Editorial cartoons were a relatively new addition to the media during the mid-nineteenth century. Previously, newspapers relied on simple, clip art-like means of illustration, but in the 1850s, developments in print technology made it possible for issues to print detailed woodcut drawings designed for the masses.
Like today's comic artists, nineteenth-century political cartoonists reacted to the world around them, depicting their own interpretations of the world. They were blunt in their compositions, some using crude caricatures to make a statement. Political cartoonists during the Civil War Era also frequently produced caricatures of those in positions of power, like President Abraham Lincoln. This exhibit features a number of cartoons from Vanity Fair and Phunny Phellow, which published a number of politically charged drawings during the Civil War Era.