Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.


There is no doubt that 2020 has been a bumpy year. Current conditions, including the ongoing pandemic and an election looming on the horizon, ensure the year will go out with a bang. It is an opportune moment to pause and observe August 25th as National Kiss and Make Up Day.

When relationships hit a rough patch, it can be difficult to know how to work past our differences. Even famous advice columnists and sisters Dear Abby and Ann Landers struggled to along. Yet today seems as good a day as any to put fourth the effort to mend a relationship worth having. Send flowers, make a phone call, write a text, agree to disagree, or whatever feels appropriate to make amends. 2020 needs all the help it can get, and hopefully we all escape with healthier and stronger relationships despite our social or physical distances.

However, don’t feel bad if all your relationships aren’t perfect. There are endless examples in history of people who really needed to kiss and make up. Here is just one example:

Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams

Like many new relationships, Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams initially held good opinions of one another. However, that all changed after a tight presidential election in 1824. Jackson and his crowd determined that President Adams must have made an underhand deal with Henry Clay that allowed Adams to win the presidency. Many felt that Adams had made a “corrupt bargain” and ill-will leaked into the 1828 presidential race between Adams and Jackson, which played out fully in the court of public opinion.

Both sides were not above slinging mud onto the other candidate. Coffin Handbills were circulated to illustrate alleged misdeeds of Jackson and included allegations of being a murdering adulterous cannibal.


Supplemental account of some of the bloody deeds of General Jackson, being a supplement to the “Coffin handbill.”

Library of Congress. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Printed and Ephemera Collection.

 Jacksonian newspapers continued to support the idea of a “corrupt bargain’ between Adams and Clay and alleged that President Adams was a pimp for the Czar of Russia while serving as a diplomat there.

Akin, J. (1828) The pedlar and his pack or the Desperate effort, an over balance, United States, 1828. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress.

Bad relations between Adams and Jackson continued after the elections. Jackson believed the treatment of his wife during the elections played a part in her death prior to Jackson taking office and thus did not make the traditional visit to outgoing President Adams. In return, President Adams did not attend President Jackson’s inauguration.

Despite efforts from friends on both sides, the two presidents never kissed and made up. Each man continued to carry a poor opinion of the other for the rest of their days. President Adams was a diplomat, fluent in several languages, and a sometimes poet, but despite his skill he never found the way or the words to make amends with President Jackson.

Hopefully on this day your quarrels a little easier and you can find the words to smooth out hurt feelings or clear up a misunderstanding. If you need inspiration, the Library of Congress has the sheet music for “Kiss and make it up” and we hope it helps!

Kiss and make it up

Sheet Music. print | 1 score | From: Music Copyright Deposits, 1870-1885 (Microfilm M 3500) Also available through the Library of Congress Web Site as facsimile page images. 


Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

For many years, the UNT Government Documents blog offered insights into the government information collections at the UNT Libraries. In recent years, the UNT government information collection moved to the Eagle Commons Library at Sycamore Hall, a space that provides access to a number of collections including our state and federal government documents collections and offers a wealth of services to the UNT community and beyond. To better highlight all of ECL’s collections, services, and staff, we’re launching a new blog, the UNT Sycamore Stacks. 

For our long time followers or new gov docs friends, update your bookmarks and rss feeds to follow UNT Sycamore Stacks at We’ll continue to highlight gems from our docs collections but will also share the myriad other offerings available at the Eagle Commons Library at Sycamore Hall.

Posted by & filed under Get Help, Guest Posts, Inside the ECL.

“When the Government shuts down, who you gonna call?”

Your Political Science Librarian!

My name is Brea Henson. I’m the new Political Science Librarian at the UNT Libraries.

Doing research in Political Science is equally exciting and challenging—especially right now. Many changes have happened in the last few years and will continue to do so as the demographics of the political parties change in each branch of the government. Information and data that was once publicly available or updated regularly can be difficult to find with the government shutdown and secrecy. Well-scripted fake news articles also make it difficult to understand what is actually going on in our country and how it may impact a “regular Joe.” The debates in Washington do not just affect this country, but can have impacts on our international relations.

