University of Evansville

University Libraries

Research, Study and Learning at UE Libraries.

Karl Kae Knecht Collection

Knecht Artwork

A collection of original cartoons by Karl Kae Knecht, long time Evansville Courier editorial cartoonist, was donated to the University of Evansville Archives by Knecht in 1962. He presented approximately 3,400 cartoons to UE, a small number of the more than 18,000 cartoons Knecht produced throughout his 54-year (1906-1960) career at the Courier. As a cartoonist, Karl Knecht was distinctive in several ways:

  • His length of service to the same newspaper
  • His use of chalk plate rather than pen and ink in his early career
  • The location of his cartoons on the front page of the newspaper for 46 years
  • His use of an elephant logo as a symbol to comment on current events

Knecht’s excellence as an editorial cartoonist was recognized by newspaper editors throughout the United States and around the world. His cartoons were reprinted in the New York Evening Post, the Washington Herald, the Chicago Daily Tribune, Catholic Record, Christian Science Monitor, and the Liverpool (England) Post. Several of his cartoons have been used as illustrations in American history textbooks. One cartoon often re-printed in these books is the 1912 cartoon on the Republican Presidential nomination battle between Taft and Roosevelt entitled “Hand It Back, Bill.” In 1949 he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning.

The cartoons and scrapbooks given to UE by Karl Knecht are located in a secure room in the University Archives. The cartoons occupy an 18-drawer steel cabinet. They are in good physical condition and are arranged by decades, and each drawer is labeled. The scrapbooks are arranged chronologically on wooden shelves near the steel cabinet. They are extremely fragile with pages that crumble when handled.

Digital access to the cartoons is now available via the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Libraries digital archive. Physical access to the collection of cartoons and scrapbooks is also possible. Users are encouraged to schedule a meeting with Kathy Bartelt, UE collection development librarian, at 812-488-2486 for assistance with identifying and viewing the cartoons.