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Karl K. Knecht Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Knecht, Karl K.
Title: Karl K. Knecht Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1906-1966
Quantity: 2 linear ft.
Abstract: 88 original editorial cartoons (1906-1960) , correspondence (1926-1966) and two photographs (undated)
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Karl K. Knecht (1883-1972) was an American cartoonist.

Karl Kae Knecht was born in Iroquois, Dakota Territory on December 4, 1883 and grew up in Illinois. Knecht’s mother was an Irish immigrant and Knecht’s father owned a clothing store and drew cartoons to use in store advertisements. Knecht attended the Chicago Art Institute for three years and after publishing his first cartoon in 1905 in the Freeport (Illinois) Standard, Knecht went to work as the cartoonist at the Evansville Courier where his first cartoon appeared in September 1906.

In addition to drawing cartoons for the paper, Knecht became staff photographer in 1917 when the newspaper bought its first camera and also wrote columns and reviews. His "Say, Kay! What of Folks, Shows, Animals N' Such" column appeared weekly from 1919 until 1954. Knecht was named director of the paper and served as vice president from 1952 to 1960. For most of Knecht’s career, his cartoons appeared seven days a week on the front page until 1954 when they were moved to the editorial page. Knecht worked for the Courier for so long that he came to be known as the “dean of editorial cartoonists”.

Knecht was also involved with the circus. He helped organize the Circus Fans Association in 1925 and was both secretary-treasurer and president of that organization and produced its magazine, White Tops. He also helped found the Mesker Zoo in Evansville after he was given a pair of lions in the late 1920s.

Knecht was a member of Sigma Delta Chi and also a founding member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. In 1953, Knecht received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Evansville College and July 22, 1954 was proclaimed Karl Kae Knecht Day in Evansville, Indiana. He was also a supporter of numerous charitable causes and would at times use his cartoons to bring attention to these causes.

Karl Kae Knecht retired from the Courier in May 1960 and died in Evansville, Indiana on July 28, 1972.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Karl K. Knecht Papers consists of two series: Cartoons and Correspondence and Photographs.

Cartoons contains 88 original editorial cartoons dating from 1906 to 1960 with several undated cartoons at the end of the series. Generally, Knecht's cartoons were drawn on chalk plate from 1906 to 1912 and then with pen and ink. Dmensions vary. Knecht often included an elephant with his signature. Some sources have noted that this was due to Knecht's allegiance to the Republican Party while other sources have said the elephant was included as an homage to Knecht's interest in the circus and possible a reference to the elephants that were given to him. The circus was a motif Knecht frequently used to portray politics and a recurring character in Knecht's cartoons was Mr. Public who represented the way political decisions affected the common person.

Correspondence and Photographs is comprised of incoming letters arranged chronologically and two photographs. Notable correspondents include fellow cartoonists: Milton Caniff, Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling (1961) and John T. McCutcheon. Also included are letters from Clyde Beatty (1965), Eddie Cantor, Senator Albert B. Chandler, Joe Cook (vaudeville actor), Katherine Cornell, Representative Winfield K. Denton (1964), John Nance Garner (1940), J. Edgar Hoover, Representative Charles M. LaFollette, Representative Maury Maverick, John Ringling North, Henry Ringling North, and Tiffany Thayer. Knecht's work with circuses is a frequent topic and several letters were written on colored circus themed stationary.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Both series are arranged chronologically with undated material appearing at the end.

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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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Subject Headings


Einstein, Albert -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Knecht, Karl K.

Corporate Bodies

Democratic National Committee (U.S.) -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United States. Congress -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Associated Titles

Evansville Courier (Evansville, Ind.)


Holidays -- Caricatures and cartoons.
American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- Indiana.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- Indiana.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Editorial cartoons -- Indiana -- Evansville.
Editorial cartoons -- United States.
Political cartoons.
World politics -- Caricatures and cartoons.


Russia -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Editorial cartoons.



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Karl K. Knecht Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mr. Karl K. Knecht, 1966.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: GBS
Date: Mar 1969
Revision history: 27 Mar 2008 - converted to EAD (MRC); 12 Oct 2009 - revised inventory, bio scope and contents, added index (SK); 2 Jul 2012 - Einstein cartoon located (MRC)