My job, first and foremost, is to support you. How do I do this?  I can help you navigate through the noise of the emotions in current debates to discover the facts about current discussions from Washington; circumvent access barriers using authoritative sources to find accurate data; and craft methodologies to predict how policy changes here can impact others around the world.

I also do other things: for example, I assist in developing civic education and engagement for our student body. You might just see me around campus helping students register to vote in the fall semester. I also collaborate with professors, come to classes to introduce myself, and do research instruction—so you could see me in your classes, too.

I am here to answer your Political Science questions and direct you to our Government Information Connection specialists and resources (at the Eagle Commons Library) as needed.

The Government may shut down, but the UNT Libraries will not. My office door is always open. My office is in Willis Library (currently room 155, but in March my office will be in the Lower Level). The best way to reach me is by email at

Article by Brea Henson

Posted by & filed under Is that a Document?.

Selected Publications from the Library of Congress Music Division

Federal and state government agencies produce a wide variety of publications related to every aspect of the art and business of music: catalogs, educational materials, vocational guides, industrial directories, historical and theoretical studies, and much more. Here are a few examples of the many musical scores and recordings available in the Government Documents collection at the Eagle Commons Library.


Wonderful Inventions: Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound at the Library of Congress

Wonderful Inventions is an anthology of scholarly articles that provide the reader with a brief introduction to the vast archive of materials at the Library of Congress related to radio programs, films, television shows, and sound recordings. Among the musically themed essays are discussions of the film music of David Raksin, the music for the Star Trek TV series, and a detailed account of how the background score was developed for the Disney classic Bambi. The book includes more than sixty musical examples from rare and mostly unpublished scores, and is accompanied by a pair of long-playing vinyl records contains recordings keyed to several of the articles.     

Force of Evil, “The Bottom of the World” (music by David Raksin)


Live, Learn, Play: Tune in to Your Health and Environment

Live, Learn,  Play: Tune in to Your Health and EnvironmentThis educational pamphlet uses fun activities to teach children about environmental health issues. Each section of the book explains a different environmental problem and provides useful information about how to protect oneself from dangers such as second-hand smoke, mold, pesticides, and mercury poisoning. An accompanying CD includes recordings of two rap numbers (“Environmental Hazards Rap” and “In Our Sight“) to drive the message home; each song is available with and without vocals.


P.F.C. Mary Brown: A WAC Musical Revue

P.F.C. Mary Brown: A WAC Musical RevueDuring World War II, the Special Services Division of the U.S. Army provided soldiers with do-it-yourself entertainment kits called “Blueprint Specials,” which contained a script, lyrics, music, dance routines, and detailed instructions for building sets, props, and costumes out of Army surplus, waste, and salvage materials — everything soldiers needed to create a musical variety show. These kits provided an early glimpse into the careers of such show-biz luminaries as Frank Loesser, Alex North, and José Limón.

P.F.C. Mary Brown was written for the newly formed Women’s Army Corps, and depicts the goddess Athena descending from Mount Olympus to enlist as a private in the U.S. Army. The title character was inspired by the song “First Class Private Mary Brown,” which was featured in an earlier Blueprint Special called About Face!


Millennium Evenings at the White House, Evening 4: “Jazz, an Expression of Democracy”

Millennium Evenings at the White House was a series of lectures and cultural showcases presented by the White House in 1998 and 1999 to highlight American creativity and inventiveness through ideas, art, and scientific discoveries. The fourth evening, “Jazz: An Expression of Democracy,” celebrates a unique art form that has reflected and transformed American society. Featured soloists include Grammy Award-winning artist Wynton Marsalis and the celebrated jazz pianist and composer Marian McPartland.


“Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag”

On June 14, 1954 (Flag Day), President Eisenhower signed House Joint Resolution 243, which added to the Pledge of Allegiance the phrase “under God.” At the request of Representative Louis C. Rabaut, the congressman who had introduced this bill, the composer Irving Caesar set the Pledge to music for voice and piano, new words and all. The composer then donated all his rights to this song to the U.S. government so that anyone can perform the song without paying royalties. On Flag Day of the following year the new song was performed in the House of Representatives by the official Air Force choral group “The Singing Sergeants,” and on July 29, 1955, House Concurrent Resolution 161 authorized the printing of the song with an illustrated cover.  

Irving Caesar was a well-known Broadway lyricist and sometime composer, perhaps best known for his lyrics to the songs “Swanee,” “Just a Gigolo,” and “Tea for Two.” 

Pledge of Allegiance


“Smokey the Bear”

Smokey Bear was created as a mascot for the U.S. Forest Service in 1944, initiating the longest-running advertising campaign in U.S. history. In 1952, songwriters Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins created the theme song “Smokey the Bear.” Their dubious excuse for introducing the word the into the middle of Smokey Bear’s name was that they needed it to “maintain the rhythm.” Nelson and Rollins later wrote the songs “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” and “Frosty the Snowman.” 


“The Ballad of Woodsy Owl”

Woodsy OwlWoodsy Owl was created in 1970 to teach young children how to appreciate nature. Forest ranger Chuck Williams coined the slogan “Give a hoot, don’t pollute,” and Marion Bartoo wrote “The Ballad of Woodsy Owl” with help from Dave Kimber and Bob Pelli of Kay Pee Music. Several more songs were created for the Woodsy Owl campaign, including “Help Woodsy Spread the Word,” which appears on the verso of the ballad’s lead sheet. Other songs include “Woodsy Owl” and “Woodsy Owl’s Rubbish Rot Rap.”


Picture Studies

Picture StudiesThe United States Marine Band, nicknamed “The President’s Own,” has made many recordings of music for concert band. Picture Studies includes the band works In perched for Vespers nine by Joel Puckett and Huntingtower Ballad by Ottorino Respighi, as well as band transcriptions of the orchestral works A Copland Portrait by David Conte, Picture Studies by Adam Schoenberg, and Suite from The Gadfly by Dmitri Shostakovich. 

Another U.S. Marine Band recording in our government documents collection is Arioso, which includes Gustav Holst’s Suite in F for Military Band, Joseph Schwantner’s And the mountains rising nowhere, and other popular favorites and lesser-known works. Many more recordings are available online at the Marine Band’s Web page


Octet for Strings, Opus 20, by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

This is a facsimile of the manuscript of one of Mendelssohn’s earliest masterpieces, created when the precocious composer was only sixteen. The manuscript contains a number of markings, musical passages, and other content that were removed or revised before the work was first published in 1848, providing musicologists with a unique opportunity to investigate the composer’s creative process. This publication includes an introduction by Jon Newsom, Chief of the Music Division of the Library of Congress, as well as a detailed description of the differences between this early version of the Octet and the final revised version.

Mendelssohn Octet


“Star Spangled Banner” 

Star Spangled BannerIn spite of several proposals to establish an official version of the United States national anthem, there is currently no official version of the melody or lyrics, nor is there an official arrangement for universal use. In April of 1955, however, a 1949 arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner” was established as the official Department of Defense arrangement for Navy bands, which have used this arrangement up to the present day, as has the U.S. Marine Band. This published version includes a complete set of parts for 42 band instruments as well as a condensed score for conductor. You can hear both the U.S. Navy Band and the U.S. Marine Band playing this version on YouTube.


Do You Want to Know More?

If you would like to see any of these items or find out what other musical offerings we have in the Government Documents collection at the Eagle Commons Library, please visit the Eagle Commons Library Service Desk during office hours or contact us online at

Article by Bobby Griffith.

Posted by & filed under Data about Databases, Keeping Tabs.

