65.81 linear feet (58 boxes) sound recordings, photographs
Freelance author and humorist. Articles, manuscripts, columns, commercial writing, political ghostwriting, speeches, clippings, photographs, professional and personal correspondence, and research files relating either directly to books or material of interest.
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).
The papers of Robert F. Karolevitz (1922-) span the years 1833-2005, with the bulk of the material dating from 1910-1999. Included are personal files, professional files, research files, and photographs.
SDSU Archives and Special Collections
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South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, Brookings, South Dakota.
Copyright restrictions apply in different ways to different materials. Many of the documents and other historical materials in the Archives are in the public domain and may be reproduced and used in any way. There are other materials in the Archive carrying a copyright interest and must be used according to the provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. The Archive issues a warning concerning copyright restrictions to every researcher who requests copies of documents. Although the copyright law is under constant redefinition in the courts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the researcher to properly use copyrighted material.
SDSU Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, "Robert F. Karolevitz Papers" (2018). Manuscript Archive. 28.