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Pittsburgh Outsider Journals

Identifier: MSN/MN 8013

Scope and Contents

The text of these idiosyncratic volumes consists mainly of commentary on public persons and events, some contemporaneous, some historical. Occasionally this commentary is couched in straightforward prose; more often, it appears as verse, as mock dialogue, or in the form of stories, jokes, and riddles. How much of this material is original to the books' creator is unclear. Some of it is in Irish dialect. The author's world-view is deeply cynical, and his commentary tends to be acerbic, attacking and mocking a substantial range of targets: England, first and foremost; American political establishments of both parties, from the Pittsburgh wards to the White House (Wilson, Harding, Hoover); military establishments; wealthy capitalists like Rockefeller, Andrew Mellon, and J. P. Morgan; the temperance movement and Prohibition; and many others. Some persons and subjects are treated sympathetically, even reverentially: Ireland and the Free State; figures from the left like Mother Jones, Debs, and Pancho Villa; Native Americans. The textual entries, printed in an extremely fine hand, are often accompanied by drawings. These are mostly portraits, apparently traced or otherwise copied in pencil from newspapers and finished in ink and crayon. The faces of the author's villains are typically colored yellow, to mark them as "yellow dogs" (8013-3-B, 1r). Heroes are colored naturalistically. There are also allegorical figures, caricatures, and images of other kinds, many of them colored and some quite appealing. The books are densely illustrated, with perhaps 750 drawings in the three volumes. The text runs to perhaps 100,000 words. Ellipses in dating suggest that these three volumes were but a part of the author's total output. The books are informed and witty and, at the same time, an exercise in obsession, evident both in their eccentric graphic qualities and in their dark and repetitious social commentary.


  • Creation: 1922-1932


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

The creator of these journals cannot be identified. The volumes themselves contain no hard biographical information. From the content, it is evident that the author was an Irish-American male of leftist sympathies, perhaps born in County Wexford ca. 1880. At the time the journals were written he was apparently living in or around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


3 volumes; (.33 linear ft.)

Language of Materials




Three idiosyncratic manuscript journals of deeply cynical leftist political commentary, written by an unidentified Irish-American resident of Pittsburgh, ca. 1922-1932. The journals treat local, national, and international affairs, contemporaneous and historical: there is much on World War I, Ireland, and American politics generally. The volumes are illustrated with some 750 drawings, many of them portraits.


Volumes are arranged by date.

George Rugg
December 2015
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556