First Issue of the Federal RegisterSince 1936, the Federal Register has been the official instrument for publicizing proposed government regulations, inviting comments from the public, and then publishing the regulations in their final form. This periodical, published Monday through Friday except for federal holidays, also contains notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. 

Now, for the first time, the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register (OFR) have made the entire run of the Federal Register from March 14, 1936 to the present available online in digital format free of charge. This information can be accessed and downloaded by anyone with a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer, without the need to go to the library or to pay a hefty subscription fee.

To browse the issues by date or search the contents by keyword, go to 

The Federal Register is also available for browsing and searching in the Library of Congress Digital Collections.

Here are just a few of the fascinating items that have appeared in this publication over the years:

Friday, March 20, 1942: The executive order that created the War Relocation Authority, which was the federal agency responsible for forcibly relocating and interning Japanese-Americans during World War II, appeared beginning on page 2165 (the first page of that issue).

Tuesday, December 9, 1958: The first list of foods generally recognized as safe (GRAS) appeared on pages 9516 to 9517.

Saturday, March 11, 1967: The first endangered species list appeared on page 4001.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015: The latest list of federally recognized tribes in the contiguous United States and in Alaska appeared on pages 1942 to 1948.

Do You Want to Know More?

Reg Map provides an overview of the regulatory process. (Office of Management and Budget)

Federal Register Tutorial: What It Is and  How to Use It describes how the Federal Register is organized, explains how you can research the history of regulations online, and explains how you can participate in the public policy process by commenting on proposed regulations. (National Archives and Records Administration, Office of the Federal Register)

A Research Guide to the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations describes the history of the Federal Register and it companion set, the Code of Federal Regulations, which arranges all currently active regulations by subject matter. It also describes how both these publications are organized, and how to use the paper and electronic versions of each. (Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, DC)

The Office of the Federal Register: A Brief History Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Publication of the First Issue of the Federal Register March 14, 1936 describes how the Federal Register came to be, and how it has evolved over the 70 years since its first issue was published. (National Archives and Records Administration, Office of the Federal Register)

Setting Up the Federal Register, 1935 describes in detail how the Federal Register was conceived and how the logistics were worked out to make the idea a reality. (The National Archives: The Text Message Blog)


Article by Bobby Griffith.

Illustration: Nameplate from the first issue of the Federal Register.


Posted by & filed under Special Days.

Texas Declaration of Independence


On a cold first day of March in 1836, even as a handful of brave Texas were desperately fending off General Santa Anna and his troops at the Alamo, a convention of delegates sent by the provisional Texas government huddled in an unfinished building in Washington (today better known as Washington-on-the-Brazos), where by the following day they had drafted and adopted a Declaration of Independence from Mexico.

During the next couple of weeks, the delegates signed the Declaration, hurriedly cobbled together a new Constitution (which incorporated large chunks of the U.S. Constitution, along with a few Mexican laws), and elected a few ad interim government officials. Then, during the early morning of March 17, with no time to lose, they skedaddled, joining the mass exodus known as the Runaway Scrape.

The battle for independence continued until April 21, when the Mexican army was defeated and Santa Anna captured. For the next decade Texas existed as an independent republic, until on December 28, 1845 it was admitted into the United States as the 28th state of the Union.

Here are some ways you can celebrate the anniversary of Texas Independence:


Article by Bobby Griffith.

Banner image of the Texas Declaration of Independence from the Texas State Library and Archives Web site.

Posted by & filed under Data about Databases, Guest Posts.

Foundation Center. Knowledge to build on.The Eagle Commons Library (ECL) in Sycamore Hall is (among many other wonderful things, such as the Government Information Connection and home of the Geographic Information Systems Librarian/Services) a Funding Information Network (FIN) partner.  “What does that mean?” you may ask.  As a Funding Information Network partner, the Eagle Commons Library is a nonprofit information resource center for the University of North Texas community as well as the broader Denton community. ECL provides access to nonprofit-related resources, including the three Foundation Center databases, Foundation Directory Online Professional, Foundation Grants to Individuals Online, and Foundation Maps.  The Foundation Center is the premier source for information on the nonprofit sector.

