Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
Scope and Content
The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center acquired the Thomas Nast Collection in 1959. Additional information on Nast may be found in the Center’s Biographical File. A microfilm of the Nast scrapbook of clipping was produced by the Hayes Center.
Thomas Nast was born Sept. 26, 1840 in Landau, Bavaria the son of Thomas and Apellonia Nast. The family immigrated to the United States in 1846, settling in New York City where young Thomas studied art. His artistic skill developed such that in 1855 he was hired as a staff artist for Frank Leslie’'s Illustrated Newspaper and by 1859 he was also working as a freelance artist for Harper's Weekly and the New York Illustrated News. Nast traveled to Europe in 1860 gaining great renown for his coverage of boxing in England and Garibaldi's campaigns in Italy. After returning to New York in 1861, Nast married Sarah Edwards. The couple had five children.
Nast joined the staff of Harper’s Weekly in 1862. But rather than drawing battle scenes, Nast proved more adept at showing the experiences of the common soldier and illustrating the political issues of the day. His drawing of Santa Claus in a Union camp wearing stars and stripes was a notable example. During Reconstruction, Nast advocated just treatment for blacks and former slaves and the necessity of Northern intervention to stop white tyranny in the South. His ability to draw poignant caricatures evolved through his work at Harper’s at this time and is evident in some of his cartoons supporting U.S. Grant’s candidacy in 1868 and 1872.
Nast is probably most remembered for his campaign against corruption and abuse of power by the Tweed Ring in New York City led by William Magear Tweed. (Nast's influence on popular thought can be seen through his identification of Tweed as William Marcy Tweed after U.S. Senator William L. Marcy who, in 1832, said, AThey see nothing wrong in the rule that to the victor belong the spoils of the [email protected] While this was a clear reference to Tweed’s spoilsmanship, many people still think of Tweed’s middle name as Marcy.) Nast's use of cartoons brought this situation to the attention of the voters, many of whom could not read, and led to Tweed’s downfall.
With the end of Reconstruction and the Grant presidency, Nast's influence began to wane. The economic and social issues of the 1870s and 1880s lacked the emotion Nast had so effectively used in previous years. As disputes with management increased Nast left Harper’s Weekly in 1886 and tried to start his own weekly journal. When that effort failed he turned to oil painting.
In 1902, Thomas Nast was appointed to a consulship in Ecuador. Shortly after his arrival he contracted yellow fever, died, and was buried there.
Among Nast's most memorable contributions to popular culture was the evolution of Santa Claus from the thin, spiritual character of European tales to the rotund image of today. He also was the first to use the donkey and elephant as symbols of the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.
Scope and Content
The collection, dating from 1860 to 1902, relates to Thomas Nast’s career as an artist. There are many of Nast=s published works from various magazines as well as a number of original sketches These original sketches cover a wide variety of topics, locations, and prominent people of his time.
Another major portion of this collection includes letters to and from Nast dated 1860 to 1901. Included in this correspondence are transcriptions of letters from Thomas to Sally from the originals in the possession of the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. There is also additional correspondence, some with sketches, from Nast=s time in the consular service in Ecuador during 1902.
Other items of interest are a family photo album, photos of Nast, and a volume of autographed letters and newspaper coverage relating to a testimonial given Nast in April 1869. There are also several manuscripts and articles by Nast regarding his trip to Europe, the art of caricature, Boss Tweed, and other topics. A scrapbook of newspaper clippings dated 1904 to 1988, concerning Nast, his career, and his drawings is also found in this collection.
One linear ft. (approx. 600 items)
- Julia Nast to ("Papa") Th. Nast n.p., n.d. 2pp w/envelope a.l.s.
- Th. Nast to "Friend Sheer" [?] n.p., n.d., lp a.l.s.
- Albert Bigelow Paine to Th. Nast dtd "The Players, 16 Cramercy Park Friday" 2pp a.l.s.
- Envelope addressed to Charles Marseilles, Esq. Exeter, NH
- Thomas Nast, Jr. to ("Papa") Th. Nast dtd March 14, n.y. n.p. 4pp a.l.s. w/envelope
- George W. Childs to Th. Nast dtd March 18, n.y. The Public Ledger Building, Philadelphia 2pp a.l.s.
