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Rose O'Neill, The Kewpie Lady: Topics in Chronicling America

A guide for researching the topic of illustrator "Rose O'Neill" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"KEWPIE DOLL, LATEST 'SENDING,' MAKES THE WORLD SHAKE WITH LAUGHTER," November 30, 1915. The Washington Times (Washington, DC), Sunday Evening EDITION, Page 10. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Rose O'Neill is an iconoclast in every sense of the word. A self-taught bohemian artist, who ascends through a male-dominated field, becoming a top illustrator and the first to build a merchandising empire from her work with her invention of the Kewpie doll. 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.


1896 Publishes "The Old Subscriber Calls," in Truth magazine, the first comic strip by a woman. Marries Virginia aristocrat Gray Latham.
1897 Becomes the only woman on staff at the leading humor magazine Puck.
1901 Divorces Gray Latham.
1902 Stops signing her work as a man "O’Neill Latham." Marries Harry Leon Wilson, a writer and editor at Puck.
1904 Publishes her first semi-autobiographical novel The Loves of Edwy.
1908 Jell-O becomes her client.
1909 First Kewpie comic strip debuts in Ladies Home Journal.
1910 Publishes her first children’s book The Kewpies and Dotty Darling.
1912 Exhibits artwork at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Paper dolls called "Kewpie Kutouts" begin selling.
1913 Obtains patent for the Kewpie doll.
1914 Tells the Press how Kewpies came to her in a dream. Is one the highest paid female illustrators in New York.
1921 Holds solo exhibit at the Galerie Devambez in Paris.
1922 Exhibits "Monster" series at the Wildenstein Gallery in New York.
1922 - 1941 Relocates to her villa "Castle Carabas" in Connecticut, which becomes a sought after artist salon.
1941 Retreats to a family home in the Ozarks to write memoirs.
1944 O'Neill dies.