Let’s talk about the Foundation Center’s databases.

  • Foundation Directory Online Professional provides grantmaker profiles for over 100,000 foundations, public charities, and corporate giving programs. Profiles for grant recipients are also included in the database. Unlike the publicly available 990 forms, this database can be searched by geographic location of grantmaker or nonprofit program/activities, field of interest, recipient type and location, type of grant award, type of grantmaker, and more.  Grantmaker profiles can easily be downloaded or exported by e-mail. This database is extremely useful to nonprofit organizations seeking grants.  It can also be utilized by grantmakers to gather information about the state of philanthropy in a given area.
  • Foundation Grants to Individuals contains grant opportunities that are only available to individuals, primarily for educational support—scholarships, fellowships, loans, internships, and the like. The database also contains grant opportunities for artistic and research projects, professional development, general welfare, and special needs for individuals.
  • Foundation Maps is a data visualization platform for philanthropy. Foundation Maps can be used to reveal trends, visualize networks, and monitor changes in the nonprofit sector.  Foundation Maps overlays nonprofit sector information on maps and creates charts and graphical representations of philanthropic giving.

In addition, ECL has a collection of print books that cover nonprofit topics such as board development, financial management of nonprofits, fundraising, grant writing, volunteer management, program development, program assessment, and more. Circulating books can be checked out to UNT students, staff, and faculty, as well as to community members who present a Denton County driver license or identification card.

ECL staff coordinate periodic training events and workshops that are free and open to the public. Staff members are available for one-on-one or group consultations, during which time we can demonstrate how to use the resources and answer your questions. To schedule a consultation, e-mail or call the Eagle Commons Library at 940-565-2194. All of our services and trainings are provided free of charge.

Or feel free to just walk in and search away! The Eagle Commons Library is open to anyone. Databases can be accessed on any computer workstation in the ECL, and all ECL workstations are available to anyone. Before you make the trip, please be sure to check our hours; they change seasonally. You’ll find more information on parking on the UNT campus and navigating to Sycamore Hall at


Article by Jennifer Rowe.

Posted by & filed under Get Help, Local Doings, Make a Difference.

Are you registered to vote? Every year millions of Americans don’t vote, either because the registration deadline passed them by, or because they don’t know how to register.

September 26, 2017 has been designated National Voter Registration Day and set aside to promote awareness of voter registration opportunities and to encourage eligible Americans to exercise this precious obligation to make their voices heard in the upcoming elections.

Voter Registration Facts

Your registration application must be postmarked or received in the Voter Registrar’s Office at least 30 days prior to any Texas election in which you plan to vote. To vote in this year’s Constitutional Amendment Election (on November 7), you must be registered by October 10. If you miss that deadline, don’t despair! You can still register at any time and vote in any election that takes place at least 30 days later.

Student voters may be uncertain about where they should be registered, since many have a family residence at one location but are living temporarily at or near the campus where they attend school. In general, you should be registered to vote in the county you consider your permanent residence. If you consider your parents’ address to be your permanent residence, you may register to vote in that county. If you would like to register to vote at your college address you may do so, but you should not be registered at both places at the same time.

If you’re registered in Texas but won’t be around to vote in person on election day, you may vote early by mail. If you’re registered in another state but live in Texas, you might be able to switch your registration to the Texas county where you currently reside; otherwise, ask the election office in your state about their absentee voting policies.

If you’re not sure where or whether you are registered to vote, you can search the Texas Voter Registration database or, if you think you might be registered in another state, search the Can I Vote database.

Registration Events at UNT

The UNT community and visitors can register to vote at two convenient locations on the UNT campus Tuesday. Deputy voter registrars will be available in the lobby of Kerr Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and in the lobby of Honors Hall from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

If you are not able to attend either of these events, you may schedule a more convenient time to register by visiting Room 155 in Willis Library or by visiting the Eagle Commons Library service desk in Sycamore Hall. Texans can also obtain a voter registration application online from the Secretary of State.

