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MC 554; MP-43; Ph-43; T-327

Marge, 1904 -1993. Papers of Marge, 1856-1994: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

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Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College


Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Radcliffe College Class of 1950 and the Radcliffe College Class of 1956.

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 554; MP-43; Ph-43; T-327
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Marge, 1904-1993
Title: Papers of Marge, 1856-1994
Date(s): 1856-1994
Quantity: 25.55 linear feet (16 file boxes, 5 folio boxes, 9 folio+ boxes, 1 oversize box) plus 1 supersize folder, 4 photograph folders, 14 motion pictures, 1 audiotape, 2 phonograph records)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Business correspondence, artwork, published cartoons, correspondence, family memorabilia, and Little Lulu-themed commercial products of Marjorie Henderson Buell, cartoonist and creator of Little Lulu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 2006-M3, 2006-M123, 2006-M145, 2007-M78
Portions of the papers of Marge were given to the Schlesinger Library by her sons, Lawrence Buell and Frederick Buell; other parts were purchased from them in 2006. The Little Lulu doll was purchased in 2007.

Processing Information:

Processed: April 2008
By: Jenny Gotwals

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the unpublished papers created by Marge is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright for use of the character of Little Lulu is held by Classic Media, Inc. Copyright for use of published cartoons may be held by the publications in which they appeared. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Marge Papers, 1856-1994; item description, dates. MC 554, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

SEPARATION RECORD

Donors: Lawrence and Frederick Buell
Accession number: 2006-M3
Processed by: Jenny Gotwals
The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library book collection (pending review by curator):

