Must Be Santa

Santa Claus in the 1910s and 1920s had largely come into focus as the jolly, bearded, happy soul we would recognize today, but artists still occasionally tweaked the color of Santa's robes or the amount of girth they added around the middle. In 1822, American poet Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem for his daughters about "A Visit from St. Nicholas," describing the holiday gift-giver as a "little old driver, so lively and quick" who was small enough to fit down chimneys. By the 1860s, famous cartoonist Thomas Nast had turned Santa Claus into a fully human-sized character and given him a home at the North Pole.

Read more of this story from our National Museum of American History and learn about Santa's role in advertising history.