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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Digital Content
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Access

  • Descriptive Summary

    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla 92093-0175
    Title: Dr. Seuss Collection
    Creator: Seuss, Dr.
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0230
    Physical Description: 197.7 Linear feet (25 archives boxes, 7 records cartons, 4 card file boxes, 2 phonograph disc boxes, 559 mapcase folders, 75 flat box folders and 35 art bin items)
    Date (inclusive): 1919 - 2003
    Abstract: Manuscripts and drawings of Theodor S. Geisel, author and illustrator known internationally as Dr. Seuss. The collection (1919-1992) includes early drawings, manuscripts and drawings for the majority of his children's books, scripts and storyboards for Dr. Seuss films, television specials and theatre productions, advertising artwork, magazine stories, speeches, awards, memorabilia, fan mail, Dr. Seuss products and photographs. Also included are videorecordings and cassette audiorecordings of UCSD events held to commemorate Geisel's life and work. The collection is arranged in twelve series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL, 2) BOOKS, 3) SCRIPTS, SCREENPLAYS AND ADAPTATIONS, 4) ADVERTISING ARTWORK, 5) MAGAZINE STORIES AND CARTOONS, 6) WRITINGS, SPEECHES AND TEACHING PROGRAMS, 7) AWARDS AND MEMORABILIA, 8) FAN MAIL, 9) SEUSS PRODUCTS, 10) BOOK PROMOTION MATERIALS, 11) PHOTOGRAPHS, and 12) UCSD EVENTS.
    Languages: English .

