Catherine Baker Knoll Papers and Photographs
linear feet (10 boxes)
Catherine Baker Knoll (CBK) was involved in Pennsylvania state politics for nearly 40 years, serving two terms each as state treasurer (1989-1997) and lieutenant governor (2003-2008). The Catherine Baker Knoll Papers and Photographs primarily contain records created while she held office as treasurer and as lieutenant governor. These materials include committee and initiative reports, memorandum and correspondence from the office of the lieutenant governor, campaign contribution and finance reports, budget and commission reports from the state treasurer’s office, and transcripts of speeches CBK made. A variety of photographs and film footage depict CBK at government functions and community events. There are also CBK memorial materials following her death in 2008, Baker-Knoll family reunion booklets, and May family papers. The Catherine Baker Knoll Papers and Photographs are housed in 10 boxes and have been separated into three groups: I. Public Office; II. Media; III. Personal and Family.
The material in this collection is in English.
Senator John Heinz History Center
Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
This collection has been made accessible as part of an NHPRC-funded Basic Processing grant.
The guide to this collection was written by
Alex J. Toner.
Catherine Baker Knoll (CBK) was born in 1930 on School Street in McKees Rocks, Pa., one of nine children of Nicholas Baker and Theresa May Baker. Catherine was exposed to local politics at an early age while her father served as Mayor of Mckees Rocks. She graduated in 1948 from St. Mary’s School, attended nursing school, and in 1950 enrolled in Duquesne University to study education. A month before graduating from Duquesne, CBK married Charles A. Knoll Sr. in May of 1952. Charles A. Knoll Sr. (b.1913) was the owner of Knoll’s Hotel and Restaurant and in 1960 was appointed postmaster of McKees Rocks. He and CBK had five children: Charles Jr., John, Mina, Albert, and Kim. Charles A. Knoll Sr. died in 1987.
Prior to embarking on her elected career in public office, CBK served as a substitute school teacher and managed the Knoll hotel during the 1950s. She earned a masters degree from Duquesne University, and studied at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout her entire life she was involved with numerous community groups such as the YMCA, NAACP, and the Boys and Girls Club.
Catherine Baker Knoll gained early experience in Pennsylvania politics as a member of the Democratic State Committee during the 1960s. Her political career began in earnest in 1970, with her appointment to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Bureau of Motor Vehicles as hearing examiner. She ultimately worked her way to western regional director of PennDOT’s Pittsburgh office during the 1970s. After unsuccessful bids in 1976 and 1984, CBK was elected Pennsylvania State Treasurer in 1988. Seeking reelection in 1992, she won 65% of votes cast totaling 2.83 million, the largest number of votes ever received by a Pennsylvania Democrat. Knowing term limits prevented her from running for a third term as state treasurer in 1996, CBK ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1994, finishing third among seven candidates in primary voting.
CBK served as Chair of the Pennsylvania Delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1996, and was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Board of The Federal Home Loan Bank in 1999. In 2000 she lost another election bid for the state treasurer’s office. Undeterred, she entered the race for lieutenant governor in 2002, defeated nine men in the primary election, won the general election, and became the first female lieutenant governor in the history of the state. She won reelection again in 2006. In 2008, Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer, and passed away the same year.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Catherine Baker Knoll Papers and Photographs contain records created while she held office as the Pennsylvania State Treasurer and later as lieutenant governor. There are also Baker-Knoll family reunion materials, as well as the family papers of Agnes May, CBK’s aunt. CBK’s public office materials include programs and initiative reports, memorandum and correspondence from the office of the lieutenant governor, campaign contribution and finance reports, budget and commission reports from the state treasurer’s office, and transcripts of speeches CBK made. A variety of images depict CBK at government-sponsored functions and community events. Film footage, primarily from CBK’s time as lieutenant governor depicts her at inaugurations, public events, and delivering speeches. There are scrapbook materials which document her career, family reunion booklets, and Agnes May estate papers from McKees Rocks. Several oversized materials consist of a large portrait of CBK as lieutenant governor a smaller photograph of her with an unidentified clergyman, several state treasurer campaign signs, and a May family photograph album.
The Catherine Baker Knoll Papers and Photographs are housed in 10 boxes and have been separated into three groups: I. Public Office; II. Media; III. Personal and Family.
SeriesI. Public Office, boxes 1-3 (1994-2008)
Box one contains a variety of materials created during CBK’s time as state treasurer and lieutenant governor. There are campaign literature and inauguration programs (2007-2008), campaign contributions and finance reports from 1994, 1997, and 2002, memorandum and letters to and from the lieutenant governor’s office with other officials and constituents. There are commission and committee reports, such as the Board of Pardons on which CBK served as chairwoman, and a summary of treasury programs from 1989-1997. Also included are signature books from 2003-2006.
Boxes two and three contain transcripts of speeches that CBK made. Box two mostly consists of speeches made in 2005, while box three runs from 2006 through 2008. These speeches were given at ceremonial and public events, like the inauguration of Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed in 2005, or during Polish Day at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh in 2006.
Series II. Media, boxes 4-8 (1992-2009)
The media materials are comprised of photographs, film footage on VHS tapes and DVDS, and print publications. Box four contains images of CBK with other elected officials, at her swearing in ceremony in 2007, with Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and at other public and civic events.
Boxes five through seven contain 30 moving image materials on VHS tapes and DVDs. They primarily depict CBK at inauguration ceremonies and various public events. A detailed description can be found in the inventory listed below.
Box eight contains assorted event and location programs, such as 2006 Pennsylvania Capitol Centennial Preservation literature, and 2007 inauguration information.
Series III. Personal and Family, boxes 9-10 (c1940-2008)
Boxes nine and ten contain materials relating to CBK and her family and relatives, the Baker-Knoll and May families. Box nine contains scrapbook materials documenting CBK and her career, memorial and condolence materials following her death in 2008, St. Mary Help of Christian Church programs, and family reunion booklets from 1986, 1987, 2004, and 2007. Box ten contains Agnes May estate papers mainly containing utility records and property details concerning their estate in McKees Rocks. There is also a wrapped May family photograph album with the collection.
Additionally, there are several oversized items including a portrait of Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll, a smaller picture of her with an unidentified clergyman, and two state treasurer campaign signs.
The Catherine Baker Knoll Papers and Photographs consist of 10 boxes arranged in three groups.
- I. Public Office, boxes 1-3
- II. Media, boxes 4-8
- III. Personal and Family, boxes 9-10
Controlled Access Terms
- Baker Knoll, Catherine.
- May family.
- Baker family.
- Knoll family.
- Pennsylvania--Lieutenant Governor.
- Pennsylvania--State Treasurer.
- Campaign Literature.
- Family Reunions.
- Public Speaking.
- Pittsburgh (Pa.)
- McKees Rocks (Pa.)
- Harrisburg (Pa.)
Access and Use
Gift from Mina Baker Knoll in 2010.
Archives accession # 2010.0267
Catherine Baker Knoll Papers and Photographs, 1940-2008, MSS 0766 , Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center
Preliminary processing by Alex J. Toner on 04/09/12. A preliminary inventory was created by library and archives staff in 2010.
Property rights reside with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center.
The Pennsylvania State Archives, within the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, maintains some of Catherine Baker Knoll’s records created during her time in office:
Record Group 64, Records of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
Record Group 28, Records of the Treasury Department.
The museum maintains a number of artifacts associated with the Catherine Baker Knoll Papers and Photographs.