Journalists' Papers

No matter the story—from the catastrophic to the mundane—reporters must find a way to communicate the news that is engaging and fresh. Journalists are called to uncover the news with speed, accuracy and style. Since the early days of news reporting, artists have worked alongside correspondents, often risking their lives. Because of the efforts of these men and women, our understanding of world events has been enriched and bettered.

Jack Corn Photo: Barefoot Girl in DoorIn today's busy world, newspapers, television and the Internet are where most Americans get their news. But before the 1980s, when the Internet became easily accessible in American homes, and prior to the 1960s, when televisions became affordable to the average family, newspapers and radio were the ways that news was reported. That is one reason why the journalists' papers housed in Vanderbilt's Special Collections are such important resources for the student of history. Their record tells us how history evolved as fresh news to both reporters and readers without the hindsight of present-day knowledge. This exhibit gives a glimpse into the ways that news is delivered, from front page news, editorials and photographs to political cartoons.

The Collection

Tom Little (1898-1972) was a political cartoonist for The Tennessean for 33 years. He joined the staff in 1916 as a reporter. He began drawing political cartoons in 1937 and continued in this post until his retirement in 1970. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 1957 for a cartoon advocating the use of the Jonas Salk's polio vaccine. Throughout his career he received Headliners Awards, Freedom Foundation Awards, and was inducted into the Tennessee Newspaper Hall of Fame. His work was widely reprinted in other newspapers and magazines, including The Chicago Sun, The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek.

Charles Bissell (1908-2000) joined the staff of The Tennessean as a political cartoonist in 1943. During the course of his career, he received the Cartoon Award from the National Headliners Club in 1963, a Distinguished Service Award from Sigma Delta Chi in 1964, and the Public Service Award from the National Safety Council in 1966.

John “Jack” F. Corn (b. 1929) is a celebrated photojournalist, educator, author and U.S. Air Force photographer and has held positions with The Tennessean and The Chicago Tribune. Renowned for his documentation of the lives of men, women and children living in the coal mining regions of Appalachia, his photograph “Barefoot girl in door” was selected by Lady Bird Johnson as part of the publicity for President Johnson’s War on Poverty.

This exhibition is on permanent display in the library 4th floor gallery.