Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ball State University Libraries Exhibits the Cartoons of Robert Cunningham

A new Ball State Archives and Special Collections exhibit features the original drawings and cartoons of former Muncie mayor, businessman, and cartoonist Robert G. Cunningham. Drawing on Muncie: The Cartoons and the Civic and Cultural Contributions of Robert Cunningham runs from April 6, 2015 to May 30, 2015 on the second floor of Bracken Library.

In 2005, the obituaries, memorials and remembrances of Robert G. Cunningham reflected the extraordinary life of an influential and respected Muncie citizen.  Cunningham has been described as a kind and generous man who always remained grounded in his values.  Each facet of his life displayed these remarkable qualities. 

In 1949, Cunningham opened the Red Front Grocery.  The store remained open until he purchased Cunningham’s Market in 1969. Cunningham was known to help community members who experienced financial difficulty.   Cunningham closed his grocery business in 1976 upon becoming Mayor.  He is remembered as being a “man of the people.”  Cunningham’s cartooning hobby was often juxtaposed with his professional career.  For instance, many of his grocery advertisements and political campaigns incorporated his drawings.  During his later years, he authored and illustrated a series of books, Growing Up in Middletown, U.S.A.: A Book About Those Wonderful Nostalgic Time of Days Gone By, and also made regular cartoon contributions to the Muncie Evening Press in a guest column titled “Cunningham’s Corner.” 

The Robert Cunningham papers consist of records documenting the personal and professional life of Robert Cunningham including records from the City of Muncie Office of the Mayor created during Cunningham's tenure as mayor, political campaign materials, local newspaper clippings, scrapbooks from Cunningham's political and personal life, original and printed cartoons drawn by Cunningham, and local history publications and photographs that were collected by Cunningham. Some of the materials in the collection were collected by Cunningham's family after his death. 

For more information about this collection, contact Ball State University Archives and Special Collections at or (765) 285-5078.

  Original drawing by Robert Cunningham of his locally owned store, Red Front Grocery

Robert Cunningham (seated) with Congressman Phil Sharp (in the black suit), circa 1976-1979

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