Kurt Werth papers, 1919-1983  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Title
Kurt Werth papers
Dates
1919-1983 (inclusive)
Quantity
24.5 linear feet, (17 containers)2 record storage boxes; 1 manuscript box; 5 (16x20") boxes; 3 (12x15") boxes; 2 (11x17") boxes; 2 (21x25") boxes; 1 (7x10") box; 1 (9x11") box
Collection Number
Coll 100
Summary
Kurt Werth (1896-1983) was a German-born illustrator and author of American children's literature. The collection consists of original children's book illustrations and manuscripts, other artwork and manuscripts, personal papers, artifacts, personal and professional correspondence, and papers of his wife, Margaret Werth.
Repository
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
97403-1299
Telephone: 541-346-3068
spcarref@uoregon.edu
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public.

Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room.

Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Additional Reference Guides
See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.
Languages
English, German
Sponsor
Funding for publishing this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a division of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).


Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Kurt Werth papers represent a major portion of Werth's body of work produced as an illustrator and author of American children's literature. The collection is comprised of original children's book illustrations and manuscripts, other artwork and manuscripts, personal papers, artifacts, personal and professional correspondence, and papers of his wife, Margaret Werth.

The children's book illustrations and manuscripts series primarily includes original artwork created by Werth for children's and juvenile books between the 1950s-1970s. The artwork represents a variety of stages in the illustration process and includes preliminary sketches, dummies, cover art, press-ready color-separated artwork, and proofs. It also includes typed and handwritten manuscript drafts for children's books written by Werth, as well as manuscripts written by other children's literature authors that Werth collaborated with including Rosalys Hall, Sid Fleischman, Millicent Selsam, and Lilian Moore.

The other artwork and manuscripts series primarily represents Werth's early works and includes artwork and writings for non-children's literature created between the 1920s-1940s. Materials include original and printed political cartoons published in American and German periodicals including Common Sense, Free World, Harper's, New York Times, Querschnitt, and Simplicissimus. It also includes artwork and cover proofs for publications, original woodcut prints, greeting card designs, landscape drawings and portraits, story fragments, playscripts, and writings in German.

The personal papers and artifacts series includes biographical information, notes, clippings, memorabilia, artist's tools, relief printing blocks, and a family scrapbook from Europe dated 1926-1938.

The correspondence series contains personal and professional correspondence, including two large files of correspondence with children's literature archives at the University of Minnesota and University of Southern Mississippi. The Margaret Werth papers series includes personal notebooks, literary manuscripts, and poetry created by Margaret Werth.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Kurt Werth was born September 21, 1896 in Leipzig, Germany. He entered the State Academy for the Graphic Arts in Leipzig in 1913 and studied there for two years before being drafted into the army. When not in action, he filled sketchbooks with scenes of the life around him and illustrated a copy of Rilke's The Cornet Rilke. All of these sketchbooks have been lost.

After the war he returned for two more years of study at the State Academy, leaving in 1921 for Munich where he began illustrating limited edition books which included Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, and books by Euripides, Pushkin, Kipling, and the German authors Wasserman and Kleist.

In 1924, Werth began drawing satirical cartoons for the Munich magazine, The Jugend, and the Swiss magazine, Nebelspalter. Four years later he and his wife Margaret, an actress, moved to Berlin where she became part of the City Theater. Here, Werth created satirical cartoons for the Berliner Tageblatt, and the magazines Querschnitt and Simplicissimus, among others.

With Hitler's increasing power, the magazines folded, and Margaret Werth, who was Jewish, was not allowed to work. In the 1939 the Werths emigrated to the United States where Werth found employment illustrating a Sunday column in the New York Times Magazine.

When the United States became involved in World War II, Werth began drawing cartoons for a number of the new magazines that had appeared on the political scene: Common Sense, Free World, The New Republic, Tomorrow, as well as Harper's.

The bulk of these publications disappeared with the war's conclusion, so Werth returned to book publishing, illustrating textbooks for Oxford University Press and other publishing houses. One of his first attempts at illustrating a picture book for children, Rosalys Hall's The Merry Miller, received favorable notice and opened the door to requests from other authors and publishers of children's literature.

Kurt Werth died in New York City on August 25, 1983.

