TABLE OF CONTENTS
405 Babbidge Road, Unit 1205
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1205
James (Jim) Flora was born 25 January 1914, in Bellefontaine, Ohio, the son of James Bernard (a barber) and Laura (Royer) Flora. He attended Urbana University (1931-1933), the Art Academy of Cincinnati (1934-1939), and Atelier 17 (two years). He co-founded The Little Man Press, a series of letterpress publications, with author Robert Lowry (1919-1994), and provided illustrations and designs for Little Man publications (1939-1942). After graduating from the Art Academy, he began freelancing in Cincinnati. His clients included Procter and Gamble and the Union Central Life Insurance Co.
Flora was hired by the art department of Columbia Records in 1942, and established a reputation for his eccentric and amusing style of caricature, which appeared in Columbia's trade literature and ads. He became the label's art director in 1943, and was later promoted to advertising manager, and then sales promotion manager. He began designing (without credit) album covers for Columbia around 1945. Around 1947 he began a series of idiosyncratically stylized, cartoonish covers (usually signed), which are today considered some of the more dazzling exemplars of the early golden age of album cover design. Some of these works can be viewed here, and dozens were reproduced in a book by Irwin Chusid, entitled The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora (Fantagraphics Books, 2004).
Flora left Columbia Records in 1950 and moved with his family to Mexico. They lived in the town of Taxco, which provided the inspiration and setting for Flora's first published children's book, The Fabulous Firework Family (1955). After returning from Mexico in 1951, Flora lived in Rowayton, Connecticut, and resumed his career as a freelance illustrator. He returned to album cover design in 1953, this time for RCA Victor, on a series of widely acclaimed assignments jobbed out by RCA art director, Robert M. Jones (who had succeeded Flora as Columbia Records' art director in 1945).
The success of The Fabulous Firework Family convinced Flora to devote more time to authoring and illustrating children's books. He eventually wrote and drew 17, both for Harcourt Brace and for Atheneum, between 1955 and 1982. Several of these books were later adapted into animated features, for which Flora wrote the scripts. He was a boating enthusiast, and spent a good deal of his time during the 1980s and 1990s painting works with nautical themes, including large, intricate steamship canvases. James Flora passed away in 1998.
A number of first editions provided by Flora have been separated from the collection and catalogued as part of the Northeast Children's Literature Collection. The remainder of the collection consists of original art and sketches, in some cases providing complete art for the books. Other assorted materials include color separations and two complete book dummies.
The collection is arranged as a single series.
Series I: Books (1955-1994)
Restrictions on Access
There are no access restrictions on this collection.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the University of Connecticut Libraries and the owner(s) of the copyright.
Archives & Special Collections has a substantial collection of children's literature and associated artwork. For detailed information on these collections please contact the curator or ask at the reference desk.
The following materials have been separated from the collection and cataloged:
The Fabulous Firework Family (1955) Dodd Call No. CLC C1915
The Day the Cow Sneezed (1957) Dodd Call No. CLC C1306
Leopold, The See-Through Crumbpicker (1961) Dodd Call No. CLC C1914
My Friend Charlie (1964) Dodd Call No. CLC C1913
Little Hatchy Hen (1969) Dodd Call No. CLC C1305
The Fabulous Firework Family (1994) Dodd Call No. CLC C1916
Video adaptation of Leopold, The See-Through Crumbpicker (1993) added to Dodd Video Collection, call number PN 1997.5.L46.
This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Children's literature, American 20th century—Illustrations.
Children's literature—Connecticut authors.
Children's literature—Connecticut illustrators.
Illustrated children's books—Connecticut.
[Item description, #:#], James Flora Papers. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
Donated to Archives & Special Collections by the family of James Flora.
Biographical material taken from “Something About the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 6, James Flora” (printer's proof included with collection).
Writings by the Author
Self-illustrated children's books, except as indicated; published by Harcourt, except as indicated:
The Fabulous Fireworks Family, (also see below),1955.
The Day the Cow Sneezed,1957.
Charlie Yup and His Snip-Snap Boys, 1959.
(Illustrator)The Talking Dog and the Barking Man, 1960F. Watts,,
Leopold, the See-through Crumbpicker, (also see below), 1961.
Kangaroo for Christmas, 1962.
My Friend Charlie, , 1964.
Grandpa's Farm, 1965.
Sherwood Walks Home, 1966.
Fishing with Dad, 1967.
The Joking Man, 1968.
Little Hatchy Hen, 1969.
Published by Atheneum:
Pishtosh, Bullwash, and Wimple, 1972.
Stewed Goose, 1973.
The Great Green Turkey Creek Monster, 1976.
Grandpa's Ghost Stories, 1978.
Wanda and the Bumbly Wizard, 1980.
(Illustrator) Arthur Steckler. 101 More Words and How They Began, Doubleday, (Garden City, NY), 1980.
Also author of New Orleans Wood Engravings in Portfolio,(adult nonfiction) Little Man Press.
Author of script and designer of animated films, “The Fabulous Fireworks Family” (based on Flora's book of same title), 1959, “Leopold, The See-through Crumbpicker” (based on Flora's book of same title), 1973, and “Weston Woods.”
Source:Contemporary Authors Online, The Gale Group, 1999 and “Something About the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 6, James Flora”.
R. R. BowkerWho's Who in American Art, 20th edition, (New Providence, NJ), 1993.
American Artist, January, 1955.
New York Times Book Review, November 9, 1969.
New York Times, July 18, 1998, p. D16.
Washington Post, July 20, 1998, p. B6.