A Collaborative Project Between Community Members and Drake University Students

Otto Knauth


Otto Knauth

My name is Otto Knauth and I’m a reporter for the Des Moines Register.  I have written many articles about conservation causes and projects in Iowa. I was born in Germany in 1916 to American parents and came to Untied states at the age of about a year. I  spent my boy hood in the village of Pleasntdale right outside New York and in 1930 my family returned to Europe where I attended high school and eventually finished school in Berlin in 1936. I returned to the United states in 1938 and attended the University of Illinois for a year and then got a job on the the Saint Joseph’s Caset in Saint Joseph Missouri. I returned there after WW2 and in 1948 I got a job on the Des Moines register and my family moved to Des Moines. I have been with the Register ever since. I Started as a copy editor and later I was assistant city editor then switched over to recording. I have been a science editor and report, since 1963. I have always been interested in the outdoors and every since I came to Des Moines I have taken long walks out in the country, along the rivers. I have a canoe, and have canoed almost all the rivers in Iowa.  My love for the outdoors just naturally spread over into my work at the register. At the time there was nobody on the paper that was doing this sort of thing. I felt that it needed filling.

Coldwater Cave


  1. Laura Gann

    1. Check grammar/spelling: There are a lot of easy fixes to make. (look at your title too) Also, all of your pages are in one of the main pages, not sure if that is what you intended, so something to check.
    2. Make sure to continue to add pictures and splice up the text like you have been doing in the first few pages and add any more if needed
    3. Work on sentence structure to avoid never ending ideas or a bunch of short phrases. Maybe add the theme or take away in the introduction to show the purpose of the work

    1. You have a lot of good information, very detailed! Maybe just go through it to emphasize the main themes like you did with the first few pages
    2. The pictures you choose are really good

  2. Jacqueline Heymann

    • I like the personalized pictures that you were able to add in.
    • You incorporate in a lot of little details that help the reader picture what is going on.
    • Your interview produced a lot of great material!
    • Go through and read the entire oral history out loud to ensure that your sentence structure makes sense and no sentences are too long.
    • In the section “becoming part of the cave exploration”, you mention Steve before your formally introduce him. Make sure that you give context to the characters before you talk about them.
    • Proofread your titles, specifically for capitalizing consistency

  3. Lourdes Gutierrez Najera

    Shannon, you’ve done a nice job compiling Otto’s oral history. I love the images and video you’ve been able to locate. It makes a welcome addition to the oral history. In terms of revision, I suggest the following 1) Clean up your prose as best as you can throughout the text. (I think I had made edits to your prose but don’t see them incorporated into the text. Look through the copies I gave you, I had corrected some spelling and grammatical mistakes) 2) In the last few sections you have long paragraphs of text. Consider breaking up the text with quote boxes or images to help break the monotony of long text. 3) eliminate all instances of “…” in your text. No need for that here since you are not quoting from transcripts and it is understood that you have modified the text to make it your own (I think I made this comment in your draft also).

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