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C. W. Kahles Papers

An inventory of his Papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MD
Date: 25 Mar 2009

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.

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.

Arrangement of the Collection

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


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.

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.

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)



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.

Table of Contents

Biographical material




Magazine illustrations

Hairbreadth Harry

Comic strips