The John and Selma Appel Collection
of Ethnic Images
The John and Selma Appel Collection is one of the nation's largest collections
of printed ephemera depicting ethnic stereotypes in caricature and cartoons.
The late Dr. John Appel, Professor Emeritus of American Thought and Language
at Michigan State University and Adjunct Curator at the Michigan State
University Museum, and his wife, Selma Appel, Research Associate, Michigan
State University Museum, began to collect immigrant and ethnic images
in popular graphics in 1965. The Appels donated the collection, plus their
reference library and documentary materials, to the Michigan State University
Museum in 1994.
The collection consists of 934 cartoons, prints and lithographs, 1034 postcards,
340 trade cards, 41 stereopticon slides, 179 sheet music, 15 comic strips
and two dozen other miscellaneous visual materials, including greeting
cards, valentines, advertisements. The materials in the collection date
primarily from the Civil War to World War I, a period of massive migration
to the United States. To modern Americans, the contents are sometimes
humorous, sometimes very disturbing. Nonetheless, the collection depicts
American values and attitudes of its period and is a remarkable resource
for the study of American cultural history.
For the online gallery of the John and Selma Appel Collection of Ethnic Images, click here:
Dr. John Appel and Selma Appel.
"Pat-Riots to Patriots: American Irish in Caricature and Comic Art," Michigan
State University Museum, 1991; The Strong Museum, Rochester, New York,
October, 1991 - July, 1992; Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany,
New York, July - September, 1992.
"Immigration and Caricature: Ethnic Images from the Appel Collection,"
Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, September, 1996
- February, 1997; The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, March 16 - August 3, 2001; American Immigration Law Foundation,
Washington, D.C., September 4 - November 23, 2001; Dreams of Freedom Museum,
Boston, Massachusetts, June 15 - August 15, 2002.
[Currently available for loan from Michigan State University Museum, see
John Appel and Selma Appel,
Pat-Riots to Patriots: American Irish in Caricature and Comic Art,
East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum, 1991.
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