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Nell Brinkley: Topics in Chronicling America

Nell Brinkley was an illustrator and comic artist known in the 20th century as the "Queen of Comics." This guide provides access to material related to "Nell Brinkley" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"His Flowers." March 21, 1916. Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, Nebraska), Image 11. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Nell Brinkley (1886-1944) was born in Denver, Colorado. In 1903, she dropped out of high school and began working as an artist for the Denver Times earning $7 per week. In 1907, William Randolph Hearst persuaded her to work as an illustrator for his newspaper.

Brinkley's line-drawn illustrations were published throughout newspapers and magazines. Unlike the "Gibson girls" which depicted the ideal feminine beauty in high society debutantes, the "Brinkley girls" depicted feminine curly-haired working women pursuing both careers and romantic relationships.

Behind her illustrations, Brinkley was a feminist. In a series called "Uncle Sam's Schoolgirls," Brinkley's illustrations were accompanied by her criticisms on women's working conditions, inequality in pay, and the housing crisis during World War I. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


1907 Nell Brinkley moves to New York and begins working as an illustrator for the New York Evening Journal.
February 1916 Nell Brinkley's illustrations are featured in the Pensacola Journal.
1918 Nell Brinkley creates the "Uncle Sam's Schoolgirls" series, which highlights various issues for women volunteers during World War I.
September 15, 1918-
February 23, 1919
Nell Brinkley's fifteen-part series, "Golden Eyes and her Hero Bill" is published. This series is about a woman who enters World War I with her dog in order to save her boyfriend.
December 1, 1921 Nell Brinkley publishes a Sunday series called "Betty and Bill - and their love through the ages." This series depicts the reincarnation of lovers throughout various eras, legends, and stories.
June 1924 Nell Brinkley's illustrations are featured on the Hennefoam shampoo brand advertisements.
April 8, 1929 Nell Brinkley predicts the 1930 style of the year for women will be "fifty fifty" -- modern in the day time and old-fashioned in the evenings.
October 21, 1944 Nell Brinkley dies at New Rochelle Hospital after a long illness.