longest running cartoon, Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger. The single panel cartoon featured two sisters, Patty-Jo, the younger and precocious sister who was politically and socially astute, and Ginger, the older and beautiful but silent sister. In 1947, Ormes helped produce the Patty-Jo doll, one of the first African American dolls to have an upscale and extensive wardrobe. Production ended on the Patty-Jo doll in 1949. One year later, Ormes created her fourth and final series, Torchy in Heartbeats, a color comic that appeared in the Pittsburgh Courier until 1954. She retired in 1956, ending the eleven year run of Patty-Jo n’ Ginger. During her retirement, Ormes remained active in the South Side of Chicago community, presiding over the Urbanaides, a female auxiliary of the Chicago Urban League, and volunteering at the Clarence Darrow Community Center.

Arrangement note

The Jackie Ormes papers are arranged into four series: 1. Art and Writings, 1938-1958. 2. Correspondence,1947-1985. 3. Patty-Jo Doll, circa 1947. 4. Personal, 1945-1985.

Scope and Contents note

The Jackie Ormes papers span from 1938-1985 and reflect Ormes’s time as a cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Courier and Chicago Defender and her social life in Chicago. The collection contains original drawings of her cartoon characters, personal artwork, published cartoons, poems, and copies of “Social Whirl,” her column in the Chicago Defender. There is correspondence made up of incoming mail relating to the Patty-Jo doll production and sales. There is a letter from Paul Robeson to Ormes. The collection also contains newspaper articles about Ormes, as well as layouts and sketches of the Patty-Jo Doll. There is epherma related to fashion productions, theater productions, as well as biographical material. There is an original sketch of the Patty-Jo t-shirt, which Ormes designed and sold by mail in the 1970s.

Cited Sources

Note: This book is available in the DuSable Museum of African American History Library.

Goldstein, Nancy. “Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist.” The University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor, 2011.

Conditions Governing Access note

Access to the archival collections housed at the DuSable Museum is restricted; please contact the museum archivist at 773-947-0600 for more information. 2015 October 5 CAB

Processing Information note

Processed by CLIR funded Black Metropolis Research Consortium “Color Curtain Processing Project.” Processors: T.J. Szafranski and Elise Zerega.

Subjects

INVENTORY

Series I: Art and writings, 1938-1958

Scope and Contents note

The Art and writing series contains original drawings of her cartoon characters, personal artwork, published cartoons, poems, and copies of “Social Whirl,” her column in the Chicago Defender.

Art and writings

Series II: Correspondence, 1947-1985

Scope and Contents note

The Correspondence series is personal and professional in nature and is primarily made up of incoming mail relating to the Patty-Jo doll production and sales. One personal letter of note is from Paul Robeson, an actor and Civil Rights activist, asking Ormes to purchase a book written by John Howard Lawson.

Arrangement note

The Correspondence series is arranged chronologically by decade.

Correspondence

Series III: Patty-Jo Doll, circa 1947

Scope and Contents note

The Patty-Jo Doll series contains newspaper articles about Ormes and her creation of the Patty-Jo doll, as well as an advertisement for the doll. The series also includes layouts and sketches of the Patty-Jo Doll.

Patty-Jo Doll

Series IV: Personal, 1945-1985

Scope and Contents note

The Personal series highlights Ormes’s social life, and includes invitations to community events, programs from the Urbanaides fashion productions, documents pertaining to the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee for Chicago theater productions, and biographical material.

Personal