- Th. Nast to Sallie (Mrs. Nast) and Julia dtd Willard's Hotel, Washington, D.C. December 13, n.y. 4pp a.l.
- Copies of parts of letters of Th. Nast & Sallie n.p., n.d. 2pp
- To Sallie (Sarah Edwards) dtd Naples, 29 September 1860 4pp a.l.s.
- Th. & Sallie Nast to Mr./Mrs. Edwards (her parents) dtd Niagara Falls 29 September 1861 lp copy, incomplete
- To [Sallie] "my dearest darIing wife" dtd Harrisburg, 3 July 1863 4pp a.l.s.
- To "My dearest darling, loving Sallie" dtd "Boat to Fortress Monroe" 14 December [1864 4pp copy a.l.s.
- To Mr. Halcott dtd Catskill Mountain House 14 September 1866 lp written and signed by Sallie Nast
- To Mr. Webb dtd New York, 15 January 1867 lp l.s.
- To Mr. E. M. Bacon dtd New York, 17 April 1868 lp l.s.
- To [George William] Mr. Curtis dtd New York 3 August 1868 3pp l.s.
- To New England News Co. dtd Franklin Square 21 November 1868 1 p Signed "Harpers Brothers - Nast"
- To "Friend Richardson" dtd New York 10 April 1869 1p l.s.
Roscoe Conkling to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 21 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast p24
H. [Henry?] Wilson to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 21 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast p20
George H. Boker to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 21 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast p32
Marshall Jewell to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 22 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast p28
Charles Patrick Daly to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 22 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast p30
Samuel P. Avery to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 23 April 
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast p38
Wm. T. Sherman to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 23 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast pl2
George S. Boutwell to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 23 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast pl4
N. P. Chipman to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 24 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast p26
J. Holt to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 26 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast pl8
Schuyler Colfax to Th. Nast dtd 27 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast pl0
John A. Griswold to Th. Nast dtd 27 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast p40
J. F. Kensett to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 27 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast p36
George Wilkes to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 27 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast p22
Salem H. Wales to Rush C. Hawkins dtd 28 April 1869
- SEE: Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Th. Nast p34
- To J. R. Osgood, Esq. dtd New York, 22 November 1869 lp a.l.s.
- To "Dear Sir" dtd n.p. 15 May 1871 lp a.n.s.
- To James D. Reid, Esq. dtd New York 8 June 1871 lp l.s.
- To Sallie dtd Washington [D.C.] 29 June 1872 4pp a.l.s.
- To "Mr dear General" [C. C. Sniffen] dtd Morristown [NJ] 17 March 1873 2pp l.s.\
- To [James] Redpath dtd Morristown [NJ] 30 June 1873 lp l.s.
- To Messrs. Goodsell dtd Morristown [NJ] 7 Aug. 1873 lp l.s.
- To [George William] Mr. Curtis dtd Morristown [NJ] 17 September 1873 2pp l.s.
- To "Friend [James] Redpath" dtd Morristown [NJ] 24 November 1873 lp l.s.
- To [George William] Mr. Curtis dtd Morristown [NJ] 9 July 1874 2pp l.s.
- To Mr. Gade dtd Morristown, NJ 8 April 1878 3pp written and signed by Sallie Nast Union League Club of New York to Th. Nast dtd 23 October 1880 lp invitation to reception for General Grant w/envelope and admittance card made out to Mr. Thomas Nast
- To Mr. Allan Bourne dtd Morristown, NJ 26 December 1882 lp l.s.
- To Redpath Lyceum Bureau dtd Morristown, NJ 27 January 1885 lp l.s.
- To Mr. George H. Hathaway dtd Morristown, NJ 23 February 1885 3pp l.s.
- To Mr. E. C. Bacon dtd n.p., 20 Aug. 1888 2pp [card written by Sallie Nast, signed by Th. Nast]
- To Graphic Co. dtd Morristown, NJ 24 Aug. 1888 2pp l.s.
- To The Graphic Co. dtd n.p., 10 September 1888 2pp l.s.
- To Mr. M. M. Minton dtd Morristown, NJ 1 July 1891 4pp w/envelope l.s.
- Th. Nast, Jr. dtd Exeter, NH 2 December 1893 lp a.l.s. w/response on same letter dtd New York 4 December 1893 a.n.s. Th. Nast, Jr.
