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Manuscript Group 281
SAMUEL W. KUHNERT PAPERS
[1897-1976]
30 cu. ft.

Samuel W. Kuhnert (b. 1890 - d. 1978) was born in Steelton and grew up on a farm near Halifax. He operated a photography processing business from his home in Camp Hill, and later on North Third Street in Harrisburg. Having a special interest in aviation, in 1919 he became interested in aerial photography and began building a small airplane powered by a motocycle engine. Unable to get this machine to fly, he took his first aerial photographs of Harrisburg on June 7, 1920 from a Curtiss "Jenny" biplane. In 1921 he bought some government surplus aviation equipment including a two-cylinder 30hp Lawrence engine and finally succeeded in building a wire-braced monoplane, his third effort, that finally flew. During the succeeding two decades he made and sold oblique aerial views of towns and landscapes in central Pennsylvania while his brother, Walter Kuhnert, distinguished himself as a balloonist. Samuel Kuhnert's last flight at the age of eighty-six is well documented by photographs in this collection. Following his death, Samuel Kuhnert's children donated his photographs to the State Archives and gave his flight suit and aerial cameras to the State Museum of Pennsylvania.

The collection consists of over 6,000 photographic prints and negatives, motion picture films, miscellaneous business and personal records, and newspaper clippings. Special subjects include the 1936 flood in the Harrisburg region, a 1932 snowstorm in Camp Hill, the destruction of the Last Raft at Muncy, various airplane crashes, automobile accidents, natural disasters, autopsies, and funerals. There are also a large number of professional and family portraits and depictions of local buildings and structures. Communities for which aerial views will be found include Amity Hall, Andersonburg, Bloomsburg, Boiling Springs, Brookville, Camp Hill, Carlisle, Chambersburg, Clarks Valley, Dauphin, Duncannon, Elizabethtown, Emmitsburg, Enola, Gettysburg, Good Hope, Hagerstown, Halifax, Hanover, Harrisburg, Hershey, Hummesltown, Fort Indiantown Gap, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lemoyne, Lewisburg Federal Prison, Lewistown Mountains, Liverpool, Marysville, Mechanicsburg, Middletown, Milroy, Milton, Mount Gretna, Mount Pleasant, Mount Zion, New Berlin, New Bloomfield, New Cumberland, Perdix, Rockville, Powell's Valley, Safe Harbor, Selinsgrove, Shippensburg, Shiremanstown, State College, Summerdale, Sunbury, Wellsville, Wertzville, Williamsport, and York.

Among the aircraft depicted are the American Eagle Eaglet, Barling NL-1 triplane bomber, Bellanca WB-2 monoplane, Bellanca TES Chicago "Blue Streak," Boeing P-12 biplane, Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" bomber, Pitcairn-Cierva PCA-2 Autogyro, Cox-Klemin XA-1 hospital biplane, Curtiss-Wright Condor biplane bomber, Curtiss 5N Amphibian biplane bomber, Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" biplane, De Haviland DH-4B biplane, Douglas DC-3, Fokker C-2 trimotor, Fokker D-7 biplane, Ford 5-AT trimotor, Kreider-Reisner Challenger biplane, Lockheed Vega monoplane, Loening Amphibian biplane, Mono Aircraft Monocoupe, New Standard D-25 J6 biplane, Vought VE-7 biplane, and Waco 9 biplane. Among the balloons and dirigibles depicted are Walter Kuhnert's hot air balloon, the Goodyear Mayflower blimp, the Goodyear Vigilant blimp, the Graf Zeppelin dirigible, the Hindenburg dirigible, and the Navy dirigibles ZR-1 and ZR-2. Pilots, parachutists, and aviation mechanics depicted include Johnny Abiuso, Johnny Betz, Andy Body, Pat Brooke, Paul Charles, Dick Cooper, Alton Eaton, Tim Fink, Walter Hallowell, Raymond Aldridge Hartman, Martin Jenson, Jesse Jones, "Colonel" Herbert Julian, Samuel Kuhnert, Walter Kuhnert, Billy Leonard, Charles Lindburgh, Shennon Lutz, Jimmy Mattern, John McFarlane, Hany McGee, Fred "Shorty" Nelson, Charles Oberdorf, Paul Setizinger, Walter Shaefer, Murray Shuman, George "Jack" Spaid, and Paul Strickler.

Among the business and personal records are greeting cards that Kuhnert manufactured, [ca.1940s]; poetry Kuhnert wrote, [undated]; business envelopes and stationery, [undated]; business cards, fliers, and a calendar, 1909, 1930s, 1944, and [undated]; sheet music Kuhnert photographed, [undated]; fliers and program on the Gospel Herald Society, [undated]; business correspondence 1923-1976; miscellaneous business papers, 1923-1948; business receipts, 1921-1923; a binder with business photographs, envelopes, fliers, letters, and receipts, ca. 1930s; personal correspondence, 1929-1972; published or printed reference materials, including camera, flash, and chemical manuals; airplane motor oil log, (blank) [undated]; Popular Mechanics, [undated]; and flying instructions for Penn-Harris airport. Newspaper clippings concern Harrisburg events, airplane crashes, world events, the Silver Wings Fraternity, photography, published Kuhnert Photographs, obituaries, studio ads, the Harry Ganster murder, dirigibles, the Walter Kuhnert balloon, Charles Lindbergh at Harrisburg Airport (Capitol City) in 1930, Kuhnert and Potteiger aerial show ads, program of the Harrisburg airport aerial circus, and various accidents and disasters. The collection is housed in fifty-nine boxes and five cartons of which five cartons and nineteen boxes are unprocessed Cellulose Nitrate, Cellulose Acetate, Cellulose Diacetate and Cellulose Triacetate Negatives.


PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Finding Aids for Collections Land Records