Scope and Contents
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.
- Werth, Kurt (Person)
Conditions Governing Access note
Conditions Governing Use note
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.
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
Language of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Separated Materials note
Photographs in PH020
Processing Information note
- Guide to the Kurt Werth Papers
- Complete Description
- Finding aid prepared by Alexa Goff
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 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).