F.C.W. Kuehn Papers

Identity elements

Reference code

MA 004

Name and location of repository

Level of description



F.C.W. Kuehn Papers


  • 1883-1970 (Creation)


  • 1.05 linear feet (2 document cases, 1 oversize box)

Name of creator


Biographical history

Frank Charles William Kuehn was born on September 4, 1884 in LeMars, Iowa. His family moved to Dakota Territory when he was 7 months old. They settled on a claim in Jackson Township, Sanborn County, Dakota Territory on March 1, 1885. The family lived in a sod shanty amid an extended family of Kuehn's grandfather and the brothers and sisters of Elizabeth and Frank Theodore Kuehn, Kuehn's parents. On March 1, 1903, the family moved northwest 18 miles to Huron, South Dakota, which continued to be Kuehn's home for the next 67 years. Kuehn married Amelia Johanna Wagner on June 3, 1914. They had three daughters; Jeannette, Lois and Margaret. In October 1950, Amelia died of a heart attack. Kuehn remarried on August 15, 1954 to Florence Dokken Hanson. / Before the age of 21, Kuehn knew he wanted to be an architect. He registered for classes with the International Correspondence Schools in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In 1907, he began working in the office of Huron architect, George Issenhuth. He continued to work for Mr. Issenhuth throughout all of 1908 and 1909 while he continued his studies with the correspondence school. / On September 9, 1909, Kuehn opened his own office in Huron, SD. He established himself as an architect of schools with a plan submitted for a two-story brick school for Frankfort, SD. With this school, a good example of Prairie-School Style of architecture, Kuehn began a long association with the State Department of Public Instruction, which lasted for 41 years. / In 1918, Kuehn began writing insurance to supplement his income, possibly a result of World War I, which caused a decline of building in SD. He would continue to write insurance in addition to being an architect to the end of his life. In the early 1920s, Kuehn planned a number of homes and several impressive buildings for downtown Huron. He also began drawing county maps for SD, ND, and MN. In the 1930s, he began producing blueprints and created the Huron Blue Print Co. This helped provide for his family during the Depression. He also worked for Home Owners Loan Corp., inspecting homes for financing and writing reports. In the 1940s, Kuehn began to be recognized outside of SD for his Standard Rural School Plans. / During the 1950s, Kuehn worked almost exclusively on his growing county map business. In the 1960s, he expanded to include highway maps for Minnesota counties. He also combined SD, ND, and MN. County maps into books, which sold well. / Kuehn died following an illness in 1970. He had designed and built many projects; too numerous to mention. For more information see F.C.W. Kuehn Prairie Architect which was written by his daughters in 1984. This details his life as an architect and notes many of the projects he worked on throughout his career.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

Composed of architectural drawings by F.W.C. Kuehn created for various projects. Included are rural school plans and county highway maps designed by Kuehn as well as bids and plans for projects.

The architectural drawings include work from both Kuehn's years enrolled in the International Correspondence Schools and his career as an architect.

The general items are composed of miscellaneous items related to Kuehn.

The random specifications are composed of construction specifications for projects Kuehn worked on.

System of arrangement

This collection is arranged into three series:

  • Series 1. Architectural drawings
  • Series 2. General material
  • Series 3. Random specifications

Materials within each series are arranged in alphabetical order with the exception of the architectural drawing, which are arranged by type of material.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Open. Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only. Researchers conducting extensive research are asked to make an advance appointment to access archival material. Please call or e-mail prior to visiting the collection and indicate as much detail as possible about a particular topic and intended use.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

South Dakota State University supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted as a result of their fragile condition or by contractual agreements with donors.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

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Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

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Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Kinyon, Jeannette, with Lois Johnson, Margaret Voels, and Harry E. Voels, Prairie architect: F.C.W. Kuehn, his life and work, Sioux Falls, SD, The Center for western Studies, c1984. Call number: SD Collection: NA 737.K72 K5

Related descriptions

Notes element

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)




MA 4

Description control element

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Accession area