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R.I.P Anne Cleveland


Anne Cleveland, a cartoonist from the ’30s to the ’50s, whose main subject was college humor and her alma mater, Vassar, has died at age 92, according to a comment on this blog by her granddaughter, Ursula. We’ve taken the liberty of reprinting the comment here with some minor technical editing:

My grandmother died in February 2009 (she was born in May 1916, not 1917, so the previous age was wrong). The Oregonian refused to publish a paid obituary with a cartoon instead of a photograph– yeah, I know, my mother is up in arms about it.

Anne had a twin brother, Van (short for Van Buren; I think that was his middle name), and two younger brothers, Stanley and Harlan. Her father had volunteered as a clergyman in WWI; he died of a blood infection contracted during that time period when Anne was a girl (somewhere between ten and thirteen). Her mother supported the family; she worked at Andover as a house mother for a while, and eventually became Dean of Women at Rollins College.

Anne started out at Vassar as a classics major, and soon switched to art history. (There are several family legends about her ability to identify art forgeries.) At some point she taught a few classes at Rollins; during WWII she worked for the WAC, drawing maps. (My mother has some sketches of Anne’s fellow WACs.)

My grandfather’s name is Augustus R. White; to this day, he says that he married Anne because she was the most brilliant woman he’d ever met. Anne and Gus had two children, A. Tobias White and my mother, Susan (now Susan Whitcher). Gus’s family had lived in Shanghai before the War, and maintained business interests in Japan afterwards; that’s why Anne spent time in Japan (where my mother was born).

I understand that in addition to the books, which one can buy on Amazon, Anne published some cartoons in the New Yorker, but I have not yet tracked them down . . .

Anne & Gus divorced c. 1965. After that, Anne spent a couple of years in New York, battling depression, then moved to Ashland, Oregon. She lived in Ashland until the early 1980s, until she moved to Baltimore to be closer to my mother; she moved back to Portland, Oregon with my family in 1992.

Cleveland’s cartooning career was fairly minimal, but she became something of a cause celebré here at this blog, for various reasons. Instead of rehashing that, we’ll just post links to appreciations by Shaenon K. Garrity, here, here, and here. (We’ve stolen a photo of young Cleveland and a cartoon from Garrity.) Our last post on Cleveland can be found here. Our condolences to her family, and thanks to Ursula for passing on the news.


  1. I literally stumbled across Anne Cleveland’s work when I found two pages of her cartoons of college in a book on the popular culture of the 1940s. I immediately became a fan and have been looking for her work ever since. I’m sorry to hear she has died, but she managed to transcend time and space with her art in a way that few others have. Her subjects always seem fresh and contemporary. Condolences to her family.

  2. That’s sad to hear. Is there an archive of her work? She was a wonderful cartoonist. Did anyone out there track her down for an interview in her last years?

  3. After this announcement, I reread all of The Educated Woman, Anne’s great collection of Vassar-inspired cartoons. Jean Anderson also contributed a significant amount of wonderful cartoons. Does anyone know what happened to her?

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