- To Rev. E. C. Arnold dtd Morristown, NJ 3 February 1896 lp l.s.
- To [George Edward ?] Pond dtd Morristown, NJ 12 May 1896 lp l.s.
Garret A. Hobart
- To Th. Nast dtd Paterson, NJ 25 June 1896 lp a.l.s.
- To Frank E. Partington dtd Morristown, NJ 30 January 1897 3pp l.s.
- To Frank E. Partington dtd Morristown, NJ 25 February 1897 lp l.s.
- To Th. Nast dtd 304 W. 56th St., NY 8 April 1898 2pp a.l.s. copy; original in folder of Th. Nast Original sketches-misc
- To [Rev. I.M. Hubbert?] dtd n.p., 29 November 1898 2pp incomplete; no signature
Alex. S. Twombly
- To Th. Nast dtd 17 January 1901 3pp a.l.s. w/enclosure letter from A. S. Twombly to Th. Nast n.d. 3pp
Correspondence/Mss. May - Dec 1902:
- For Consular period - approx. 120 pcs. (in one folder)
Th. Nast Diaries:
- Dtd January 1 - June 1, 1860
- Dtd November 27, 1860 - January 20, 1861
Th. Nast Manuscripts:
- "My journey to Europe" February 15, 1860 - March 19, 1860
- "Caricature" by Th. Nast l9pp [2pp] 2pp [1p] 3pp
- "My life 'per day" l0pp
- "A better class of people" 6pp
Th. Nast - Misc: (1 folder)
Th. Nast - Miscellaneous: Photographs (1 folder)
Mrs. Th. Nast: (1 folder)
- Correspondence to Mr. A. M. Moore dtd Morristown, NJ 17 January 1908 4pp a.l.s.
Articles in hand of Sallie Nast. probably dictated by Th. Nast:
- "The Critic" 12 February 1887 2pp
- "Living readers of to-day may not be as familiar with the history of Boss Tweed and his theft as I am. ..." 5pp
- "The rise and fall of the people's government. A government of the people, by the people and for the people did perish from the earth. ..." 15pp
Phrenologicalanalysis of Nast age 19:
- Dtd 31 January 1860 llpp [Copy of phrenological chart by Fowler & Wells, New York]
Th. Nast Letters - from the Nast Collection at the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA:
[Transcriptions of letters to Sallie Nast]
- Dtd London March 9, 1860
- Dtd London March 18, 1860
- Dtd London April 20, 1860
- Dtd Genoa? [still in London?] 2 June 1860
- Dtd Palermo 22 June 1860
- Dtd Palermo 20 July 1860
- Dtd Naples 28 September 1860
- Dtd Naples 8 October 1860
- Dtd Naples 12 November 1860
- Dtd n.p. 13 November 1860
- Dtd n.p. 1863 pencil? "On board the cars few minutes after 10 am"
- Dtd Philadelphia 1 July 1863
- Dtd Harrisburg 4 July 1863
- Dtd Harrisburg 5 July 1863
- Dtd Shippensburg 7 July 1863
- Dtd "On the road to Washington "(not Richmond)" January 1864?
- Dtd [Washington] House of Representatives n.d.
- Dtd [Washington] Willard's Hotel n.d.
- Dtd [Washington] Willard's Hotel n.d.
- Dtd "The Front" n.d.
- Dtd Washington 29 January 1872
- Dtd Washington 2 February 1872
- Dtd Washington 5 February 1872
- Dtd Washington 6 February 1872
- Dtd Washington 8 February 1872
- Dtd New York 9 February 1872 (telegram from J. W. Harper, Jr. to Th. Nast)
- Dtd Washington 10 February 1872
- Dtd Washington 13 February 1872
- Dtd Dover, NH 8 October 
"Tommy on Top" by Draper Hill:
- 17pp copy courtesy of author, 1976
Thomas Nast Original Sketches: (Folders listed below by subject)
- James G. Blaine
- Foreign travel
- Honeymoon at Niagara Falls
- Indian, American
- Louis Napoleon
- Mrs. Gray/Bakers Union
- Nast, of himself
- "Sketches by Th: Nast" xii pp
- Boss Tweed
Copies of Th. Nast sketches: (one folder)
Prints of Th. Nast sketches: Undated (one folder)
Prints of Th. Nast sketches 1872:
- "Well roared, Lion," and "Well shone, moon!"