BIOGRAPHY

Marjorie Lyman Henderson Buell was born December 11, 1904, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Bertha Brown Henderson and Horace Lyman Henderson. Marjorie had two younger sisters, Martha Elizabeth "Betty" Henderson, born in 1907, and Dorothy Hudson Henderson, born in 1909. The family moved to a farm in Malvern, Pennsylvania, when Marjorie was five; for several years, the children were home-schooled. Beginning in 1913, Marjorie attended the Friends' Graded School in West Chester, Pennsylvania, going on to graduate from high school at Villa Maria Academy in Immaculata, Pennsylvania, in 1921. Marjorie married Clarence Addison Buell, an executive at Bell Telephone, in 1936; they had two sons, Lawrence (born in 1939) and Frederick (born in 1942).
Bertha Henderson was an amateur cartoonist, and the Henderson sisters were encouraged in artistic pursuits. Marjorie created detailed illustrated letters for her family members, wrote and illustrated storybooks, and sold drawings, greeting cards, and paper dolls to her school friends. She drew illustrations for her high school literary magazine and yearbook. Marjorie loved horses, and was involved in riding and showing them for many years. A good number of her later cartoons involve horses and their hapless riders.
After high school, Marjorie studied oil painting and sculpture for a year at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She decided she preferred the comic arts, and began sending one-panel drawings, signed "Marge," to local publications. Ruth Plumly Thompson, editor of the children's page of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, and later author of some of the Wizard of Oz books, was an early mentor. Marge's first published cartoon appeared in the Public Ledger in 1921. The next year, she sold several cartoons about a young flapper, in a series entitled "Dotty Declares," to the humor magazine Judge.
Beginning around 1925, Marge's cartoons began appearing regularly in Life, Country Gentleman, Ladies' Home Journal, Collier's, and the Saturday Evening Post. That year her one-panel cartoon series about flapper courtship, "The Boy Friend," was distributed to newspapers by the Ledger Syndicate. "The Boy Friend" ran until 1927 and was followed by a similar syndicated series, "Steaming Youth." From 1926 to 1929, Marge's illustrations, including cartoons and verse about a flapper named "Dashing Dot," often filled a full-color Sunday page in the Philadelphia Public Ledger.
Marge also wrote humorous columns, often illustrated, for Life and the Saturday Evening Post. "Kids in the Country," illustrated tales about Marge's childhood, ran in the Saturday Evening Post, along with other columns about dating and horse shows, beginning in 1928. "From Me to You," in which Marge detailed her (sometimes fictional) exploits, ran in Life from 1932 to 1934; her writing continued to appear in that magazine until it closed in 1936. Marge's drawings illustrated several books of humor, including Men are Like Street Cars, by Graeme and Sarah Lorimer (Little, Brown & Co., 1932), and My First Baby and Other Ambulance Anecdotes, by the Interne (Macrae-Smith, 1933).
In December 1934, Marge was asked to create a single-panel cartoon with no words, to appear on the back page of the Saturday Evening Post. The first appearance of "Little Lulu," as she was named by the Post's editors, was on February 23, 1935. Little Lulu was a young girl with corkscrew curls, who was impish and outwitted neighborhood boys and adults. The cartoons often involved simple sight gags, such as Little Lulu wearing a fake mustache to gain admittance to a theater show for "men only," or Lulu borrowing library books in order to stand on them to watch a baseball game over a tall fence. The first color "Little Lulu" cartoon appeared in the issue of August 28, 1937. The cartoon ran weekly through 1944, and Little Lulu became known to a wide audience. Between 1936 and 1944, six books of compilations of the Saturday Evening Post cartoons were published by David McKay. The Post and its parent company, Curtis Publishing, capitalized on Lulu's popularity by featuring her in many of its calls for advertisers and direct advertisements to the public. The first Little Lulu doll was created by Knickerbocker Toys in 1939, and given as a gift to Post subscribers.
While drawing "Little Lulu," Marge continued to draw other cartoons. In 1936, Ruth Plumly Thompson became the editor of King Features, which published monthly magazines of humorous stories and comic illustrations and strips; Marge often illustrated Thompson's stories published therein. A serial entitled "King Kojo," written by Thompson and illustrated by Marge, was first published in King Comics, then published as a book by David McKay in 1938. Thompson regularly wrote a humorous verse entitled "Sis Sez" for the back page of King Comics; Marge illustrated these as well. By 1943, however, Little Lulu's expanding horizons meant that Marge could focus only on her.
Between 1943 and 1947, Paramount Pictures distributed 26 animated short cartoons of Little Lulu and her friends made by Famous Studios. In 1944 Marge signed an agreement with International Cellucotton (later Kimberly-Clark) for Little Lulu to be the mascot of Kleenex Tissue's advertising campaigns. Little Lulu remained with Kleenex until 1960. Marge drew both narrative strips and other art for the advertising campaigns, which were a huge success. In 1949 and 1957, giant neon billboards of Little Lulu and Kleenex were placed in New York City's Times Square, and Little Lulu appeared in several Kleenex television advertisements in 1956 and 1958. The artwork for Kleenex was plenty of work for Marge; when approached about drawing Little Lulu comic books, she decided she could not do the work herself. She created model charts to show how the characters should look, and consulted on story ideas, but other artists drew and wrote the comics, officially titled "Marge's Little Lulu." The first Little Lulu comic book was published in 1945, and became a regular monthly in 1948. In June 1950, a daily syndicated strip of Little Lulu was created and ran until 1969 in newspapers throughout the United States.
Marge continued to license Little Lulu's image for a variety of products, while keeping the copyright to the character in her name and always retaining creative control. From 1944 onward, Little Lulu could be found on greeting cards, posters, candy, gloves, hats, paper dolls, puzzles, crayons, drinking glasses, balloons, sheet music, and a host of other products. "Marge's Little Lulu" comic books were translated into several languages, and two more films, color-animated cartoons, were produced in 1961 and 1962. When the Kleenex advertising campaigns ended in 1960, Marge continued to manage her business empire, with the help of a lawyer and licensing manager.
In 1971, Marge decided to retire, and sold the rights to the Little Lulu character to Western Publishing Company, which had been publishing the comic books and other products for years. In 1974 she and her husband moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where she was the focus of a museum exhibit about Little Lulu in 1982. Marjorie Buell died of lymphoma on May 30, 1993, in Elyria, Ohio.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in six series:

