Robert F. Karolevitz Papers

Black-and-white photograph of Bob Karolevitz working at his desk.

Identity elements

Reference code

MA 039

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Robert F. Karolevitz Papers


  • 1833-2011 (Accumulation)


74.25 linear feet [58 record boxes, 9 oversize flat boxes, 1 long legal document case]

Name of creator


Biographical history

Robert F. Karolevitz, a native of Yankton, South Dakota, was born at Sacred Heart Hospital on April 26, 1922. He began his writing career in high school as editor of the school newspaper and yearbook. He also wrote a sports column for the Yankton Public Opinion. After graduation from Yankton High School in 1940, he began studying printing and journalism at South Dakota State College.

From 1943 to 1946, Karolevitz served with the United States Army Infantry in Japan and the Philippines during World War II. He attained the rank of captain of the 25th Infantry, and, as division historian, wrote his first book, The 25th Infantry Division and World War II which was published by the Army and Nave Publishing Company in 1946. Following his military service, he returned to South Dakota State College and graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Printing and Rural Journalism. From Brookings, Karolevitz went on to study at the University of Oregon, where he earned a master's degree in journalism.

As an army reservist in 1950, Karolevitz attended a 14-week course at the Armed Forces Information School in Pennsylvania and gained national attention for his article about the program in Quill, a magazine for professional journalists. In 1951, he was recalled to active duty as a public-information officer at the Seattle (Washington) Port of Embarkation where he organized and promoted welcome home celebrations for returning Korean War veterans. Later in the Korean War, he worked as a public-information officer with the United States Eighth Army. His duties included serving in Korea as a feature writer, document censor, and press escort for the Panmunjom Peace Train.

In 1951, Karolevitz and his wife, Phyllis (Gunderson) settled in Seattle, Washington. He began working as a freelance promoter and publicist for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. He also worked at political ghost writing, commercial writing, and advertising, eventually becoming president of the Seattle Advertising Club. Karolevitz established himself as a writer of popular history with his book Newspapering in the Old West: A Pictorial History of Journalism and Printing on the Frontier, published in 1965 by Superior Publishing in Seattle. He won a special award for excellence from the Washington State Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi for this book.

After almost two decades in the Seattle, Washington, area, Karolevitz returned to South Dakota with his wife Phyllis and two daughters, Jan and Jill. Here he continued his freelance writing career and began building a publication list that included numerous historical works. These included Where Your Heart Is: The Story of Harvey Dunn, Artist which earned Karolevitz the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Wrangler Award, presented to outstanding writers in the field of western literature; Challenge: The South Dakota Story an historical overview of the state written in conjunction with the South Dakota Division of Elementary and Secondary Education and for which he was presented the Western Writers Award for Achievement by the Center of Western Studies at Augustana College, in Sioux Falls, S.D; and Flight of Eagles: The Story of the American Kosciuszko Squadron in the Polish-Russian War, 1919-1920, written with Ross Fenn. This is the story of a group of World War I American fliers who choose to stay in Europe to fight with Polish forces during a year-long war against Russia. Karolevitz and Fenn were awarded a Gold Merit Cross from the Polish Government-in-Exile in London. / Along with his historical works, Karolevitz authored a column entitled "Writer at Large," which appeared in a number of South Dakota newspapers. He also wrote "The Way It Was," a historical column featured in the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan. He compiled his favorite columns into two books, Tears in My Horseradish (1983) and Toulouse the Goose and Other Ridiculous Stories (1985).

Karolevitz has served as a board member for many institutions, including Yankton County Historical Society, the South Dakota Hall of Fame, and the South Dakota Art Museum. He was elected to the South Dakota State Historical Society Board of Trustees in 1973 and served for over thirty years, retiring in June 2005. He also played a role in the establishment of the South Dakota State Historical Society Press in 1997, acting as financial advisor and author's advocate. He has served as president of the South Dakota State University Alumni Association and has received its Distinguished Alumni Award. He is past chairman of Sacred Heart Hospital board of trustees and the South Dakota Health Systems Agency. He was chairman of the board of Lewis & Clark Health Education & Service Agency, and served on the board of directors of the Yankton Area Health Education Center.