In addition to registering new voters, we can also help not so new voters with a change of address, information on mail-in ballots (both in Texas and out of state) and information on upcoming elections. We are also available to come to classes to talk about voter registration and register students at any time during the semester.

This event is sponsored by the UNT Libraries Government Information Connection, in partnership with the Eagle Commons Library and the Public Services Division of the UNT Libraries. It is free and open to the public.

For information about parking at UNT, see the UNT Transportation Services Parking Information page or call the Transportation Services office at 940-565-3020.

Would You Like to Know More?

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission provides tips, calendars, maps, and other information to help voters in every state of the U.S., sponsored by the Texas Secretary of State, provides voter information resources for Texas residents. provides up to date schedules, statistics, polling site locations, and other resources for Denton County voters. Use the Voter Lookup service to find out if you are registered to vote in Denton County.

The UNT Libraries Election Connection provides links to election information resources for the UNT community.

If you have any questions about Tuesday’s event or wish to learn about any other civic awareness events hosted by the UNT Libraries, please contact us at


Article by Bobby Griffith.

Image: National Voter Registration Day logo.

Posted by & filed under Get Help, Is that a Document?, Special Days.

If you or your children are looking for reading material to keep you entertained and informed during the summer months while school is out, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has some excellent suggestions.

In 1988 the NEH requested supplemental reading lists from public and private schools in every state, then selected sixty of those lists to compile a composite list based on the most popular suggestions. In order to keep the list limited to true “classics” that had lasted at least one generation, only books published before 1960 were included. This master list was released under the title Summertime Favorites and became an instant hit.

There wasn’t a big enough budget to send every schoolchild a copy, but a copy was sent to each school superintendent and each public library in the United States, and individual copies were provided for free on request. Today the original list and its successors are available in digital form to anyone who has access to the Internet.

NEH reissued the list in 1991 and 1995 under the title Timeless Classics, but the titles remained the same as those selected in 1988. By 2012 over a generation had passed, and NEH staff reviewed their entire reading list and updated it for a new generation. The 2012 NEH Summer Booklist for Young Readers is available only on the Web and covers only suggestions for grades K–8. Older readers are referred to the College Board’s list of 101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers, for which NEH has provided a number of supplemental study materials.

In 2014, as they were gearing up for their 50th anniversary, the NEH reviewed their perennially popular summer reading list and realized that very little on it was nonfiction. (Perhaps this is because nonfiction is more likely than fiction and poetry to become obsolete.) After consulting with experts in education and library science, reviewing similar book lists, and crowdsourcing more suggestions, they came up with an extensive list of suggested Nonfiction Favorites suitable for K–12 readers.

How many of these books have you read? Even if you’re not in school anymore, you might want to catch up on some of these timeless classics!


Article by Bobby Griffith.

Illustrations from posters for NEH Summertime Favorites Booklist and NEH Nonfiction Favorites Booklist.

Posted by & filed under Toys "R" U.S..

In 1918 the Bureau of Cartoons was established by the Committee on Public Information as a method for recruiting the nation’s cartoonists to promote various campaigns during World War I. The following year, after the war ended, the CPI and its Bureau of Cartoons were abolished, but over the next hundred years the federal government has continued to use cartoons and comics to add visual interest, drama, and fun to the presentation of various types of government information; and to simplify complex concepts for a public diverse in age, learning styles, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds.


A variety of cartoon formats and genres have been used to illustrate government publications over the decades, ranging from simple illustrations, single-panel or single-page cartoons, or comic strips, to more elaborate storyboards, comic books, fotonovelas, and in more recent years even some edgy, adult-oriented, high-quality graphic novels.

Government comics are available on virtually every topic under the sun. Some of the most popular include military and civil defense; civic engagement and the workings of the government; environmental issues; employment and social security; health and safety; and consumer awareness.