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Dr. Seuss Collection documents the artistic and literary career of Theodor Seuss Geisel, popularly know as Dr. Seuss, from 1919 to 1992. Included are early drawings and writings; manuscripts, drawings and finished artwork for the majority of his children's books; manuscripts, drawings and storyboards for film, television and theatrical presentations; advertising artwork; manuscripts and drawings for magazine stories and cartoons; awards and memorabilia; fan mail; Seuss products; book promotion materials, and photographs. Notably absent from the collection is correspondence from Geisel and manuscripts and drawings related to his books And To Think That I saw It on Mulberry Street, The Lorax, and Daisy-Head Mayzie.
    The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL series contains the earliest known original drawings by Ted Geisel and also documents his military service during World War II. It is arranged in three subseries: A) Early Drawings and Artwork, B) High School and College Materials, and C) US Army Materials.
    The Early Drawings and Artwork subseries contains the earliest examples of Geisel's drawings, including four titled ink drawings on paper (1926-1927) done while he was travelling in Europe after leaving Oxford University. Of interest are photographs of murals he designed for a children's playroom. The drawings are arranged chronologically.
    The High School and College Materials subseries includes Geisel's wonderful Oxford University notebook (1925-1926), which contains lecture notes, abundant margin drawings, doodles and humorous jottings. Geisel's high school activities are documented by the program for a high school comedy he wrote and performed in called "Chicopee Surprised."
    The US Army Materials document Geisel's service in the Army during World War II. Commissioned as a captain on December 31, 1942, Geisel was assigned to the Special Service Division in Hollywood where he helped produce films and pamphlets. The administrative files reflects his activities and projects and contains orders, vouchers for per diem reimbursement, memoranda and other miscellaneous documents. Memorabilia and documents from Geisel's trip to the European Theatre of Operations in late 1944 and early 1945 are also included in the subseries. Of particular interest is a collection of pencil-on-paper cartoons which take a humorous view of army life. Finally, the subseries contains the small instructional pamphlet on malaria entitled This Is Ann, which Geisel illustrated for the War Department. Materials in this subseries are arranged chronologically.
    The Miscellany subseries contains a videorecording of Geisel's appearance on the television program To Tell The Truth in 1958.
    The BOOKS series contains the manuscripts, typescripts, rough sketches and finished drawings for the majority of books Geisel published under the pseudonyms Dr. Seuss, Theo. LeSieg, and Rosetta Stone. Notably absent from the collection are significant materials related to the books And To Think That I saw It on Mulberry Street, The Lorax, and Daisy-Head Mayzie. The series is arranged in four subseries: A) Drafts and Drawings, B) Book Dummies, C) Cut-Up Books and D) Unpublished Editorial Collaborations.
    In the Drafts and Drawings subseries are located manuscripts, typescripts, color rough sketches, original finished drawings, hand-penciled color specification instructions and miscellaneous proofs from the printer for the majority of Geisel's published books. Also included are rough sketches for several unpublished projects such as "The Sad, Sad Story of the Obsks." The materials are arranged alphabetically by title. Within each title the materials are organized according to stages of production, from rough to finished.
    Extant materials for individual titles vary. For early books, such as The Seven Lady Godivas and The King's Stilts, the extant drawings are finished pencil and gouache on board. Later books are typically represented by successive manuscript drafts of text, colored rough sketches and finished ink on board drawings which are subsequently photographed to produce prints which Geisel hand colored and numbered for the printer. For McElligot's Pool, Happy Birthday To You!, and I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today!, Geisel painted finished illustrations in gouache.
    The Book Dummies subseries contains blank book samples that show cover cloth, paper weight, book size, board thickness and other binding variables.
    In the Cut-Up Books subseries are published books from which Geisel clipped artwork and characters to use as color chart specifications. The books are arranged alphabetically by title.
    The SCRIPTS, SCREENPLAYS AND ADAPTATIONS series contains original works for film, original works for television and adaptations of Dr. Seuss books from print medium to television or the stage. The series is arranged by format in five subseries: A) Films, B) Sound Recording Scripts, C) Television Scripts and Storyboards, D) Theater Productions and E) Interactive Media.
    The major work in the Films subseries is The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, a musical released by Columbia in 1953. Included are numerous successive drafts of the screenplay, sketches and music scores. Scripts for Geisel's postwar films, Your Job in Germany (later released by Warner Brothers as Hitler Lives), Design For Death and Gerald McBoing-Boing are represented. The actual film versions of titles in this subseries are not included in the collection. The Films subseries is arranged alphabetically by title.
    The Sound Recording Scripts subseries contains scripts for adaptations of books to phonograph discs. The actual discs are listed in the Seuss Products series. Materials are arranged alphabetically by title.
    The Television Scripts and Storyboards subseries includes manuscripts, storyboard drawings, sketches, and song lyrics for Dr. Seuss television specials. Although extant materials vary for individual titles, the "Hoober-Bloob Highway," "Halloween is Grinch Night," "Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You?" and "The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat" are particularly well documented. Drawings from the unfinished adaptation of Geisel's book Oh, The Places You'll Go! are also contained in this subseries. The following television specials are represented in the Dr. Seuss Collection:
    "Butter Battle Book" (TNT, 11/13/89)
    "The Cat in the Hat" (CBS, 03/10/71)
