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James Flora Papers

Identifier: 1997-0071

Scope and Content

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.


  • 1955-1994


The collection is open and available for research.

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.


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.


2.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Children's author and illustrator, born in 1914, who lived in Rowayton, Connecticut from 1942 until his death in 1998. Author of 17 children's books, also a freelance illustrator and painter.


The collection is arranged as a single series.

Series I: Books (1955-1994)

Acquisition Information

Donated to Archives & Special Collections by the family of James Flora.

Related Material

Archives & Special Collections has a substantial collection of materials pertaining to children's literature and associated artwork. For detailed information on these collections please contact the curator or ask at the Reading Room desk.

Separated Material

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.


Biographical material taken from “Something About the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 6, James Flora” (printer's proof included with collection).
James Flora Papers
Archives & Special Collections staff
2000 June
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US