Richard Erdoes

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Richard Erdoes
Born(1912-07-07)July 7, 1912
Frankfurt, Germany
DiedJuly 16, 2008(2008-07-16) (aged 96)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
OccupationArtist, writer, photographer, editor, illustrator

Richard Erdoes (Hungarian Erdős, German Erdös) was born in Frankfurt,[1] 7 July 1912, and died in Santa Fe, 16 July 2008. He was an artist, photographer, illustrator and author. He described himself as "equal parts Austrian, Hungarian and German, as well as equal parts Catholic, Protestant and Jew..."[2]

Early life[edit]

Erdoes was born in Frankfurt, Germany, to Maria Josefa Schrom on July 7, 1912. His father, Richárd Erdős Sr., was a Jewish Hungarian opera singer who had died a few weeks earlier in Budapest on 9 June 1912.[3] After his birth, his mother lived with her sister, the Viennese actress Leopoldine ("Poldi") Sangora,[4] and Erdoes grew up traveling with them from one engagement to another in Germany and Austria.


He was a student at the Berlin Academy of Art in 1933, when Adolf Hitler came to power. He was involved in a small underground paper where he published anti-Hitler political cartoons which attracted the attention of the Nazi regime. He fled Germany with a price on his head. Back in Vienna, he continued his training at the Kunstgewerbeschule, now the University of Applied Arts, Vienna.[5] He also wrote and illustrated children's books and worked as a caricaturist for Tag and Stunde, anti-Nazi newspapers. After the Anschluss of Austria in 1938 he fled again, first to Paris, where he studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, and then London, England before journeying to the United States. He married his first wife, fellow artist Elsie Schulhof (d. xxxx) in London, shortly before their arrival in New York City.

In New York City, Erdoes enjoyed a long career as a commercial artist, and was known for his highly detailed, whimsical drawings. He created illustrations for such magazines as Stage, Fortune, Pageant, Gourmet, Harper's Bazaar, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, Time, National Geographic and Life Magazine, where he met his second wife, Jean Sternbergh (d. 1995) who was an art director there. The couple married in 1951 and had three children.[6] Erdoes also illustrated many children's books.

An assignment for Life in 1967 took Erdoes to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for the first time, and marked the beginning of the work for which he would be best known. Erdoes was fascinated by Native American culture, outraged at the conditions on the reservation and deeply moved by the Civil Rights Movement that was raging at the time. He wrote histories, collections of Native American stories and myths, and wrote about such voices of the Native American Renaissance as Leonard and Mary Crow Dog and John Fire Lame Deer.[7] The Erdoes' New York City apartment was a well known hub of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the early 1970s[citation needed] and he became involved in the legal defense of several AIM members.[citation needed] In 1975 the family moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where Erdoes continued to write and remained active in the movement for Native American civil rights.

His papers are preserved at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.[8]

Published works[edit]

As author:

  • Musicians Around the World (xxxx)
  • Peddlers and Vendors Around the World (1967)
  • Policeman Around the World (xxxx)
  • The Sun Dance People: The Plains Indians Their Past and Present (1972), by Richard Erdoes
  • The Rain Dance People: The Pueblo Indians, Their Past and Present (1976)
  • Sound of Flutes (1976)
  • Woman Who Dared (1978)
  • Native Americans: The Navajos (1979)
  • Native Americans (1982)
  • Native Americans: The Pueblos (1983)
  • The Richard Erdoes Illustrated Treasury of Classic Unlaundered Limericks (1984)
  • Crying for a Dream: The World through Native American Eyes (1990)
  • Tales from the American Frontier (1992)
  • A.D. 1000: Living on the Brink of Apocalypse (1994)
  • Saloons of the Old West (1997)
  • Legends and Tales of the American West (1998)

As illustrator:

As editor, collector or collaborator:

Honors and awards[edit]


  1. ^ Barnes & Noble 1988,1995, Richard Erdoes: AD 1000 Living on the Brink of Apocalypse
  2. ^ Phillips, Zlata Fuss German Children's and Youth Literature in Exile 1933-1950 2001. p.70 "Richard Erdös (*1912) b. July 7, 1912, Vienna, AHM Exile: 1940 USA Richard Erdös was born on July 7, 1912, in Vienna. ... political domination of the National Socialists made it dangerous for Richard Erdös, a Jew, to remain in Europe."
  3. ^ Hungarian book review: Volumes 16-18; Volumes 16-18 Magyar Könyvkiadók és Könyvterjesztők Egyesülése, 1974 "A booklet is added in English, German and Russian giving details on the history of the Budapest Opera House opened in 1884, ... who died as long ago as 1905, or of Richárd Erdős, who died in 1912 in his thirties, or of Mihaly Takats, ..
  4. ^ "Leopoldine Sangora".
  5. ^ "Erdoes, Richard 1912– - Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series". Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  6. ^ "The adventurous life of the prize-winning illustrator, photographer, and author, Richard Erdoes - "Inyan Wasicun."". Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  7. ^ Beauvais, Archie B. (2008-07-24). "Author Richard Erdoes dies at home at age 96". Lakota Country Times. Archived from the original on December 14, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  8. ^ "Yale Finding Aid Database : Guide to the Richard Erdoes Papers". 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  9. ^ Winter, Ariel S. (2010-04-22). "We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie: RICHARD ERDOES AND THE LOST DR. SEUSS". Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  10. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 1305. Retrieved 13 February 2013.

External Links[edit]