- "What I know about Horace Greeley"
- "What the Senatorial cabal can not 'blow over"
- "The Guardian angel of the poor people's money"
- "The 'liberal' conspirators (who, you all know, are honorable men)"
- "Here!" (New Hampshire heard from)
- "New fields of operation"
- "The clown in the judicial ring"
- "The sudden appearance of the demon Garvey"
- "When this cruel war is over"
- "The Presidential fever on the Supreme bench"
- "The Republic is not ungrateful"
- "The Cincinnati convention, in a Pickwickian sense"
- "As usual, he put his foot in it"
- "We are on the home stretch"
- "Rise and explain"
- "Who are the haters?"
- "H.G. - 'Let us clasp hands over the bloody chasm."
- "None but the brave deserves the fair"
- "Save me from my tobacco partner!"
- "Out, damned spot! Out, I say"--Shakespeare
Prints of Th. Nast sketches 1875:
- "Policy" A kick in the right direction
- "Calling in frauds"
- "Tammany down again--the 'Reform' trap smashed"
Prints of Th. Nast sketches 1876:
- "Let no whisky escape"
- "Economical mania"
- "In for it"
- "A creature of circumstances"
- "A threat in store for European despots"
- "An experiment worth trying"
- "The political situation"
- "The corruption period--the latest foreign contribution laid at the door of the White House"
- "The investigating grave-diggers"
- "The foremost champion of this spirit of reform"--H. Seymour
- "The Democratic tiger gone mad"
- "Bottom facts"
- "Continue that I broached in jest"--Shakespeare
- "Tweed-le-dee and Tilden-dum"
- "Awake from 'A midsummer night's dream"
- "Why we laugh"
- "Reform is necessary' in prison suits"
- "Box and Cox"
- "A box stew; or, an enviable position"
- "The ring breaker"
- "Reform is necessary' in voting the 'reform ticket"
- "Any thing for a change"
- "Still hunt'-ing"
- "The barrel campaign is a failure"
- "An 'aggressive' 'still hunt"
- "Between two fires"
- "Willie, we have missed you"
- "The elephant walks around" and "The 'still hunt' is nearly over"
- "Adam's fall"
- "The lion" and "The lamb"
- "The prospect in New York"
- "Go South, young man"
- "Uncle Sam put in his 'bier"
- "News to Tweed"
- "A national game that is played out"
- "Virtue has its own--"
- "No rest for the wicked--sentenced to more hard labor"
Prints of Th. Nast sketches 1877:
- "Cronin 'organized himself"
- "The Honorable David Dudley Field"
- "The statute of limitation"
- "The best of friends must part"
- "The way the thing looks now" (xerox copy)
- "A jewel among swine"
- "Another such victory, and I am undone"--Pyrrhus
- "Civil service reform"
- "H' all that's left"
- "Extra session of Congress soon"
- "Our Army and Navy--as it will be"
- "The Marshall trying it on"
- "Ergo" and "Hon. B.F. Butler has the floor"
- "Les deux Presidents--Elysees" U.S. Grant to M. Mahon...
- "The fallen star"
Prints of Th. Nast sketches 1878:
- "Waking up--1878"
- "The street"
- "About the size of it"
- "The blessings we have we do not make use of"
- "A game of bluff"
- "Always killing the goose that lays the golden egg"
- "Better late than never' and 'It is never too late to mend"
- "America always puts her oar in"
"Hurrah for the shoes"
Prints of Th. Nast sketches 1879:
Prints of Th. Nast sketches 1880:
- "Boom!!! so near, and yet so far"
- "The widow's wants"
- "He will be Gulliver in the hands of the Brobdingnagians"
- "A financial mistake"
- "Resumption--of what?--Con- fusion"
- "A change is necessary'--'Who should withdraw?"
- "A local question"
- "What a pity"
- "The republican pachyderm alive and kicking"
Prints of Th. Nast Sketches Photographs:
- "Willie, we have missed you!"
- "Of course he wants to vote the democratic ticket!"
