McCutcheon, John T. (1870-1949) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
John Tinney McCutcheon was born on May 6, 1870 near South Raub in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. His parents were Civil War veteran Captain John Barr McCutcheon (Sheriff of Tippecanoe County) and Clara (Glick) McCutcheon. Young John McCutcheon spent his early childhood in the rural areas surrounding Lafayette, Indiana. He had two brothers, George Barr McCutcheon and Ben F. McCutcheon, and one sister, Jessie McCutcheon (Nelson). His brother George Barr would later earn fame as a novelist.
McCutcheon entered Purdue University and was a founding member of the University's first fraternity, Sigma Chi. He was also a co-editor of the University's first yearbook, the Debris.
After graduating from Purdue with a B.S. degree in 1889, McCutcheon moved to Chicago and was hired to work for the Chicago Morning News (later known as the Chicago Record) as an artist. He began doing front page cartoons for the newspaper in 1895. In 1903, McCutcheon joined the staff of the Chicago Tribune and served in capacities as both an editorial cartoonist and occasional foreign correspondent until his retirement in 1946. As a cartoonist, much of his work appeared on the front pages of the Chicago Tribune, and the subject matter of his cartoons included issues on local, national, and international politics, war, journalism, societal changes, and economic hardships. McCutcheon traveled a great deal during his career, and covered many political events such as presidential campaigns, the Spanish-American War, and World War I. In 1932, McCutcheon was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning for his work titled A Wise Economist Asks a Question. McCutcheon also created illustrations for his friend George Ade, a fellow Hoosier and Purdue graduate; the illustrations appeared in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, as well as books written by Ade. Due to the wide exposure and success of his professional work, McCutcheon is often referred to as the Dean of American Cartoonists.
McCutcheon married Evelyn Shaw on January 20, 1917, and they had four children (John Jr., Shaw, Barr, and Evelyn, who died as a small child). The couple owned a small island in the Bahamas, Salt Cay, which the family referred to as Treasure Island. Following his death in 1949, McCutcheon's widow Evelyn distributed his vast collection of original drawings to various institutions in the Midwest, including Purdue University. Evelyn McCutcheon also contributed to the posthumous publication of John McCutcheon's autobiography, Drawn from Memory.