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The Marge papers contain correspondence, business contracts, comic books, scrapbooks, graphic material, photographs, audio-visual material, products, biographical material, original artwork, early drawings, and family autograph albums.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].
Copyright for published Little Lulu images (cartoon strips or images from the comic books) is held by Classic Media, Inc., a successor to Western Publishing. Copyright for Marge's work published in magazines through the 1920s and 1930s is assumed to be held by those magazines or their successors. An attempt has been made to identify the magazines in which Marge's original artwork that is in this collection were published. Not all were able to be identified.
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1856-1993 (#1F+B.1-1F+B.5, 2.1-3.5, PD.1v), includes clippings, yearbooks, personal documents, juvenile letters, and autograph albums of Marge and her family.
Subseries A, Biographical and personal, 1911-1993 (#1F+B.1-1F+B.5, 2.1-2.7), includes Marjorie Buell's grade school report cards and high school literary magazine and yearbook, both of which were illustrated with her drawings; and a scrapbook with childhood drawings and letters, and early copies of her published writings and drawings. The subseries also includes published clippings about Marge.
Subseries B, Henderson family, 1856-1974 (#2.8-3.4, PD.1v), includes an autograph book owned by Mary Ellen (Hudson) Henderson (1831-1911), Horace Lyman Henderson's mother; Horace Henderson's Bible, with two early drawings by Marge inside the back cover; several years of "Kamp Kuzzins," Horace Henderson's handwritten accounts of Henderson family reunions, and an accompanying photograph album; and documents relating to the 1969 sale of Marjorie and Clarence Buell's land (inherited from Bertha Henderson) in Pennsylvania.
Subseries C, Buell family, 1877-1882 (#3.5), consists of an autograph book owned by Mary "May" E. Buell (1861-ca.1909), the paternal aunt of Clarence Addison Buell. One albumen photograph is pasted in, as are several examples of scrap.
Series II, PROFESSIONAL, 1939-1994 (#3.6-8.10), includes Marge's business correspondence from throughout her career.
Subseries A, Business correspondence and contracts, 1939-1990 (inclusive), 1944-1972 (bulk) (#3.6-8.4), includes communication and contracts among Marge, her lawyers, her licensing agent, and companies licensing or using Little Lulu's name and/or image. Folder headings in Marge's hand appear in quotations. Correspondence and contracts are arranged alphabetically by company or recipient. A folder of general letters filed chronologically follows the alphabetical arrangement. Folders may include correspondence, contracts, and statement of royalties. Buell's licensing agent, William Erskine, or her lawyer, Howard Stern, is the correspondent in many cases. Correspondence with Another Rainbow Publishing (#3.7), which re-printed Little Lulu comic books in the 1980s, includes Marge's handwritten drafts of answers to biographical questions and a history of Little Lulu's creation. Advertisements and actual products resulting from most of these merchandising contracts can be found in Series V. Kleenex advertising, which was drawn and supervised by Marge, can be found in Series III, both in scrapbooks and as loose clippings or advertising.
Subseries B, Exhibits and fan mail, 1973-1994 (#8.5-8.10), contains material related to a 1982 exhibit of Marge's artwork, and correspondence from fans dating from after her retirement. A folder of requests for interviews includes Marge's answers to biographical questions. Also included are runs of two Little Lulu fan magazines.
Series III, PUBLISHED WORK, ca.1922-1989 (#1F+B.6-1F+B.7, 9.1-14.11, 15OB.1-15OB.6, 16FB.1-16FB.3, 17F+B.1-21F+B.6, 22.1-22.11), contains clippings of Marge's published cartoons, most of them pasted in scrapbooks by Marge or her husband. Also included are advertisements for Marge's comic strips and cartoons. They are arranged chronologically.
Subseries A, Drawn and written by Marge, ca.1922-1989 (#1F+B.6-1F+B.7, 9.1-14.11, 15OB.1-15OB.5, 16FB.1-16FB.2, 17F+B.1-17F+B.10, 18.1), includes scrapbooks of clippings of Marge's published work, both named strips and single cartoons. There is considerable overlap of cartoons among many of the scrapbooks. Named strips included are "The Boy Friend," "Big Boy and Little Beautiful," "Steaming Youth," "Dotty Declares," "Little Lulu," "Awful Audrey," "Sis Sez," and "King Kojo." Marge contributed single-panel cartoons as well as illustrated columns to a number of periodicals, and these are also well represented. "Little Lulu" cartoons in this subseries are those published in the Saturday Evening Post, and later reprinted in the David McKay books. Also included are pre-publication sheets and published clippings of Little Lulu Kleenex advertisements. Several scrapbooks of Little Lulu cartoons and advertisements also include clippings about Marge, and about Little Lulu's fame as a character. A 1940 yearbook for Baldwin High School (Baldwin, New York) with illustrations of Little Lulu throughout, is also included.
