Wednesday, August 14, 2013


News of Yore: Oz Black, Nebraskana Profile

Biographical Sketches of Nebraska Men and Women of Achievement
Who Have Been Awarded Life Membership in the Nebraskana Society 

Sara Mullin Baldwin and Robert Morton Baldwin, Editors 
Baldwin Company, 1932 

(Transcribed for the NEGenWeb Project by Ted & Carole Miller)

Oswald Ragan Black

Oswald R. Black, known throughout Nebraska as “Oz” Black, popular newspaper cartoonist and art director, has lived in this state for the past 25 years. He was born at Neoga, Illinois, October 29, 1898, the son of Eben Ringo and Julia Cynthia (Ragan) Black. His father, whose ancestry is English and Dutch, was born near Dallas, Texas, May 22, 1860. His mother, a music teacher and an active church worker, was born of Scotch-Irish parents at New Winchester, Indiana, April 29, 1867.

Mr. Black attended the public schools of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and was graduated from the high school at Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska, in 1917. He was a student at the University of Nebraska from 1918 to 1923, where he was sports editor of the Daily Nebraskan, and was art editor of Awgwan. He was a member of Sigma Delta Chi, journalistic fraternity.

He served as newspaper reporter and cartoonist of the Lincoln Star where he conducted the widely known feature, Here in Lincoln, 1919-1927; and was commercial artist in Lincoln from 1928 to 1930. Since 1930 he has been cartoonist and art director on the Nebraska State Journal, drawing a full page Sunday cartoon feature under the title, Here In Lincoln.

His marriage to Alona Carpenter was solemnized at Chicago, March 17, 1923. Mrs. Black, who was born at Knoxville, Iowa, November 14, 1899, is a primary teacher and a writer for children's magazines. They have two children: Virginia Hains, born June 24, 1924; and Judith Louise, born April 11, 1930.

During the World War Mr. Black was a private in the Student’s Army Training Corps at the University of Nebraska. He is a member of the American Legion; the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce; and the Lions Club. He is a director of the People’s City Mission at Lincoln; was a director of the Lincoln Advertising Club, 1927; and is a member of the Nebraskana Society and an elder of Westminster Church. Since 1929, he has been sponsor of the Lincoln Hi Y Club, and is a member of the Boy’s Work committee of the Young Men’s Christian Association. Politically, Mr. Black is an independent. Residence: Lincoln.


[In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Black was the youngest of three children born to Eben and Julia. His father was a ticket broker. They lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming at 422 East 19th Street.

The 1910 census recorded Black, now the third of six children, in Lincoln, Nebraska on South 26 Street. His father was an accountant. On September 12, 1918, Black signed his World War I draft card. His occupation was “card writer, Miller & Paine, 13 and O Sts, Lincoln, Neb.”, and described as medium height and build, with brown eyes and dark hair.

The Nebraska State Historical Society said Black studied at the University of Nebraska School of Fine Arts.

Black was a cartoonist for a daily paper in the 1920 census. He lived at home with his parents and siblings.

1922 issues of Wayside Tales included a Federal School of Illustrating and Cartooning advertisement that mentioned Black:

Do You Like to Draw?
One of the objects in printing this letter is to show you what can be accomplished during your spare time.

Oz Black is cartoonist for the Lincoln Star. He studied cartooning, under W.L. Evans, when he was going to school and college. He only worked at his lessons during his spare moments. Sometimes it was four or five months between lessons. If you like to draw don’t waste your time by drawing merely “funny pictures.” You can have just as much fun learning how to draw real cartoons. Some of the cleverest cartoonists are former pupils. This school is recommended by cartoonists because they know the students are taught in the right way.

Prairie University: A History of the University of Nebraska (1995) reprinted two of Black’s cartoons.

The 1930 census recorded Black, his wife and daughter in Lincoln, Nebraska at 1845 South 27th Street. He was a commercial artist with his own studio.

Lincoln remained Black’s home town but at a different address, 2101 Lake Street, as recorded in the 1940 census. He was a newspaper cartoonist who had two years of college.

An issue of Themis of Zeta Tau Alpha reported Black’s new job: “ ‘Oz’ Black, well known cartoonist for the Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star, has accepted a position on the editorial staff of the Minneapolis Star-Journal, where he will be cartoonist, illustrator and feature writer.” 

Black’s participation at a lodge event was reported in the May 1995 issue of Sons of Norway:

Oslo 2 Has Indoor Picnic
Planned especially to interest the children, Oslo 2, Minneapolis, held an indoor picnic at Norway Hall Sunday, March 27, which drew a large number of children. Entertainment features included games and contests with prizes, a chalk-talk by Oz Black, Minneapolis cartoonist, a puppet show and Walt Disney films in color. A picnic lunch followed the program. The lodge plans to make these affairs an annual event.

The Nebraska State Historical Society said Black was cartoonist “…for the Minneapolis Tribune from 1940 [to] 1952. From 1952 [to] 1957, he free-lanced in Minneapolis and then moved to Denver. While in Denver, Black served as the Director of Public Relations for the Denver Area Council of Churches and Instructor in Cartooning and Caricature at the University of Colorado Institute of Adult Learning in Denver.” A detailed look at his May 6, 1934, Here in Lincoln cartoon is here.

Black passed away December 28, 1977, in Los Angeles, California, according to the California Death Index at The Social Security Death Index said his last residence was Denver, Colorado.]


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