Throughout most of his professional career, Karolevitz has published nearly forty books, written dozens of columns, and sold over one thousand magazine articles, features, and poems, many to national publications. In honor of his years of achievement, he was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 1973 and selected as the organization's Writer of the Year in 1986. The South Dakota Newspaper Association named him Distinguished Citizen of the Year in 1981, and the South Dakota Council of Teachers of English named his Author of the Year for 1989-1990. Karolevitz received the Pankow Media Award in 1991 and was chosen as Yankton's Citizen of the Year in 1981 for his literary work and civic involvement. He also earned the Bishop Dudley Media Award from the Diocese of Sioux Falls (2004) and the Sertoma Service to Mankind Award (2005).

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The papers of Robert F. Karolevitz (1922-) span the years 1833-2005, with the bulk of the material dating from 1910-1999. The collection is composed personal, professional, and research files, as well as photographs.

The personal files span the years 1894-2005, with the bulk of the material dating from 1968-1981. The bulk of this series is composed of material relating to personal areas of Karolevitz's life not directly related with his professional writing career. The exception to this would be the correspondence series which is composed of material related to both his professional and personal life and includes correspondence with family members and friends. Materials include audio visual material, awards and recognition, clubs and organizations, committees and boards, correspondence, education, ephemera and collected materials, family, financial and legal documents, and material related to Karolevitz’s other interests and activities.

The professional files span the years 1947-2002, with the bulk of the material dating from 1960-1969. The series consists of material created by Karolevitz during his career. Included are articles that were published in various periodicals, manuscripts and other material related to books written by Karolevitz, columns written for several different newspapers, commercial writing and advertising material, political ghostwriting material and speech files. Also included is material related to publishers, other writings, and other material related to writings, such as layout material, rejection slips, and catalogs that listed his books for sale.

The research files span the years 1833-2005, with the bulk of the material dating from 1910-1999. The series is composed of material collected by Karolevitz relating either directly to research for books and articles that he wrote or material that was of interest to him. Material consists mainly of clippings of newspapers and magazine articles, publications, booklets, brochures, pamphlets, photographs and illustrations, correspondence, notes written by Karolevitz and other miscellaneous collected material. Many folders contain only one or a few items.

The photographs are composed of images Karolevitz collected and used in his many publications. Included are images related to automobiles, journalism, medicine, religion, people, and places.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Open. Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only. Researchers conducting extensive research are asked to make an advance appointment to access archival material. Please call or e-mail prior to visiting the collection and indicate as much detail as possible about a particular topic and intended use.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The donor retains copyright until his death, at which time copyright and renewal rights to the donated materials transfer to the donor's designee. Many of the photographs in this collection were collected from sources other than Karolevitz and may have copyright restrictions on them. It is the responsibility of anyone reproducing material from this collection to determine the copyright holders and obtain permission from them if necessary. Archives staff will provide available copyright information on request.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials


