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Windmill Books and Robert Kraus Papers

Identifier: CLRC-695

Scope and Contents

The Windmill Books and Robert Kraus Papers contain written material pertaining to Robert Kraus's work as an author, illustrator and publisher of works for children. It also contains correspondence, both with the artists and authors Kraus worked with in his role as publisher, as well as those he correspondend with in regards to his own works. There is also a large amount of business and legal material, mostly associated with Windmill Books.


  • 1950 - 1995


Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). 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. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Author, illustrator, and publisher Herman Robert Kraus was born June 21, 1925, in Milwaukee WI. He sold his first drawing at the age of 11, when he had the idea to make a drawing based on the tune 'shave and a hair cut, two bits' and took it door-to-door to barber shops until he sold it. Kraus began selling to national magazines such as Esquire, and The Saturday Evening Post as a teenager of 16 and 17 years old. As he mailed in his work, the editors had no idea he was so young. He graduated high school as an honor student at 16, but rather than go to college and on to law school as his mother hoped, he hitch hiked across the country then went to art school first in Milwaukee then in New York City (the Arts Students League).

Kraus had wanted to become a fine artist, but saw cartooning as a way to support himself and his new wife in New York City. One day while he and his wife, Pamela, who also was an artist, were in waiting for an assembly to begin at the League a discussion arose about how impossible it was to get published in The New Yorker. Kraus said to the group that he could get in in two years. Afterward his wife asked him how he could say something like that so publicly. His response? Well, he could. As it turned out it took him only about 7 months, after which he became a regular contributor.

After 15 years of this he decided to try something new: writing and illustrating children's books full time. In 1965 he established Windmill Books, which specialized in children's picture books and functioned in partnerships with large publishing houses. Some of Kraus's most well known works include "The Trouble with Spider", "Whose Mouse are You?", and "Leo the Late Bloomer". Kraus died August 7, 2001.

(Biographical Sources: Pamela Kraus, Bill Kraus, "Something About the Author", vols. 4, 65, 93, 130, and "Something About the Author Autobiography Series", vol. 11.)


21.60 Cubic Feet (15 record cartons, 4 flat boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection contains art, manuscript and production materials for books authored or illustrated by Robert Kraus, as well records pertaining to Windmill Books, personal papers and photographs.


Materials are arranged in two series: Windmill Records, and Publications and Personal Papers. Publications and Personal Papers includes art, manuscript, and production materials arranged by published title, then chronologically within each title. Windmill Records are arranged by type and date.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Robert Kraus.

Windmill Books and Robert Kraus Papers, 1950-1995
Kristell Benson
June 5, 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Children's Literature Research Collections Collecting Area

Suite 113, Elmer L. Andersen Library