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Manuscript Collection

Collection Title: Clayton Knight Papers

Collection Number: DG0559

Inclusive Dates: 1938-1968

Volume: .60 cu. ft. (1 box)

Provenance : Materials donated by Clayton Knight in 1968 and 1969.

Copyright: The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code).  Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research."  It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials, other than that noted above.

Biographical Sketch:

Clayton Knight was born in Rochester, New York, on March 30, 1891, to Frederick Clayton and Elizabeth (Brooks) Knight.  He attended the Art Institute of Chicago from 1910 to 1913, and served in the Royal Air Force as a pilot during World War I. In 1918, he was shot down over German territory and survived as a prisoner of war. Knight also served as a special correspondent for the Associated Press in England and Iceland during World War II in 1942 and a combat historian with the U.S. Air Force in Alaska, the Aleutians, and the Central Pacific in 1943-45.

Knight's artistic specialty was aviation illustration, and he became known for his art in various publications in the early part of the twentieth century, including The New Yorker. He and Eddie Rickenbacker were the creators of two notable comic strips depicting aviation for King Features Syndicate in the 1930s, Ace Drummond (1933-39) and Hall of Fame of the Air (1933-39).

In 1922, he married Katharine Sturges Dodge, an artist and writer, with whom he later collaborated with on books for children. Together, the couple worked on several books for the We Were There series and illustrated other titles for the P.F. Volland Publishing Company. Clayton and Katharine had two sons, Clayton Joseph Knight and Hilary Knight, who was a children's book author and illustrator famous for the Eloise books. 

Clayton Knight died on July 17, 1969.



Contemporary Authors: Permanent Series, ed. Clare D. Kinsman (Detroit: Gale Research, 1975), 1:352-353.

Scope and Content:

The Clayton Knight Papers contain two illustrations and two letters created by Clayton Knight between 1938 and 1968.  His papers were created from his illustration of the Sunday comic strip Hall of Fame of the Air, his composition of the book Skyroad to Mystery, and his sending of two letters to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. The material is organized into three series: Hall of Fame of the Air, Skyroad to Mystery, and Letters Sent.

The first illustration is a watercolor illustration for the King Features Syndicate Sunday comic strip Hall of Fame of the Air that Knight drew in consultation with Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. This particular strip spotlighted Grady Touchstone, a Hattiesburg, MS native and pilot in the First World War, and was drawn for publication on November 20, 1938. The second illustration is an ink drawing for page 99 of Knight's self-written and self-illustrated children's book, Skyroad to Mystery (1949). Finally, the two letters sent to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection in 1966 and 1968 were photocopied from the correspondence file of the de Grummond Collection because they provide information on the creation and content of the two illustrations.

Series and Subseries:

A. Hall of Fame of the Air (1938)

B. Skyroad to Mystery (1949)

C. Letters Sent (1966-1968)

Box Inventory


A. Hall of Fame of the Air by Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker and Clayton Knight (King Features Syndicate, 20 November 1938).


"Grady Touchstone," watercolor illustration for complete Sunday comic strip, November 1938, 1 item


B. Skyroad to Mystery written and illustrated by Clayton Knight (New York: Knopf, 1949).


Matted ink illustration for p. 99, 1 item


C. Letters Sent


Photocopies of letters sent to Lena de Grummond, May 1966-February 1968, 2 items


Processed by Hans Rasmussen, June 2003; Revised August 2017 

This finding aid is the product of a grant funded  by the National  Endowment for the Humanities.


Created by: Hans Rasmussen & Danielle Bishop Stoulig
Prepared and maintained by
University of Southern Mississippi Libraries de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
118 College Drive #5148   Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001

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Revised: April 20, 2016