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C. W. Kahles Papers

An inventory of his Papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Kahles, C. W. (Charles William)
Title: C. W. Kahles Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1886-1976
Bulk Dates: 1900-1930
Quantity: 2 linear ft.
Abstract: Biographical information, correspondence, photos, personal memorabilia, clippings, published material, 1 original oil painting, original cartoons and photocopies of cartoons, including representative material from Hairbreadth Harry and examples of Kahles' numerous other strips.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Charles William Kahles (1878-1931), commonly known as C. W. Kahles, was an American cartoonist and creator of the newspaper comic strip Hairbreadth Harry.

Kahles was born in Lengfurt, Bavaria, Germany on January 12, 1878. When Kahles was six, his family moved to the United States, settling in the Windsor Terrace section of Brooklyn. As a child, Kahles sketched the natural environment around him. He and his brother worked as apprentices in a stained glass shop and Kahles went on to study at the Pratt Institute and the Brooklyn Art School.

In the 1890s, Kahles worked as a news artist for the New York Recorder, then Grit based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania before returning to New York to work for the New York World. In the early 1900s Kahles embarked on his career as a very prolific cartoonist. His Clarence the Cop ran in the New York World from 1900-1909 while Kahles began Sandy Highflyer, Airship Man in May of 1902. Juggling these strips and others for several years, Kahles also contributed to magazines such as Judge where his The Yarns of Captain Fibb appeared. Kahles drew in several different styles and utilized caricature, satire, realism, suspense and fantasy.

In 1906, Hairbreadth Harry debuted with the Philadelphia Press and continued until the paper left the syndication business in 1915. McClure Syndicate brought Hairbreadth Harry back a few months later in January 1916. In 1923 the comic strip was moved to the Ledger Syndicate and from 1926-1928 several two reel silent Hairbreadth Harry movies were produced. After Kahles death, F.O. Alexander continued Hairbreadth Harry until 1939.

It has been noted by his family and authors that Kahles often worked too much. As a hobby and for relaxation, he pursued painting and also enjoyed traveling in his touring car. Still his career adversely affected his health. Kahles suffered from inflammatory rheumatism at a young age and developed heart problems. C.W. Kahles died January 21, 1931 in Great Neck, Long Island, New York.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The C. W. Kahles Papers provide representative examples of Kahles’ prolific career. The papers include biographical information, correspondence, photographs, clippings, examples of Kahles' magazine illustrations, 1 original oil painting, original cartoons and photocopies of cartoons, and material from Hairbreadth Harry as well as Kahles' other strips.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The C. W. Kahles Papers are organized into several small series. Please consult the detailed inventory below for more information.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

A limited edition, numbered copy of The Pleiades Club Yearbook from 1913 which includes a drawing by Kahles has been removed from this collection and sent to Rare Books.

Special Collections Research Center has collections of over one hundred cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

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Subject Headings


Kahles, C. W. (Charles William)

Associated Titles

Clarence the Cop (comic strip)
Hairbreadth Harry.
Sandy Highflyer the Airship Man (comic strip)
The Kelly Kids (comic strip)
The Perils of Submarine Boating (comic strip)


Adirondack Mountains (N.Y.)
American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Biography files.
Cartoons (humorous images)
Clippings (information artifacts)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

C. W. Kahles Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. C. H. Straut, 1968-1970, 1977.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MD
Date: 25 Mar 2009
Revision history: 25 Mar 2009 - converted to EAD (MD); 6 Aug 2009 - added biographical info and detailed inventory (SK)

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Biographical material
Oversize 1 Pleiades Club 1907-1908 1913
Oversize 1 Royalty statements 1933 1935
Oversize 1 Miscellaneous biographical information 1913 1968 1976 - includes a clipping about Kahles' divorce, a list of his comic strips and a speech given by his daughter
Oversize 1 Incoming correspondence- fan mail 1930
Oversize 1 Incoming correspondence- postcards 1912 1915 undated
Oversize 1 Outgoing correspondence- Joseph Hausleiter 1895 - Kahles apprenticed in Hausleiter's stained glass shop.
Oversize 1 Outgoing correspondence- Estelle P. Kahles 1916
Oversize 1 Outgoing correspondence- Jessie Kahles 1922-1923 1928-1930 undated
Oversize 1 Adirondacks undated
Oversize 1 Personal and family photographs 1886-1930
Oversize 1 Potsy (comic strip) 1967
Oversize 1 Hairbreadth Harry 1924 1926
Magazine illustrations
Oversize 1 Various examples of Kahles' work from Life, Judge and other publications 1909 1912 1914 1917 - primarily tearsheets, proofs and photocopies. Included is The Yarns of Captain Fibb and a copy of an illustration that appeared in Life in 1918, the original of which was given to Herbert Hoover.
Hairbreadth Harry
Oversize 1 Photographs circa 1926-1928 - stills from several Hairbreadth Harry films
Oversize 1 Samples 1923 1930-1931
Oversize 1 Comic strips 1906-1907 1916 1930 undated - primarily tearsheets and photocopies
Comic strips
Oversize 1 Examples Kahles' work 1900 1902 circa 1900-1909 undated - primarily tearsheets and photocopies of other comic strips drawn by Kahles including The Kelly Kids, Clarence the Cop, The Perils of Submarine Boating and Sandy Highflyer, the Airship Man.
Oversize 1 Original painting of the Adirondacks by Kahles circa 1904-1905
Oversize 1 National Cartoonists Society drawing 1963 - photocopy of a drawing dedicated to Kahles' daughter Jessie, featuring work by several NCS cartoonists.

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