    "Dr. Seuss On the Loose" (CBS, 10/15/73)
    "The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat" (ABC, 05/20/82)
    "Halloween Is Grinch Night" (ABC, 10/28/77)
    "Hoober-Bloob Highway" (CBS, 02/19/75)
    "Horton Hears a Who" (CBS, 03/19/70)
    "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (CBS, 12/18/66)
    "The Lorax"
    "Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You?" (ABC, 03/02/80)
    Broadcast versions in film format for several television specials are listed in the Seuss Products series. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by title.
    The Theatre Productions subseries contains the only Dr. Seuss book adapted to the theatre, the 1980 Children's Theatre of Minneapolis production of "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins." Also included in the subseries are four designs for scenes in an untitled musical that was never produced.
    Finally, the Interactive Media subseries contains production materials for CD ROM adaptations of Geisel's books.
    The ADVERTISING ARTWORK series documents Geisel's career as an advertising artist and cartoonist. His major clients included Standard Oil of New Jersey, Flit pesticide and the National Broadcasting Company. His remarkable and imaginative campaign for Standard Oil promoted Esso Motor Oil with the monsters Karbo-nockus, Moto-raspus, Zerodoccus, Moto-munchus and Oilio-gobelus. Other clients included Holly Sugar, Brevo Shaving Cream, Narragansett Lager and Ale and Hankey Bannister Scotch Whiskey. Geisel also produced a poster and cartoons for the War Department for use in their War Savings Campaign in 1943. The series is arranged alphabetically by name of company.
    The MAGAZINE STORIES AND CARTOONS series contains manuscripts, drawings and published clippings for articles and stories by Geisel. Arranged alphabetically by the name of the publication, the series includes his earliest contributions to the Dartmouth humor magazine Jack O'Lantern and his high school publication the Recorder. Particularly important in this series is the collection of original ink-on-board political cartoons (1941-1943) for PM Newspaper. Also included are Geisel's numerous contributions to Redbook. Finally, the series concludes with the adaptation of the text of his book Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now? applied to Richard M. Nixon and published in Art Buchwald's column.
    The WRITINGS, SPEECHES AND TEACHING PROGRAMS series is arranged in four subseries: A) Writings, B) Speeches, C) Workshops and D) La Jolla Museum.
    In the Writings subseries are located the manuscript forward to the book Neil Morgan's San Diego and several songs and short stories. The Speeches subseries contains copies of Geisel's speeches, including the graduation speech he gave at Revelle College, University of California, San Diego in 1978. The Workshops subseries documents a class Geisel taught at the University of Utah in 1947, in which he developed the workshop around a story called "Mrs. Mulvaney and the Billion Dollar Bunny." The La Jolla Museum subseries contains manuscripts, typescripts and drawings for the planning of a proposed Dr. Seuss Museum at the La Jolla Art Museum. Although the project never materialized, the ideas detailed in the subseries reveal Geisel's recipe of interaction and imagination for simultaneously entertaining and educating children.
    The AWARDS AND MEMORABILIA series is organized in two subseries: A) Awards and B) Memorabilia.
    The Awards subseries contains numerous awards and honorary degrees bestowed on Geisel throughout his life for his literary, artistic and educational contributions to society. The materials are arranged chronologically.
    In the Memorabilia subseries are an odd assortment of items that Geisel kept in his studio, including an unauthorized tee shirt, a flag and a plaster cast of his hands. Several items relate to Dartmouth Class of 1925 reunion memorabilia.
    Geisel received large amounts of fan mail each year. The FAN MAIL series contains letters, posters, scrapbooks, photographs and artworks sent to him, including photocopies of the "thank you" notes he sent them. The series is arranged in five subseries: A) Ted Geisel Birthdays, B) Famous People Fan Mail, C) General Fan Mail, D) Scrapbooks and E) Letters of Condolence.
    Geisel received the largest amount of mail each year on his birthday. The Ted Geisel Birthdays subseries begins with his 50th birthday and ends in 1991. The second subseries, Famous People Fan Mail, contains letters from notable individuals such as Ronald Reagan, Barbara Bush, Art Buchwald and Patrick Moynihan. In the General Fan Mail subseries are letters and photographs sent to Geisel for no other reason than to thank or praise him. The Scrapbooks subseries contains art projects created by school children. Finally, the Letters of Condolence subseries comprises letters sent to "Mrs. Seuss" after Geisel's death in 1991.
    Materials in the SEUSS PRODUCTS series are related to the commercialization and promotion for sale of Dr. Seuss products, as distinct from the use of Dr. Seuss characters in advertising. The Series is arranged in nine subseries: A) By Company, B) Posters, C) Puzzles, D) Filmstrips, E) Videos, F) Films, G) Phonograph Discs, H) Audio Cassette Tapes and I) Reel-to-Reel Audio Tape.
    Absent from the collection are any of Geisel's sculptures.
    The BOOK PROMOTIONS series contains assorted types of materials related to the marketing of Seuss books and is organized in three subseries: A) Advertisements, B) Autograph Tours and C) Book Promotion Products.
    In the Advertisements subseries are materials from Grolier, Houghton Mifflin Company and Random House. The Autograph Tours subseries contains newspaper clippings and photographs from promotional tours. The Book Promotion Products subseries contains realia used in promotional campaigns.
    The PHOTOGRAPHS series comprises a variety of images of Geisel, including a class photograph of Geisel at Oxford University, photographs from his Army service and images of Geisel with sculptures of his characters. There are also numerous photographs of Geisel at work in his studio.
    The UCSD EVENTS series contains videorecordings and cassette audiorecordings documenting events held at UCSD commemorating the life and work of Theodor S. Geisel.
    SERIES 13: ILLUSTRATIONS AND ARTWORK Additions to the collection in 2022. Artworks are not sorted by type, but arranged roughly according to their original inventory number, and in some cases, by size. Titles are provided for titled works.


