Thursday, December 27, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Barbara Shermund

Barbara Shermund was born on June 26, 1899, in San Francisco, California. Her birth date is from the Social Security Death Index and the birthplace is based on the 1900 U. S. Federal Census when she was ten months old. Her parents were Henry, a draughtsman, and Freda, a Canadian. They resided in San Francisco at 1602 Steiner Street.

Apparently Shermund’s earliest published work was in the San Francisco Chronicle’s children’s page on May 3, 1908.

In the 1910 census the Shermunds San Francisco address was 1001 H Street. Shermund’s father was an architect.

The San Francisco Call, September 30, 1911, published Shermund’s story, “What Billy Found”. At the time she was in the seventh grade at Crocker Grammar School.

On October 18, 1912 the Chronicle reported the upcoming benefit performance for the Protection of Motherhood at the Valencia Theater. Shermund was in the octet singing group (detail below).

After high school Shermund continued her art training at the California School of Fine Arts. The International Studio, June 1919, reported the Art Students’ League of New York annual scholarship competition, which was open to all art students in the United States, except those in New York City. “Ten scholarships were awarded to students whose work was adjudged to show the greatest promise….The scholarships entitle their holders to free tuition in any two classes conducted by the League during the season of 1919–1920, or in the classes of the League’s Summer school at Woodstock during the coming summer.” Shermund was awarded an honorable mention.

The Oakland Tribune, July 20, 1919, reproduced a portrait by Shermund and said she was a “promising student … [and] a pupil of Lee Randolph’s life class”.

The Tribune, May 23, 1920, covered the California School of Fine Arts graduation program and announced the class prizes. Shermund was awarded first prize in the portrait class whose instructor was E. Spencer Macky. She also received the “Dr. George P. Wintermute prize for the most progress made in portrait class.” In Maynard Dixon’s illustration class Shermund landed a second prize.

Shermund has not yet been found in the 1920 census.

The second edition of Neill Compton Wilson’s A City of Caprice (1921) featured seven etchings by Shermund.

The 1922 and 1923 Crocker-Langley San Francisco City Directories listed Shermund’s studio at 535 Sacramento and her residence at 1001 Lincoln Way. Her father had the same home address.

Around 1925 Shermund visited New York City. The Red Bank Register (New Jersey), April 12, 1961, profiled ten cartoonists including Shermund and said

Barbara Shermund studied painting, sculpture, etching and design at the California School of Fine Arts. She came to New York on a visit, ate up her return trip ticket and stayed.

She stated she had no idea of becoming a cartoonist. Her first efforts were for the New Yorker Magazine for which she did spots, department headings and covers. One day she was told she must write lines under her drawings, and this put her on the road to her present work….
Her covers and cartoons for The New Yorker appeared from 1925 to 1944.

Shermund returned to New York from a trip to Europe on July 29, 1929. The passenger list (at said she departed Havre, France July 20. Her address was 18 Gramercy Park South, New York City.

Shermund has not yet been found in the 1930 census.

Shermund made another trip to Europe in 1931. Again, departing from Havre, January 23, she arrived in New York February 3. Her home address was unchanged.

In the 1930s Shermund was a contributor to Esquire magazine. For Photoplay magazine, Shemund illustrated the series, “Miracle Men at Work to Make You Lovelier” in the second half of 1939: July,
 August, September, October, November and December.

Shermund has not yet been found in the 1940 census. New York City telephone directories listed Shermund at three addresses. In 1942 she was at 55 East 9th Street. 1944 and 1945 directories listed her in Staten Island at 60 Daniel Lower Terrace. Directories from 1948 to 1960 had her address as 115 East 37th Street.

The Wilmington Morning Star (North Carolina), October 24, 1942, published an Associated Press photograph of Shemund, Varga and Howard Baers in Hollywood where they judged the best features of some of MGM’s women. The three artists’ disagreement was mentioned in the Morning Star November 5.

King Features Syndicate distributed Shermund’s Sallies from August 13, 1944 to June 2, 1957. She was listed in Laugh It Off: Cartoons from the Saturday Evening Post (1944).

Who’s Who in American Art (1959) had two addresses for Shermund, “115 East 37th St., New York 16, N.Y.; also, 901 Ocean Ave., Seabright [sic], N.J.” The same New Jersey address was in Who’s Who in Commercial Art and Photography: A Guide to Artists, Photographers, Agents and Studios in the Graphics Field (1964).

The Red Bank Register said Shermund and nine other New Jersey-based cartoonists were in a group show at the Guild of Creative Art, in Shrewsbury, in April 1961. The other cartoonists were Bud Blake, Fair Haven; Ron Wing, Red Bank; Reamer Keller, Bill Wenzel and Bill Crawford, Atlantic Highlands; Clara Gee Kastner and Stan Stamaty, Elberon; Al Kaufman, Oakhurst; and Bil Canfield, New Shrewsbury. Each cartoonist provided a self-caricature to the newspaper.

Barbara Shermund

Shermund passed away in September 9, 1978 according to the Asbury Park Press (New Jersey), September 14, 1978. 
Barbara Shermund, Prominent Cartoonist
Middletown Township—Barbara Shermund, formerly of Sea Bright, died Saturday at the Ivy House Nursing Home, where she had lived for several years.

Miss Shermund had been a cartoonist of national stature, whose work had appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, and the now New York Journal-American.

Surviving is a brother, Henry, Walnut Creek, Calif.

The John Pfleger Funeral Home is charge of arrangements.

Further Reading and Viewing
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
Tell Me a Story Where the Bad Girl Wins: The Life and Art of Barbara Shermund
Women’s History Month: Barbara Shermund, 1899–1978

Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and Their Cartoons (2005)
Barbara Shermund
Ink Spill
Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists (2018) 

—Alex Jay


In 1940, she was supposedly living at 531 E. 84th St. in Manhattan, but she's not listed there in the Census:
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