Cover Collection: Back to School

Classrooms may have changed from pencils to PowerPoint, but the Saturday Evening Post has always been there to witness sending our kids back to school.


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Classrooms may have changed from pencils to PowerPoint, but the Saturday Evening Post has always been there to witness sending our kids back to school. 


Back to School 
Robert C. Kauffmann 
September 11, 1937 


Robert C. Kauffmann painted five covers for the Post, on a variety of subjects from pets to water skiers. With their backs to the viewer, we can only guess what these two are feeling about the first day of school.  


Growing Boy 
Frances Tipton Hunter 
September 16, 1939 


Frances Tipton Hunter was one of the most nationally recognized artists in Post history, depicting childhood in a style similar to Norman Rockwell. Most kids grow about 2 inches each year, so this mother likely has a lot of work ahead of her. 


School Bus 
Stevan Dohanos 
September 2, 1944 


This is one time when the kids look happier than the dogs do about going to school.  


Flowers for Teacher 
Stevan Dohanos 
September 7, 1946 


When Stevan Dohanos painted his picture of the first day of school, the children were brimming with excitement—not because they were posing for a cover, but because the day in question was a great day indeed. It was actually the last day of school, in June.  


Separation Anxiety 
George Hughes 
September 11, 1948 


Artist George Hughes painted this scene at Bennington College, in Vermont, which operates a nursery school. “Do you ask me if I have any children of my own?” Hughes mutters. “Only five girls. The one who is crying on the cover is, of course, mine.” 


Crossing Guard 
George Hughes 
September 6, 1952 


If artist George Hughes hadn’t stationed the young lifesaver on that corner, would that man have stepped dreamily into the street, just missed being nicked by the car, and then blamed it in loud words on the driver?  


End of Recess 
John Falter 
October 17, 1953 


Regarding that impending touchdown, we bet the teacher knows enough football to rule it illegal—ball was snapped after the school bell rang. 


First Day of School 
Thornton Utz 
September 6, 1958 


Artist Thornton Utz vows that when he was very little he liked school so much that he asked his folks if he couldn’t also go to night school. In time he got over that aberration. 


Morning Coffee Break 
Amos Sewell 
September 12, 1959 


In mother’s ears is a faint, faraway ringing—would it be an echo of the youthful din that has dinned in her ears all summer, or does she think she hears what she is merely imagining, a school bell ringing? Anyway, peace.  

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  1. Harry, a lot of people think Norman Rockwell painted “all of the covers” of The Saturday Evening Post, when in reality he painted 322 covers for the magazine between 1916-’63, 47 years. 47×52=2,444* covers in that time period, meaning Rockwell did NOT paint 2,122 of the covers. 322 is still a lot!!

    All the rest (excluding any photography*) were painted by the artists you see here, and many, many, many others. The general themes of these covers are ‘Rockwell-ish’, because the POST needed the consistency of this every week back then for the covers.

    There are also just enough Rockwell elements/flavor in most of them for people to assume he did them all, plus (unfortunately) most don’t know names like Stevan Dohanos, George Hughes, Ellen Pyle, John Falter, Richard Sargent, Thorton Utz and the list goes on and on, trust me! Rockwell painting all of the covers would be like Santa Claus going down every chimney around the world with a sack full of presents for every child all in the one night, for lack of a better analogy.

  2. When my husband, Russ, and I were married in 1948, we picked up the monthly issue of the Saturday Evening Post on our way home from work. Then, while i fixed dinner, Russ would read the Post aloud to me. We especially enjoyed the continued stories. Now i am an author myself.

  3. At 78 years of age like many the changing times, it’s really nice to reflect on a past that regardless of everything we remember those things that were fun and relaxing. Those pictures for us are to be cherished.

  4. I thought that Norman Rockwell painted all the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. I guess not. If I did< I don't remember. But is it true? Rockwell did not paint all the covers?

  5. I thought that Norman Rockwell painted all the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. I guess not.

  6. I just love all of these covers. The boys on the top cover look like they’re following this yellow road very reluctantly, for good reason.

    In ‘School Bus’ from 1944 I love how the kids are waving goodbye to the 3 dogs who’d love to be joining them, jump up those bus steps if given the chance—even if it meant going to school too. Love the beautiful sky and clouds.

    ‘Separation Anxiety’ is a beautiful cover, but the girl’s overreaction seems to delight some of the children, and leave others others amused or confused.

    ‘End of Recess’ is beautiful too. The sky and clouds in my coffee are magnificent. I can almost hear the teacher clanging the bell shouting “Boys, get in here now! Boys, please!”

    In ‘Morning Coffee Break’ Mom looks kind of frazzled to me. Is this break before or after she had one of her ‘little helpers’?


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