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Papers of Curtis Wray Besinger

Call Number: MS 241


The Curtis Besinger collection is made up of correspondence, papers, photographs, plans, and printed books and periodicals reflecting Besinger's life as a University of Kansas graduate, Taliesin Fellow under Frank Lloyd Wright's tutelage, WWII conscientious objector, KU architecture professor, author of Working with Mr. Wright: What It Was Like, and architect.


  • 1931 - 1999


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Curtis Wray Besinger

Curtis Wray Besinger was born in Stanberry, Missouri on June 12, 1914. He received his Bachelor of Science in architecture at the University of Kansas in 1936 and spent three years working with Joseph Radotinsky and other architects in Kansas City.

Besinger joined Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin Fellowship in 1939. As a Junior Apprentice he worked on construction projects, participated in musical programs, directed the chorus, and assisted in the drafting room. During World War II, as a conscientious objector, he spent three years working on federal reclamation, wildlife and forestry-service projects in the Midwest and West in lieu of military service. Returning to Taliesin in 1946 as a Senior Apprentice, he worked on 37 projects and was for a period third in command.

After 16 years as a Taliesin Fellow, Besinger left the Fellowship in 1955. His 1995 book, Working with Mr. Wright: What It Was Like, draws heavily on the correspondence in both this collection and the Library's Frank Lloyd Wright collection.

Joining the KU faculty, Besinger taught architecture for 29 years, attaining full professorship in 1965. He was technical editor of House Beautiful in 1956-1957 and architectural consultant in 1957-1965. He also had an architectural practice, partly in association with Fritz (Fredric) and Fabi Benedict in Aspen, CO.

Curtis Wray Besinger died in Lawrence, Kansas on December 12, 1999.


20.75 Linear Feet (42 document cases + 70 oversize folders, 1 oversize box)

Scope and Contents

Correspondence in the collection includes incoming and outgoing letters from Frederick and Fabi Benedict, Gordon Chadwick, John Geiger (72 letters), Elizabeth Gordon, John and Lu Howe, Eugene Masselink (29 letters), Edgar Tafel, Marcus Weston, and Frank and Olgivanna Wright.

The Personal series includes subseries for documents of record; journals; papers relating to Curtis Besinger's service as a conscientious objector; Japanese culture and architecture; and publications, including manuscripts and correspondence and material related to Besinger's work with House Beautiful.

The private architectural practice series includes correspondence, sketches, and plans, as does the Taliesin Fellowship series. The Fellowship series also includes materials related to Besinger's book Working with Mr. Wright and lists of membership in the Fellowship.

Besinger's teaching materials include memoranda, announcements, etc.; lecture notes and class lists; and faculty annual reports from teaching at the University of Kansas in the School of Architecture.

Photographs include items from the book Working with Mr. Wright, as well as miscellaneous photographs of the Taliesin Fellowship. Miscellaneous maps and plans include unidentified architectural plans by Besinger, plans by other firms and architects, and manuscript topographic maps.

Materials donated by other individuals or later transferred from the KU School of Architecture are in their own series and organized by donor. These materials include correspondence with Besinger, publications, and additional architectural drawings and related items from Besinger's work. While the bulk of the collection is located at MS 241, these items are located at MS 348. Oversize materials for the collection are at MS Qa27, MS S10, and MS S11.


The collection is organized in 10 series:

  1. Correspondence
  2. Personal
  3. Private architectural practice
  4. Taliesin Fellowship
  5. Teaching
  6. Photographs
  7. Miscellaneous maps and plans
  8. Printed books, periodicals, etc.
  9. Miscellaneous
  10. Materials donated by others

Physical Location

MS 241

Physical Location

MS S10

Physical Location

MS 348

Physical Location

MS Qa27

Physical Location

MS S11

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Curtis Besinger; Conrad M. Henderson, 2013; Paul Krieger, 2018; Louis G. Alley, 2018. Transfer, University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design via Steve Padgett, 2014.

Related Materials

Additional printed materials regarding Frank Lloyd Wright are available at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library and are searchable through the online catalog, as well as two manuscript collections also listed here.

Correspondence and papers concerning the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Special Collections, MS 132, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Correspondence of George M. Beal and Helen R. Beal with other Taliesin Fellows, Special Collections, MS 133, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Personal papers of George Malcolm Beal, University Archives, PP 179, Kenneth Spencer Research Library

University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Design Records - Curtis Besinger's History of the Architecture School, RG 18/0/3, University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library


  • Besinger, Curtis.Working With Mr. Wright: What it Was Like Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995
Guide to the Curtis Besinger Collection
Papers of Curtis Wray Besinger
Finding aid prepared by sy, 2005; revised by hc, 2014. Finding aid encoded by sy, 2005; revised by hc, 2014.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in<language encodinganalog="language">English</language>
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Preferred citation
Papers of Curtis Wray Besinger, Department of Special Collections, MS 241, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States