    Theodor Seuss Geisel, beloved author and illustrator of children's books known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts to Theodor Robert and Henrietta (Seuss) Geisel. His father, the son of German immigrant parents, managed the family brewery and later supervised (1931-1960) Springfield's public park system. Ted Geisel grew up in the midst of a German American community coping with growing anti-German war sentiment, attended Springfield's Central High School as an average student and entered Dartmouth College in the fall of 1921, where he studied English and edited (1924-1925) the college's humor magazine, Jack O'Lantern. After graduating from Dartmouth, he attended Lincoln College at Oxford University to study English literature, but soon abandoned the effort in favor of pursuing a career in illustration. While at Oxford, Geisel courted his future wife, Helen Marion Palmer.
    Geisel returned to Springfield in 1926 and began a career as a freelance illustrator by sending humorous pieces and cartoons to newspapers and magazines. With the encouraging sale of a cartoon for twenty-five dollars to the Saturday Evening Post, Geisel moved to New York and soon landed a job as a writer and artist for the humor magazine Judge. On November 29, 1927, he married Helen Palmer and a year later they made their first visit to La Jolla, California. In 1928, Geisel began what developed into a seventeen year advertising campaign for "Flit" insecticide, a product of Standard Oil of New Jersey. The "Flit" account provided financial security and time for the Geisels to travel abroad. Other advertising accounts included Essolube motor oil and Essomarine products (both for Standard Oil of New Jersey), the Ford Motor Company, the National Broadcasting Company, Holly Sugar, and Narragansett Lager and Ale.
    In 1931, Ted Geisel illustrated his first book, entitled Boners, a collection of children's sayings, which generated enough interest to warrant a second volume, More Boners. But the beginning of Geisel's career as the author and illustrator of children's books came with the publication of And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), a work that combined rhyme and illustration. Geisel published four more books before the outbreak of the Second World War, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938), The Seven Lady Godivas (1939), The King's Stilts (1939) and Horton Hatches The Egg (1940). Although his first two books were published by Vanguard Press, Geisel soon switched to Random House as a result of the efforts of Bennett Cerf, editor and chief executive officer.
    Between 1941 and 1943, Geisel regularly contributed incisive, humorous cartoons critical of American isolationist foreign policy to the daily, PM Newspaper. On December 31, 1942, he was commissioned as a captain in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, Information and Education Division and was assigned to the Special Services Division in Hollywood. Rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel, Geisel's projects included illustrations for educational publications and a film entitled Your Job In Germany. He received the Legion of Merit award, and after the war, moved to a house in La Jolla, California, dubbed "The Tower."
    Geisel resumed his career in children's books with the publication of McElligot's Pool (1947) and went on to publish another forty books under the pseudonym of Dr. Seuss, thirteen as Theo. LeSieg, and one as Rosetta Stone. In 1957, he published his most famous book, The Cat In The Hat, which was, in part, a reaction to John Hersey's complaint in a 1954 Life Magazine article that the primers used to teach reading were dull and repititious. The Cat In The Hat served as a prototype for Beginner Books, a publishing division of Random House headed by Geisel (1957-1991) that promoted children's literacy through the associative richness of works and images.
    Three films for which Geisel wrote the original stories have won Academy Awards: Hitler Lives (1946); Design For Death (1947); and the animation short, Gerald McBoing-Boing (1951). Ted Geisel also wrote a musical entitled The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. Six Dr. Seuss books have been adapted into television specials, and Geisel wrote an additional four original works for television. In 1984, Geisel was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his "special contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of America's children and their parents."
    Helen Geisel died on October 23, 1967. Ted Geisel later married Audrey Stone Diamond and continued to live and work at "The Tower" in La Jolla until his death in 1991.

    Digital Content

    Selected materials from this collection have been digitized and can be viewed through links in the container list.

    Preferred Citation

    Dr. Seuss Collection, MSS 230. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available


    Restricted Collection. Use requires research purpose and permission of the Mandeville Special Collections Library department head.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Graphite drawings -- 20th century
    Photographic prints -- 20th century
    Film adaptations
    Commercial art -- United States
    Cartoons -- United States -- 20th century
    Children's literature, American
    Seuss, Dr. -- Archives