Other Descriptive InformationReturn to Top

The Kurt Werth papers include a scrapbook of photographs previously assigned photograph collection PH020.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Kurt Werth papers, Coll 100, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

1.:  Children's book illustrations and manuscripts, circa 1940s-1970sReturn to Top

Materials in this series are arranged alphabetically by publication title.

The children's book illustrations and manuscripts series primarily includes original artwork created by Werth for children's and juvenile books between the 1950s-1970s. The artwork represents a variety of stages in the illustration process and includes preliminary sketches, dummies, cover art, press-ready color-separated artwork, and proofs. The breadth of these publication materials vary for each title. It also includes typed and handwritten manuscript drafts for children's books written by Werth, as well as manuscripts written by other children's literature authors that Werth collaborated with including Rosalys Hall, Sid Fleischman, Millicent Selsam, and Lilian Moore.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1, 5/1
Aldo's Tower
circa 1954
1/2, 9/1
Are You Poor? Are You Rich?
circa 1940s-1970s
1/3
The Baker's Dozen
circa 1950s-1970s
1/4
The Bear in the Bathtub
1969
1/5-6, 4/1-9, 14/1
Bear Trouble
circa 1960
1/7
Boniface the Bunny
circa 1945
1/8
The Breeding Place
circa 1940s-1970s
1/9
The Bremen Musicians
circa 1940s-1970s
1/10
The Bright and Shining Breadboard
circa 1969
1/11
The Cakebakers and the Shepherds
circa 1940s-1970s
1/12-13
Caliph Stork
circa 1950s-1970s
1/14
Children of the 'City of Benares'
1942
1/15
The Clockwinder
circa 1950s-1970s
1/16-17, 9/2-3, 14/2
The Cobbler's Dilemma
circa 1967-1969
1/18
The Cunning Peasant or The Greedy Sexton
circa 1940s-1970s
1/19
Dany on the Playground
circa 1950s-1970s
1/20
Elmira! Oh Elmira!
circa 1950s-1970s
7/1-7
Feast on Sullivan Street
circa 1963
1/21
The Fellow Who Ate the Little Liver
circa 1940s-1970s
1/22
Fly Your Kite
circa 1940s-1970s
1/23
The Four Musicians
circa 1950s-1970s
1/24-25
The Gentle Hermit
circa 1950s-1970s
1/26
"Giacomo and Julio"
circa 1940s-1970s
1/27-28
Gideon's Gold
circa 1975
1/29, 5/2-3, 14/3-7
Hear Ye of Boston
circa 1964
1/30
Hear Ye of Philadelphia
circa 1968
9/4
Herbert's Stilts
circa 1972
1/31, 7/8-10
The House that Changed
circa 1963
1/32-33
How a Piglet Crashed the Christmas Party
circa 1971
1/34, 7/11-13, 9/5-6
How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas
1962
1/35, 8/1-3
Idy, the Fox-chasing Cow
circa 1962
1/36-38
It's Fun to Rhyme
circa 1975-1977
1/39
Isabelle and the Library Cat
1966
1/40-41
It's Snowing!
circa 1950s-1970s
5/4
Jonathan D
circa 1950s-1970s
1/42-43
King Thrushbeard
1966-1968
1/44
Lazy Jack
1970
1/45, 8/4-8, 15/1
The Little Naturalist
circa 1959
5/5-6, 15-2
The Luck Book
circa 1964
1/46, 9/7-11
McBroom and the Big Wind
circa 1967
1/47, 10/1-6
McBroom the Rainmaker
circa 1973
1/48
McBroom Tells the Truth
circa 1966
1/49-50, 10/7-10
McBroom's Zoo
circa 1972
1/51, 11/1-6
Meet Miki Takino
circa 1963
2/1
The Merry Miller
circa 1952
11/7-10
Miranda's Dragon
circa 1968
2/2-3
Mr. Vinegar
circa 1950s-1970s
2/4-7, 12/1
Molly and the Giant
circa 1971-1973
2/8-9
The Monkey, the Lion, and the Snake
circa 1966-1967
2/10
Nele Goes to Bethlehem
circa 1940s-1970s
12/2
The Newcomers: Ten Tales of American Immigrants
1974
2/11
One Dark Night
circa 1969
2/12
Orlando, the Liar
circa 1940s-1970s
2/13
Pepys' Boy
circa 1955
12/3
The Red Badge of Courage
circa 1950s-1970s
2/14
Rosamond and Abibas
circa 1940s-1970s
2/15-16
The Sacred Cow
circa 1968
2/17
Sammy and the Slide
circa 1940s-1970s
2/18, 12/4-6
Samuel Clemens
circa 1970
2/19, 12/7-9
Scat the Witch's Cat
circa 1958
2/20-21, 12/10-11, 13/1
Stop It, Moppit!
circa 1959
2/22
The Story of San Francisco
circa 1955
2/23
Tales Merry and Wise
1958
2/24-25
The Tales of Baron Meunchhausen
circa 1974
2/26
That Lincoln Boy
circa 1968
2/27-30, 13/2-3, 15/3-6
The Three Beggar Kings
1966-1974
2/31
The Three Cornered House
circa 1950s-1970s
2/32
Three Robbers and Beppo
circa 1950s-1970s
2/33, 13/4-9
A Tiger Called Thomas
circa 1963
2/34
Tinker's Castle
circa 1964
8/9-14
Tony's Birds
circa 1961
2/35
The Turnip
circa 1940s-1970s
2/36
The Twelve Travellers
circa 1940s-1970s
15/7
Unidentified works
circa 1950s-1970s
2/37
The Valiant Tailor
1965
2/38-39
What Are You Afraid Of?
circa 1971-1972
8/15
Where Do You Go?
circa 1950s-1970s
2/40
Who's Afraid?
1976
2/41-42
The Wolf and the Shepherds
circa 1950s-1970s