Subseries B, Created by Marge, drawn by others, 1946-1976 (#15OB.6, 16FB.3, 18.2-18.11, 19F+B.1-21F+B.6, 22.1-22.11), contains published Little Lulu material which was not actually drawn by Marge. This includes the 1946 McLaughlin Brothers Little Lulu books, a complete run of the Little Lulu syndicated comic strip, and Little Lulu comic books printed for sale outside the United States. Also included are sheets of character models for "Iris," from 1958, and for "Blythe," as Iris was re-named. Marge's Blythe was published by Dell Comics in February 1960, as one of their "four-color comics" books. This was the only published appearance of Blythe; nevertheless, a doll was also created.
Series IV. ORIGINAL ARTWORK, ca.1912-ca.1962 (#15OB.7-15OB.9, 16FB.4-16FB.17, 22.12-25FB.10, 26.1-26.7, 27F+B.1-27F+B.13), includes cartoons and other drawings by Marge. Most items in this series are one-panel cartoons: pen and ink drawings, sometimes with added watercolor or wash, drawn on thick illustration board. A few cartoons are created from colored paper cut-outs. The cartoons often have holes in the corner where they were pinned up, either by Marge or the publication; many have printer's marks. Some have a Curtis Publishing Company copyright sticker on the verso. These cartoons are primarily from ca.1922 to 1939. Few are dated, but published versions of the cartoons appear throughout the scrapbooks in Series III, Subseries A. Publication dates and periodicals, when known, have been recorded on the verso. Drawings were generally submitted to publications up to 8 weeks before publication. In some cases, the caption that appears below the drawing is not the same as that which was published.
An album of pictures Marge drew recounting her 1921 trip to Europe with her cousin is among the juvenilia; several other early pieces are drawn with pastels, and a few show a markedly different style of art from that Marge would later develop for her cartoons. Only a very few pieces of original art feature Little Lulu.
Drawings are organized by the title of the named strip or character, if known, then by topic, and by size. Marge was fond of horses; many of these cartoons involve horses and their sometimes clueless riders. Other habitual topics are animals, children (often behaving badly), overweight women, courtship (usually among flappers and young men), and beauty. Two animation cels from one of Paramount Pictures' animated cartoons are included; these were not drawn by Marge.
Series V. LITTLE LULU PRODUCTS, 1944-1972 (#15OB.10-15OB.13m, 25FB.11m-25FB.12m, 26.8-26.22m, 28m-31m), contains a variety of products, mostly children's toys, using the image of Little Lulu. Advertising for these products can also be found in this series. Related correspondence and contracts can be found in Series II, Subseries A.
Series VI. PHOTOGRAPHS, AUDIOVISUAL, AND OVERSIZE, ca.1890-1989 (#PD.1v-PD.4, MP-51.1-MP-51.14, T-327.1, Ph-43.1-Ph-43.2, 1F+B.1-1F+B.7, 10FB.1-10FB.11, 12F+B.1-13F+B.8, 15OB.1-17F+B.10, 19F+B.1-21F+B.6, 24F+B.1-25FB.12m, 27F+B.1-27F+B.13, 29FBm-30FBm, SD.1) includes photographs and audiovisual material from Little Lulu's Kleenex advertisements and oversized examples of Marge's artwork, published work, and scrapbooks.
Subseries A, Photographs, ca.1890-ca.1980 (#PD.1v-PD.4), includes publicity photographs of Kleenex's Little Lulu campaign, specifically highlighting the Times Square billboards.
Subseries B, Audiovisual, ca.1944-1960 (#MP-51.1-MP-51.14, T-327.1, Ph-43.1-Ph-43.2), contains film and audio of several Little Lulu advertisements for Kleenex, produced by the advertising agency of Foote Cone & Belding.
Subseries C, Oversize, ca.1912-1989 (#1F+B.1-1F+B.7, 10FB.1-10FB.11, 12F+B.1-13F+B.8, 15OB.1-17F+B.10, 19F+B.1-21F+B.6, 24F+B.1-25FB.12m, 27F+B.1-27F+B.13, 29FBm-30FBm, SD.1), is the shelflist for oversize material found throughout this collection. The series includes scrapbooks of Marge's published work, original artwork, Little Lulu products, and advertising for those products.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Artists as authors--United States
Audiotapes
Autograph albums
Businesswomen--United States
Caricatures and cartoons
Cartoonists--United States
Cartoons and comics
Children--Caricatures and cartoons
Comic books
Comic books, strips, etc.--United States
Comic strip characters--United States
Comic strips
Horses--Caricatures and cartoons
Ink washes
Legal documents
Little Lulu (Fictitious character)
Motion pictures
Scrapbooks
Women cartoonists--United States
Women-owned business enterprises--United States
Thompson, Ruth Plumly, 1893-1976

sch01138