Rogers, C. M. & Karolevitz, R. F. (2011) South Dakota’s challenges since 1960. Sioux Falls, S.D: Charles Rogers.
F651.K372 2011
Torrance, R. C. (Roscoe C. & Karolevitz, R. F. (1988) Torchy : the biography and reminiscences of Roscoe C. Torrance. Mission Hill, S.D: Dakota Homestead Publishers.
GV742.42.T67 A3 1988
Karolevitz, R. F. (1995) The 25th Division and World War 2. Nashville: Battery Press.
769.3 25th .A5 1995
Karolevitz, R. F. (1985) From quill to computer : the story of America’s community newspapers. Freeman, S.D: By Pine Hill Press for the National Newspaper Foundation.
PN4888.C594 K37 1985
Karolevitz, R. F. (1971) Pioneer church in a pioneer city : the story of Sacred Heart Parish, Yankton, South Dakota, 1871-1971. 1st ed. Aberdeen, S.D: North Plains Press.
BX46.3.Y3 K3
Karolevitz, R. F. (1983) Public relations : Rx for the health care team. St. Louis, MO: Catholic Health Association of the United States.
RA965.5.K36 1983
Karolevitz, R. F. (1971) Everything’s green ... but my thumb! 1st ed. Aberdeen, S.D: North Plains Press.
S521.5.W2 K37
Karolevitz, R. F. (1970) Where your heart is; the story of Harvey Dunn, artist. Aberdeen, S.D: North Plains Press.
Oversize ND237.D79 K3
Karolevitz, R. F. (1998) Yankton--the way it was! : being a collection of historical columns. 1st ed. Yankton, S.D: Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan.
Oversize F659.Y25 K375 1998
Karolevitz, R. F. (2003) Yankton College : a continuing story. Mission Hill, S.D: Dakota Homested Publishers.
LD6371.Y32 K37 2003
Karolevitz, R. F. (1970) Old-time agriculture in the ads: being a compendium of magazine and newspaper sales literature, reminiscent of the days when farming was a way of life, and horsepower came in horses. Aberdeen, S.D: North Plains Press.
HF61+61.A3 K3o
Karolevitz, R. F. (1993) An historic sampler of Davison County. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Co.
F657.D25 K37 1993
Karolevitz, R. F. (1986) Yesterday’s motorcycles. Mission Hill, SD: Homestead Publishers.
TL440.K436 1986
Karolevitz, R. F. (1984) Kemper Freeman, Sr., and the Bellevue story. Mission Hill, S.D: Homestead Publishers.
F899.B39 F745 1984
Karolevitz, R. F. (1967) Doctors of the Old West : a pictorial history of medicine on the frontier. [1st ed.]. Seattle: Superior Pub. Co.
Karolevitz, R. F. (1975) Challenge : the South Dakota story. Sioux Falls, S.D: Brevet Press.
Karolevitz, R. F. (1980) Paper mountain : the story of Frank Osgood Butler, 1861-1955. Brookings, S.D: F. O. Butler Foundation.
HD9830.B87 K37
Karolevitz, R. F. (1993) They always called him coach : a biography of Carl Ivan Youngworth. Mission Hill, S.D: Dakota Homestead Publishers.
GV697.Y68 K37 1993
Karolevitz, R. F. (1968) ‘E. G.,’ inventor by necessity; the story of E. G. Melroe and the Melroe Company. Aberdeen, S.D: North Plains Press.
HD9486.N9 M4
Karolevitz, R. F. (1980) Bishop Martin Marty, ‘the black robe lean chief’. Yankton, S.D: Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Convent.
E99.D1 M395
Karolevitz, R. F. (1972) Yankton: a pioneer past. Aberdeen, S.D: North Plains Press.
F659.Y25 K37
Karolevitz, R. F. (1966) This was trucking; a pictorial history of the first quarter century of commercial motor vehicles. [1st ed.]. Seattle: Superior Pub. Co.
Karolevitz, R. F. (1965) Newspapering in the Old West; a pictorial history of journalism and printing on the frontier. [1st ed.]. Seattle: Superior Pub. Co.
Karolevitz, R. F. (1969) The prairie is my garden; the story of Harvey Dunn, artist. Aberdeen, S.D: North Plains Press.
ND237.D79 K3p
Karolevitz, R. F. (1991) The golfer’s good book. Mission Hill, S.D: Dakota Homestead Publishers.
GV9667.K29 1991
Karolevitz, R. F. (1973) Old-time autos in the ads. Yankton, S.D: Homestead Publishers.
HF6161.A8 K3
Karolevitz, R. F. (1968) This was pioneer motoring : an album of nostalgic automemorabilia. 1st ed. Seattle: Superior Pub. Co.
TL15.K27 1968
Karolevitz, R. F. (1985) Toulouse the goose and other ridiculous stories : a collection of columns. Yankton, S.D: Missouri Valley Observer.
PN6162.K53 1985
Karolevitz, R. F. (1983) Douglas County : ‘the little giant’. Armour, S.D: Douglas County Historical Society.
F657.D7 K37 1983
Karolevitz, R. F. & Hunhoff, B. (1988) Uniquely South Dakota. Norfolk, Va: Donning Co.
Oversize F652.K37 1988
Karolevitz, R. F. (1982) With a shirt tail full of type: the story of newspapering in South Dakota. Freeman: South Dakota Press Association.
PN4897.S8 K37
Karolevitz, R. F. & Fenn, R. S. (1974) Flight of eagles : the story of the American Kościuszko Squadron in the Polish-Russian War 1919-1920. Sioux Falls, S.D: Brevet Press.
Karolevitz, R. F. (1983) Tears in my horseradish : being a collection of columns. Gayville, S.D: Observer.
PN6162.K35 1983
Karolevitz, R. F. (1989) With faith, hope and tenacity : the first one hundred years of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, 1889-1989. Mission Hill, S.D: Dakota Homestead Publishers.
BX1415.S8 K37 1989
Karolevitz, R. F. (1993) A century of love : the first 100 years of the Children’s Home Society of South Dakota, 1893-1993. Mission Hills, S.D: Dakota Homestead Publishers for the Children’s Home Foundation.
HV990.S732 C455 1993

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MA 39

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