The editorial cartoons and related lesson plans from The Dirksen Center will teach students to identify issues, analyze symbols, acknowledge the need for background knowledge, recognize stereotypes and caricatures, think critically, and appreciate the role of irony and humor.
Editorial cartoonists loved Everett Dirksen (1896-1969)—his position of influence as Minority Leader in the Senate (1959-69), his way with words, and, of course, his distinctive appearance. Over the years, Senator Dirksen’s staff compiled a scrapbook containing more than 300 editorial cartoons. Topics covered include Vietnam, civil rights, Republican Party politics, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, reapportionment, Taft-Hartley 14(b), school prayer, Dirksen’s recording career, Senate procedures, congressional pay, presidential appointments, and Dirksen’s legacy. Naturally, cartoonists also used these topics to depict Dirksen’s relationship with President Lyndon Johnson, with his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, and with the Supreme Court. In addition, cartoonists sent Dirksen between 50 and 60 original sketches on equally diverse topics.
Among the scores of cartoonists represented in the collection are Herblock, Gib Crockett, Hugo, Bill Mauldin, Gene Basset, Pat Oliphant, Al Capp, Wayne Stayskal, Jim Berry, Guernsey LePelley, Tom Engelhardt, Paul Conrad, and Jim Berryman.