- "The ignorant vote--honors are easy"
- "The national game that is all played out"
Materials which are boxed separately:
- Nast family photograph album
- Scrapbook (134pp)
- Portraits and Designs by Thomas Nast (19pp)
- Autograph letters and documents relating to testimonials to Thomas Nast April 1869 (Bound, 62pp)
Oversize Folder 1:
- "The Daily Boar" original pencil sketch
- "The last spike of our commercial union" June 1, 1886 (copy)
- "Truth" original watercolor
- "The rioter Seymour" Broadside
- "That 'tidal wave' --'we are on the home stretch" (copy)
- "Is this a republican form of government?" from Harpers Weekly September 2, 1876 (photograph)
- "The off year" Cover of Harpers Weekly, November 17, 1877
- "Les deux Presidents--Elysee" November 17, 1877
- "After all" Harpers Weekly, October 1, 1881
- "A terrible blow north" Harpers Weekly, November 11, 1876
- "The army of the Potomac--Little Mac making his rounds" Harpers Weekly, November 15, 1862
- "The halt" Harpers Weekly, October 1, 1864
- "Chamberlain--'Will you come down and fight, so that I can call in the troops to suppress you?' Hampton--'No!' ... Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (copy)
- "The hero of our age--dead!" [U.S. Grant] Harpers Weekly, Aug. 1, 1885
- "The rebel guerrilla raid in a western town" Harpers Weekly, September 27, 1862
- "The pirates, under false colors.--Can they capture the ship of state? [Harpers Weekly]
- "Don't!" [Harpers Weekly]
- "Capitalist and mechanic; or, Bonds and greenbacks" dtd December 21, 1874
- "Hold the fort!" Dtd New York, September 18, 1876 For the Reunion of Veterans at Indianapolis
Oversize Folder 2:
- "The white qudruped on Uncle Sam's hands" Time, October 19, 1889
- "Trickery in a high position" Time, October 19, 1889
- "Fixing things '--a proper steering apparatus found" Harpers Weekly, March 25, 1876
- "Antiques" Harpers Weekly, May 19, 1877
- "Graphic statue No. 51--Stock" Daily Graphic, October 8, 1875
- "No more outbreaks" Harpers Weekly, January 25, 1879
- "Christmas morning--the crusty old bachelor who is bound to have something in his stocking." Harpers Weekly Original ink sketch
- Christmas drawings by Thomas Nast The Toledo Blade Sunday Magazine, December 9, 1971
- "British interests" Harpers Weekly, July 14, 1877
- "Withdrawal of the federal bayonets from Alaska" Harpers Weekly, April 21, 1877
- "Young American roast beef for old England" Harpers Weekly, April 21, 1877
- "Fire and water make vapor" Harpers Weekly, February 3, 1877
- "The 83 cents gentleman from Indiana--or, the U.S. Senate's infliction." Harpers Weekly, February 8, 1879
- "Interest in the United States debt" Harpers Weekly, February 8, 1879
- "Our modern Ulysses on his travels" Harpers Weekly, February 1, 1879
- "Very social" Harpers Weekly, February 1, 1879
- "America for the red man" Harpers Weekly, February 1, 1879
- "The ass and the charger" Harpers Weekly, January 25, 1879
- "The lone fisherman (from Mass.); or, the bulldozed old man." Dtd January 18, 1879
- "It struck (in blowing over.)--Picking even the poor soldiers' bones to feather their nest. Harpers Weekly, March 25, 1876
- "The color line still exists--in this case" Harpers Weekly, January 8, 1879
- "As harmless as lager" Harpers Weekly, January 18, 1879
- "In for it" Harpers Weekly, March 25, 1876"The Secretary of the Interior investigating the Indian Bureau" Harpers Weekly, January 26, 1878
- "The advanced age" Harpers Weekly, May 19, 1877
- "Thanksgiving on the other side.--No. 1" Harpers Weekly, December 8, 1877
- "Thanksgiving on the other side.--No. 2" Harpers Weekly, December 8, 1877
- "Life, liberty, and property must be protected." Harpers Weekly, December 1, 1877
- "Exhumed" Harpers Weekly, December 1, 1877
- "The newest arrival" Harpers Weekly, January 12, 1878
- "The establishment needs constant advertising" Harpers Weekly, January 12, 1878
- "Patience on a monument" Supplement to the Cincinnati Gazette
- "Functus officio" Harpers Weekly, March 17, 1877
- "The political lottery" Harpers Weekly, November 11,1876
- "Stand from under!" Harpers Weekly, January 26, 1878