Many government comics are directed toward specific audiences, and in some cases the audience will determine the nature of the nature of the presentation. For instance, in order to raise awareness about scams being reported among the Latino community, the Federal Trade Commission developed a series of informational pamphlets in Spanish and English presented in the format of the fotonovela, a genre popular among Spanish-speaking audiences. The fotonovela format has also been used to present information and advice on health issues of concern to Spanish-speaking immigrants. Some other specialized audiences for government comics include military personnel, parentsNative Americans, and, of course, children and teenagers.


This is Ann...she drinks blood!

Some of the most famous artists and writers have produced cartoons for government publications, in some cases before becoming a household name. Famous cartoonists who produced government comics while serving in the Armed Forces include George Baker, Will Eisner, Dr. Seuss, Robert Chesley Osborn, Al Hirschfeld, and many others. Milton Caniff was found unfit for military service, but still contributed cartoons and illustrations to the war effort. Kurt Schaffenberger served in the U.S. Army during World War II and worked as a translator for the Office of Special Services, but it was later, in the 1960s when he created The “Hidden Crew” for the U.S. Air Force.

Commercially-successful cartoonists who created works for other departments include Charles Schultz, Al Capp, Charles Biro, and Morrie Turner. In some cases, an already commercially published (and copyrighted) cartoon, such as Scott Adams’ Dilbert, will be incorporated into a new government document.

Other government cartoons have been produced anonymously, sometimes by professional agencies; sometimes by amateur cartoonists who have more enthusiasm than skill (see for example, the Freddie Food Stamp cartoon below, or the even more primitive Fantastic Tidal Datums).

In 2010 the U.S. Government Printing Office released Squeaks Discovers Type!, their first comic book to be produced entirely in-house by GPO employees.


Charlie Brown, Pogo, Lil’ Abner, Rex Morgan, M.D., Captain America (and the Campbell Kids!)Mark Trail, Dilbert, and many other characters already familiar to the public from the newsstands and daily newspapers have made special appearances in government comics.

In other cases unique characters such as Smokey BearMcGruff the Crime Dog, and Connie Rodd have been created as official mascots to promote specific agencies or agendas.

Many stories in government comics are one-offs, in which a unique character appears only once to explain a specific idea and then is never heard from again. A few of these government characters whose careers never quite took off are Komrad IvanEl Gato, the Cat; Pip, the Magic Safety Elephant; Sprocket Man; the Garbage Gremlin, Bert the Turtle; and Freddy Food Stamp.


Occasionally there have been controversies over using comics to impart government information. These are a few of the objections that have been raised to various government comics over the years:

  • They have featured sexist or racist stereotypes, especially those issued during the World War II era. Later comics might contain profane language or violent images unsuitable to children.
  • They may trivialize important issues, or oversimplify complex issues. Government pamphlets are intended to make complex ideas easy to understand, but if the explanatory text is minimized to make room for pictures that don’t convey a great deal of information, the educational content can end up shortchanged.
  • They may promote private businesses at public expense. Although most government publications are in the public domain, in some cases a well-known cartoonist who produces a comic book for the government is under contract to a publisher or syndicate that retains the copyright to the publication, and the characters are sometimes protected trademarks. Some government comics incorporate commercial mascots, such as The “Battle of the Energy Drainers”, which doubles as a lesson in energy conservation and an ad for Campbell’s Soup.
  • They waste taxpayer money on frivolous products.
  How to Spot a Jap  


In addition to government comics, there are many government documents that are not comics themselves, but comment on various aspects of comics and the comics industry. For example, U.S. Copyright Office Circular 44 provides copyright guidance for cartoonists seeking to protect their intellectual property.

In April and June of 1954, the U.S. Congress held a series of hearings to investigate a possible correlation between crime, horror, and superhero comic books and the current epidemic of juvenile delinquency. One of the key witnesses at the hearings was Dr. Fredric Wertham, a psychiatrist who treated juvenile delinquents. He had noticed that many of his young patients read comic books and drew the conclusion that reading comics led to criminal behavior, a thesis that was explored in his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent.

