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329 West 18th Street Suite #610
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 243-1808

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Otto E. Wagenknecht Collection

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Collection Identifier: C.2019-11
Preservation Sponsor: Laurel Cox
Extent of collection
23 reels of 8mm film totaling approximately 2,600 feet; 1 Quixet Magnetic Titling set
Inclusive Dates
1941 - 1955
The Otto E. Wagenknect Collection consists of 8mm films shot by Otto between the years 1941 and 1955 while a resident of the Wildwood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. Many of the films feature his then-wife Mary Theml Wagenknecht and his daughter Karin Wagenknecht (Cox) at home and during their travels. Many reels feature home-made titles which Otto created with his Quixet Magnetic Titling Set.
Wagenknecht, Otto E. (was created by)
Otto Emanuel Wagenknecht was born in 1903. He grew up in Vienna, Austria and graduated from the University of Vienna. In 1927, Otto married Mary Theml, and they emigrated from Austria to Chicago, IL in 1928. After residing in several apartments in the Chicago area, they eventually built a home in the Wildwood neighborhood of Chicago at 6780 Jean Avenue. There, they bore one child, Karin Marie Ann Josephine Wagenknecht [m. Cox], born on October 18, 1941.

Otto worked for Zenith Radio Co. from 1937 to 1967 as Chief Mechanical Engineer. As part of his work for Zenith, he patented several designs for the station finder on a car radio. In 1959, he and Mary Theml divorced. He lived with his second wife Emily Potus at 909 Raleigh Road in Glenview, IL for many years before retiring in 1967 to Sarasota, Florida. He died there in 1977, after living with Parkinson’s Disease for several years.

Throughout his life, Otto kept close ties with his native Austria. He returned repeatedly for visits, and his mother “Poldi” and his sister Karla visited the U.S. several times as well. He was an avid photographer, documenting these trips and other trips in the 1940s and 1950s, with numerous photos and 8mm film reels.
Custodial History
All 23 film reels, the cardboard list, his Quixet Magnetic Titling Set, and a copy of this log was donated to CFA in 2019 by David, Steven, and Laurel Cox (grandchildren of Otto E. Wagenknecht).
Language of Materials
Access Restrictions
This collection is open to on-site access. Appointments must be made with Chicago Film Archives. Due to the fragile nature of the films, only video copies will be provided for on-site viewing.
Use Restrictions
Chicago Film Archives holds the copyright for the films in this collection. For additional materials published by others, any determination of copyright status for reproduction is the responsibility of the user.
1942-46: Parties
1946, 1947, 1950: Travels—Florida
1949: Travel 2—Birch Island Lodge
1941-42: Karin—as baby
1941-42: Xmas