2.:  Other artwork and manuscripts, 1919-1970sReturn to Top

Materials in this series are arranged alphabetically by type of work.

The other artwork and manuscripts series primarily represents Werth's early works and includes artwork and writings for non-children's literature created between the 1920s-1940s. Materials include original and printed political cartoons published in American and German periodicals including Common Sense, Free World, Harper's, New York Times, Querschnitt, and Simplicissimus. It also includes artwork and cover proofs for publications, original woodcut prints and relief printing blocks, greeting card designs, landscape drawings and portraits, story fragments, playscripts, and writings in German.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
2/43-47
Book illustrations, The Adventurous Simplicissimus
circa 1930s-1970s
2/48
Book illustrations, clippings
circa 1940s
2/49
Book illustrations, Cyrano de Bergerac
1930
2/50
Book illustrations, The Wedding of San Domingo
1930
6/1
Book jacket proofs
circa 1940s-1950s
6/2-4, 15/8
Early works
circa 1920s-1950s
2/51
Greeting card designs
circa 1919-1970s
2/52
Mural photographs
circa 1920s-1940s
15/9
Periodical illustrations, clippings
circa 1940s
3/1-2
Playscripts in German
circa 1920s-1960s
3/3
Reference texts
circa 1950s-1970s
Box
16
Relief printing blocks
circa 1920s-1970s
Box/Folder
6/5-6, 15/10
Sketches
circa 1950s-1982
3/4
Story fragments, handwritten
circa 1940s-1960s
6/7
Woodcut prints
circa 1920s-1970s
3/5
Writings in German
circa 1941-1960s

3.:  Personal papers and artifacts, 1926-1983Return to Top

Materials in this series are arranged alphabetically.

The personal papers and artifacts series includes biographical information, notes, clippings, memorabilia, artist's tools, and a family scrapbook from Europe dated 1926-1938.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box
16
Artist's tools
circa 1940s-1970s
Box/Folder
3/6
Biographical material
circa 1969-1983
3/7
Collected artwork
1953-1970
3/8-9
Collected clippings and ephemera
circa 1930s-1983
3/10
Notes
circa 1940s-1970s
Box
17
Scrapbook
1926-1938

4.:  Correspondence, circa 1941-1981Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 3/11-15

Materials in this series are arranged alphabetically by correspondent or type.

The correspondence series contains personal and professional correspondence. The bulk of these materials include two files of correspondence with children's literature archives at the University of Minnesota and University of Southern Mississippi.

5.:  Margaret Werth papers, circa 1930s-1968Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 3/16-18

Materials in this series are arranged alphabetically.

The Margaret Werth papers series includes personal notebooks and typed literary manuscripts created by Margaret Werth.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Children's literature--Authorship
  • Children's literature--Illustrations
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Book illustrations