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Titles appearing in brackets are not official captions but rather prominent phrases or people mentioned in the cartoon.
Oversize 1, Folder 1 1906-1907
1906- Sep 29: Labor Day at Oyster Bay
1907: The victor or our next president
Oversize 1, Folder 2 1912-1936
1912: Always Lurking About
1912- Feb 29: [Leap Year]
1920: [Christmas]
1925: The Bryan/Darrow Trial, Dayton, Tennessee
1927: [Lindy (Charles Lindbergh)]
1932- May 16: [Aw! Gee! Wizz, Paw]
1933: [Relief Fund]
1933: Nov 28: Birds
1934: [U.S. Migratory Bird Laws]
1935- Oct 30: [Halloween]
1936- Oct: [FDR]
Oversize 1, Folder 3 1938-1939
1938- Nov 17: [Today's Newspapers of the World]
1939: A Circus Innovation: Air Conditioning
1939- Feb 16: [The Fleet in Maneuvers Around the Panama Canal]
1939- Mar 10: [The Flu]
1939- Mar 17: [Hitler's New Home ]
1939- May 19: Ben Hur
1939- May 24: [Stand Pat on New Deal]
1939: [Indiana politics]
Oversize 1, Folder 4 1940-1947
1940- Jun 5: [Hitler]
1940- Jun 6: [Monroe Doctrine]
1941- Apr 1: Animals and Circus Plus Theater
1941- May 8: [Haile Selassie ]
1941- Jul 14: [Joint Action Against Germany]
1943- Oct 28: [Yugoslavia]
1946- Oct 28: Caught in a Whirlwind
1946- Nov 14: [Politics]
1947- Apr 18: When Will We Learn
1947- Jul 3: [Old Time Fourth of July]
Oversize 1, Folder 5 1949-1951
1949- Jan 25: [Republican National Committee]
1949- Apr 29: [Leaving China]
1949- May 13: Blue Cross Blue Shield
1949- May 19: [Tammany of NYC -- FDR, Jr.]
1950: Across the Horizon
1950: [Noah's Ark]
1950- Mar 17: [Come Back to Erin]
1950- Mar 22: [Evansville, Indiana]
1950- Sep 16: Closed and Open Books
1951- Sep 3: Labor Day
Oversize 1, Folder 6 1952-1953
1952- Jun 28: [Police Fund Charity]
1952- Jul 4: [Abraham Lincoln]
1953- May 26: [French Cabinet Crisis]
1953: [The Great Outdoors]
1953- Jun 5: [United Nations]
1953- Jun 7: [Education]
1953- Jun 13: [Ike on a Fishing Trip]
1953- Aug: "No!"
1953- Sep 10: [Jewish New Year]
Oversize 1, Folder 7 1954-1955
1954- Feb 9: "A-Men-!"
1954- May 18: [A Rival]
1954- Nov: [Thanksgiving]
1955: [Arbitration]
1955- Apr 19: [Einstein]
1955- Jun: [Tell th' boys I'll be home soon- with lots to tell, an' to look at the situation over]
Aug 5: Which will Kentucky choose?
1955- Nov 4: Time to Change Again
1955- Dec 6: Bound to Be a Few Discordant Notes at First
Oversize 1, Folder 8 1956-1957
1956- Jan 2: There are Other Mirrors, Look!
1956- Aug 31: How Time Doth Fly
1956- Oct 17: Not the Time for That!
1956- Oct 24: When the Big "Poles" Snap, Look Out
1957- May 17: Their Days
1957- Nov 1: Get It Out from Under the Stack
1957- Nov 13: Not Quite "Second Table," But...!
1957- Nov 16: At Least Get His Belt Buckled
Oversize 1, Folder 9 1958-1959
1958- Apr 12: Mr. X Senator, How did your folk react, to unemployment and taxes? Mr. X Congressman, How did your's react to recession and high prices?
1958- Apr 16: A Blotch! Botch!
1958- May 31: The French Merry-Go-Round
1958- Nov 26: Turkey Time Traffic Tie-up
1958- Dec 24: There Is a Santa Claus
1959- Jan 7: What I Say Is, Please Forget About 1960!
1959- Jan 20: To Tip the Balance
1959- Mar 25: Holy Week
1959- Sep 3: Now For the Top Mounter of "the Big Four"
Oversize 1, Folder 10 1960; undated
1960: As of Today
1960- May 6: Bump--bump--bumping Along
1960- May 10: Is My Face Red!
1960- May 14: At Least Start to Bury It!
1960- May 19: Reverting to Type!
1960- May 26: Can't Run From the Shadow -- As Long As Such a Sun Shines
year unknown- May 26: [Herr Hitler]
If this...why not this...?
[I've Decided to Handle Your Letters From the Little Ones]
[Storm Clouds]
[Juvenile Delinquency]
Correspondence and photographs
Written comments and annotations appear on many pieces of correspondence with further details about the correspondent.
Box 1 Correspondence 1926, 1929-1933, 1935-1939
Box 1 Correspondence 1940-1943, 1947
Box 1 Correspondence 1964-1966
Box 1 Correspondence Undated
Box 1 Photograph of Knecht Undated
Box 1 Photograph of cartoon "His Only Hope"- marked as first cartoon- Evansville Courier Undated

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Index to cartoons

The following is a list of predominant people, places and subjects appearing in the editorial cartoons in this collection. The list is not exhaustive. Some subjects may require you to browse with alternative terms.

B= Box, F= Folder. For example: B1F1= Box 1 Folder 1.

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