The conclusions and recommendations of the investigating committee were published later in an interim report, but even before this report was released, in order to sidestep the threat of government regulation, members of the comics industry decided to self-regulate by forming the Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA). In October of 1954 they adopted the Comics Code Authority, which imposed a code of ethics and standards for comics. Comics that adhered to the code received a seal of approval from the CMAA. Over the years, as comic books competed with television and catered to a more adult audience, publishers chafed at the quaint restrictions of the Comics Code, which seemed a relic of a bygone era. Even though the rules were relaxed in 1971, and again in 1989, they were increasingly ignored by artists and publishers until finally, in 2011, the Comics Code Authority and their code quietly expired.

Several court cases over the years have involved comics. One of the earliest was Detective Comics, Inc. v. Bruns Publications, Inc., 111 F. 2d 432 (2d Cir. 1940), in which a judge found that the “attributes and antics” of a character called Wonder Man were sufficiently similar to those of Superman to constitute a copyright infringement. The transcripts of testimony in this case have been digitized and posted on Ken Quattro’s The Comics Detective blog.

If you don’t want the copyright to your cartoons or comic strips to be infringed, be sure to read U.S. Copyright Office Circular 44, which provides copyright guidance for cartoonists seeking to protect their intellectual property.

In the late 1980s the Chicago Tribune published a series of Dick Tracy comic strips that told a fictional story involving payola, murder, and a shady concert promotion company called Flipside, Inc. An actual company named Flip Side, Inc. sued the authors and the publisher (unsuccessfully) for libel, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress in the case of Flip Side, Inc. v. Chicago Tribune Co., 206 Ill. App. 3d 641 (1990).

In addition to these works, there are also several government publications that are more tangentially related to comics, such as handbooks on printing, drawing, graphic design, and layout.

Do You Want to Know More?

Visit the Eagle Commons Library Service Desk in Sycamore Hall for assistance in locating government document comic books at UNT.

Several government document comics are featured in the current UNT Libraries exhibition “Bam! Pow! Boom! Comics in the Library,” on display in the Willis Library Forum until August 15, 2017.

These books and Web sites can provide further insight into the world of government comics:


Article by Bobby Griffith.

Illustration Credits (in order of appearance):

“This is Your Security” cartoon is from The Cartoon Book, available online at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Government Comics Collection Web site.

Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic graphic novel is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response Web site.

Fotonovela illustration is excerpted from Motivation for Change: John’s Story: The Consequences of His Heavy Drinking and His Recovery, available for purchase or download at the SAMHSA Publications Ordering page.

Dr. Seuss mosquito illustration is from “This is Ann…she drinks blood!” on verso of U.S. Army Orientation Course newsmap for Monday, November 8, 1943, available from the UNT Libraries Digital Library.

Squeaks Discovers Type! is available online at the HathiTrust Web site and can be purchased from the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Sprocket Man is available online at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Government Comics Collection Web site.

Freddy Food Stamp illustration is excerpted from Food Stamps for You, available online at the Internet Archive.

Connie Rodd illustration is excerpted from “Joe Dope: M1 Rifle Care”, a cartoon insert from PS: The Preventive Maintenance Monthly, 1954 series, issue 26, which can be read online at the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries Digital Collections.

“How to Spot a Jap” is a cartoon insert from the U.S. War and Navy Departments’ first edition (1942) of Pocket Guide to China, and can be read online at Ethan Persoff‘s political ephemera Web page.

The “Battle of the Energy Drainers”, featuring Captain America and the Campbell Kids, is available online at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Government Comics Collection Web site.

Juvenile Delinquency (Comic Books) is available online at the Internet Archive.

Story of “The Wonder Man” from Wonder Comics No. 1 is in the public domain and can be read online at the Golden Age Heroes blog site.