Skip to main content

Leonard Everett Fisher papers

Identifier: Ax 538

Scope and Contents note

The Leonard Everett Fisher Papers are organized into nine series.

Series I, Correspondence, has been further subdivided into many sub-series. Sub-series A is Publishers, B is Galleries, C is Libraries, D is Schools, E is correspondence regarding Fisher's own education, F is letters from Fisher's time at the Whitney School of Art, G is Organizations, H is Individuals, I is Family, J is Fan Mail, and K is Book Fairs. With the exception of letters to Fisher's family, the correspondence has not been divided into incoming and outgoing correspondence because the collection is primarily incoming letters. The letters to Fisher's family are the main exception. Most of these letters are from Fisher during the World War II to his family and the folders have been designated accordingly. The Correspondence fills six boxes.

Series II consists of manuscripts written by Leonard Fisher, including A Head Full of Hats and the Colonial American Series.

Series III is speeches presented and written by Fisher. These speeches are arranged chronologically. The second and third series share one box.

Series IV consists of production notes from the various works that Leonard Fisher has collaborated upon with other authors. Within these folders are notes from the authors regarding illustrations, notes from the publishers, schematics for illustrations, various mock-ups, and paste-ups. This series is arranged alphabetically by the last name of the author whose work is represented.

Series V includes illustrations made by Fisher. These illustrations are organized by the last name of the author of the work being illustrated.

Series VI comprises photographs.

Series VII comprises audio recordings, and Series VIII is miscellaneous materials.

Series IX, Oversized Illustrations is the final series. Because of the varying sizes of the artwork within the boxes and folders, it is impossible to organize the illustrations alphabetically within this series. The illustrations are organized alphabetically by author, within each box.


  • 1936-1969


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Born in the Bronx in 1924, Leonard Everett Fisher grew up in Brooklyn, NY during the Great Depression. Fisher's earliest artistic training came from his father, an amateur watercolorist, and a marine engineer by profession. When he was two years old Leonard Fisher sought to "finish" one of his father's paintings with a bottle of India ink, rendering it an unusable mess. Instead of punishing the boy, Fisher's parents rewarded his artistic ambitions by converting a hall closet into a studio for him. As he matured, Fisher went on to study at the Heckscher Foundation in 1932, with Moses Soyer in 1939, and the New York Art Students League in 1941. He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn at the age of 16 in 1941. Before enlisting in the Army in 1942, Leonard Fisher spent nearly two years at Brooklyn College studying art and geology.

During World War II, Fisher served in the 30th Topographic Engineers. Fisher served as a topographer/photogrammetist assigned to a top-secret operations group. Based in Algeria, Fisher drew battle maps for the campaign in Italy, strikes against Romanian oilfields, and the landings in Normandy and Southern France. As the focus of the war shifted, Fisher was relocated to the Pacific theatre where his maps helped with planning of the Iwo Jima and Okinawa invasions, as well as the aborted invasion of Japan.

When he returned from the war, Leonard Fisher entered Yale University where he earned both his bachelor of fine art and master fine art. While at Yale he received the Joseph Pulitzer scholarship in art in 1950 and the prestigious Winchester traveling fellowship, which allowed him to study art as he traveled through Italy. After his graduation from Yale, Fisher became the dean of the Whitney Art School in New Haven, Connecticut at the age of twenty-seven. In 1952 Leonard Fisher had his first solo New York exhibition. Though the paintings did not sell well, critics celebrated the showing. His confidence boosted by the show at the Hewitt gallery, Fisher proposed to Margery Meskin, whom he married later that year.

Leonard Fisher left his position at the Whitney Art School in 1953 and became an illustrator for children's books. The first book he worked on was The Exploits of Xenophon, written by Geoffrey Household. Though this first book, as well as many others, focused on ancient history, Fisher's own passion was the history of the United States during the colonial and early republic periods. Fisher wrote and illustrated a series on Colonial Americans, exploring different trades and occupations in wonderful detail, including such diverse occupations as wig making, glassblowing, cabinetmaking and homemaking. Fisher said of his work "I want my books to be avenues of knowledge, grace, and civility literarily conceived and artistically expressed."

Fisher's dynamic scratchboard technique helps bring his works alive. Fisher has written, and self-illustrated more than eighty children's books. Additionally he has illustrated at least 260 books for other authors. These works have been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages. Fisher's work has been recognized and rewarded by various groups. His work has been nominated and has won countless awards including the Christopher Medal for illustration, the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, and the New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Books Award. In 1991 he was recognized by the University of Minnesota for "singular attainments in the creation of children's literature."

Leonard Fisher's activities were not limited to children's literature. Fisher served as a faculty member at Paier College of Art, Hamden Connecticut from 1966-1978 and as an academic dean from 1978-1982. Fisher worked as an adjunct and visiting professor at Case Western Reserve University and Fairfield University. In addition to his academic work he designed postage stamps for the United States Postal Service for five years and did design work for the Postal Agent of the Scottish Islands of Staffa and Bernera.

As a resident of Westport, Connecticut for many years, Leonard Fisher has been greatly involved in his community. Fisher has served as a trustee for the Westport Historical Society, as a member of the Westport Council of Continuing Education, and as a founding member, director, president, and board chairman of the Westport-Weston Arts Council. He served as on the Westport Library Board of Trustees, and as both vice-president and president of the organization. Leonard Fisher has traveled widely, both for his work and for pleasure. He has been a lecturer at art institutions, academic seminars, educational workshops, and children's book programs throughout the nation.

Leonard Fisher's works have been exhibited in various galleries and exhibitions throughout the country. The exhibitions range in diversity from a display inside the Washington Monument to works in General Electric Corporation's World Headquarters to exhibitions at Rockefeller Center and the Whitney Museum in New York. The range and amount of Leonard Fisher's work has landed it in many different archives throughout the United States. The University of Oregon has large collection of Mr. Fisher's papers and his artwork, but his manuscripts, illustrations, and other papers are also housed at the Leonard Everett Fisher Archive, University of Connecticut, Storrs, the Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, the de Grummond Collection, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, and the Postal History Collection, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.


21 linear feet (58 containers) : 55 manuscript boxes, 3 half manuscript boxes

Language of Materials



Leonard Fisher (1924- ) was an author, painter, designer, and illustrator of children's books. He was particularly well known for his development of the scratchboard technique. The collection consists of original illustrations, literary manuscripts, correspondence, production materials, photographs, and audiotapes.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: Series I. Correspondence; Series II. Manuscripts of Articles and Books; Series III. Speeches; Series IV. Production Notes; Series V. Illustrations; Series VI. Photographs; Series VII. Audio Recordings; Series VIII. Miscellaneous Material; Series IX. Oversize.

Custodial History note

Collection was a gift of Leonard Fisher in 1969.

Related Archival Materials note

The University of Oregon has large collection of Mr. Fisher's papers and his artwork, but his manuscripts, illustrations, and other papers are also housed at the Leonard Everett Fisher Archive, University of Connecticut, Storrs, the Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, the de Grummond Collection, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, and the Postal History Collection, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Leonard Everett Fisher Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Aika-Maria Kihunrwa, Judith Osborn and Christopher Wolf
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA