Papers of Curtis Wray Besinger
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
- Besinger, Curtis (Person)
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:
- Private architectural practice
- Taliesin Fellowship
- Miscellaneous maps and plans
- Printed books, periodicals, etc.
- Materials donated by others
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.
- 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>
- Finding aid permalink
- Preferred citation
Papers of Curtis Wray Besinger, Department of Special Collections, MS 241, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas