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Lee J. Ames Papers

Identifier: DG0022

Scope and Contents

The Lee J. Ames papers contain artwork and preparatory material for 94 established book titles, arranged alphabetically by title. Although included in a later series, the papers contain original and unidentified published illustrations, unidentified published proofs, and illustrations from unpublished books and other works. Also included are award materials, photographs, general correspondence (including fan mail), magazine illustrations, editorial cartoons, comic strips, advertisements, greeting cards, and illustrations created early in Mr. Ames' career.


  • 1946-1991

Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; Available for research

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.

Biographical / Historical

Lee J. Ames, creator of the popular Draw 50 series of how-to-draw books, was born in New York City on January 8, 1921 to Joseph F. Abramowitz and Gertrude Pascal Abramowitz. His elementary school teachers at Public School 12 in Queens, New York, recognized his talents quite early and encouraged him to work with oils and murals. His and his classmates' work adorned the school's main lobby for years. As a young man, Ames attended Columbia University for a time, but entered active service in the United States Army and served from 1942 to 1944. He was discharged as a second lieutenant. In June 1945 Ames married Jocelyn S. Green, an author, and together they had two children: Alison Sally and Jonathan David. Later in his career, Ames sometimes wrote under the psuedonym "Jonathan David." In the immediate post-war years Ames tried his hand at several occupations, all of which involved art or design. During 1947-48 he ran a one-man advertising agency, while moonlighting as an instructor of vocational art.

Ames came to children's illustration somewhat by the backdoor. His jobs always took him into the area of illustration or design, but it was only while teaching at a school for visual arts that an editor contacted him about providing illustrations for Shannon Garst's Three Conquistadors (1948). A few years passed before the publishers contacted him again, this time to illustrate Samuel Adams Hopkins' The Pony Express, one of the first titles in Bennett Cerf's Landmark series. His work on The Pony Express exposed Ames to other prominent illustrators and led to more job opportunities, ultimately over one-hundred and fifty titles running the gamut from biographies and Golden Books to Girl Scout books and textbooks.

From 1956 through 1961 he also served as Doubleday & Company's artist-in- residence and since 1948 has been a tireless illustrator of children's books. During his residence with Doubleday, Ames and Roy Gallant collaborated as an author-illustrator team for five years. In one particularly slow year, the editors encouraged Ames to strike out on his own; the result was Draw, Draw, Draw -- Ames' first solo success. Years later Ames suggested a step-by-step how-to-draw book to Doubleday's editors with plans to cover many subjects, entitled Draw 175 People, Places, Things and More.... Several years passed before this project came to fruition, but finally an editor suggested Ames break the project into managable chunks. Out of this emerged Draw 50 Animals, the first in the enormously popular "Draw 50" series.

Although Ames has continued to publish, he recently told both Something About the Author and the Sixth Book of Junior Authors that he prefers to spend his time with his family: Jocelyn, their two kids and their spouses, and especially his three grandchildren. Although he isn't creating as many books as before, he is keeping up with technology and has a website:


Sixth Book of Junior Authors, pp.11-13.

Something About the Author, volume 3.


33.75 Cubic Feet (76 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials donated by Lee Ames and Jonathan Ames between 1966 and 1997.
Lee J. Ames Papers
In Progress
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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This finding aid is a product of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the de Grummond Childrens Literature Collection Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001