Held by The Filson Historical Society
Creator: Norman Kohlhepp, 1892-1986
Titles: Papers, 1908-1983.
Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, see the Curator of Special Collections.
Size of Collection: 1 cubic foot
Locator Number: Mss./A/K79
Norman Kohlhepp was born in Louisville, Kentucky and attended Manual High School, graduating as a member of the class of 1910. For college, he went to the University of Cincinnati and earned a five year degree in metallurgical engineering. Kohlhepp then entered the workforce, working in Boston as a salesman for the General Fireproofing Company, which sold metal office furniture.
In 1917, Kohlhepp traveled to France, enlisted in the French Army, and served in the “Reserve Mallet” in World War I – a transport unit that was created as part of the French Army but later became part of the United States Army’s Transport Service. In this unit, he delivered supplies to the front lines and was involved in several major campaigns. He was promoted to first lieutenant, and also trained other mechanics during his time in France. Kohlhepp remained in Europe until 1919 when he returned to Camp Taylor and was demobilized from the Army.
After the war, Kohlhepp returned to his former employer (now headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio) through 1923, and then became employed as an engineer for Hererle and Hay in Philadelphia in 1924. From 1925 through 1932, Kolhepp worked as an engineer for the Charles E. Bedaux Company of Illinois (a scientific management consulting firm with multiple Companies and divisions throughout the world). In the late 1930s, Kolhepp worked for the Courier-Journal and in the early 1940s, began working as an industrial engineer for Reynolds Metal Company, both in Louisville, KY. Kolhepp may have been employed by the Bedaux Company internationally in the late 1930s to mid 1940s, but his correspondence does not make this clear.
Along with his engineering work in the 1930s, Kolhepp began to seriously pursue the fine arts. During further visits to France, he founded the American Students and Artists Club in Paris, where he met his first wife, Dorothy. She encouraged his artistic inclinations and Kohlhepp began his studies at the Académie Colarossi and Académie de la Grande Chaumière . Kohlhepp and his wife also studied with Andre Lhote, the cubist painter. Kohlhepp whole-heartedly extended his support to the Louisville arts community and was active in the Art Center and the Louisville School of Art. His work resides in collections at the University of Louisville, The J. B. Speed Art Museum, The National Museum of American Art and the Smithsonian Institution. He later married Frances Howard, the granddaughter of shipyard founder James Howard. Kolhepp died in 1986.
Scope and Content Note
Kohlhepp’s papers document the military and professional career of this Kentucky-born soldier, engineer, and artist. Includes correspondence from his parents while he attending the University of Cincinnati along with his senior thesis. Collection documents his service in the “Reserve Mallet” (a support unit of the French and American Armies) and as an automotive repair instructor in France with his war memorabilia, notebooks on automotive repair and maps of various sections of France. After his discharge in 1919, collection documents his professional career with financial papers, income tax returns, and work correspondence from the 1920s to the 1940s, regarding a sales job with the General Fireproofing Company and engineering positions with the Charles E. Bedaux Company and Reynolds Metal Company. A 1983 copy of Beaux Arts features an article about Kohlhepp and his artwork, but otherwise the collection does not document his work as an artist.
Folder 1: Correspondence and other material, 1908-1917
Folder 2: Thesis from the University of Cincinnati, 1915
Folder 3: War Memorabilia, 1917-1919
Folder 4: Wartime Papers, 1917-1919
Folder 5: Notebooks on Vehicle Repair
Folder 6: Maps
Folder 7: Correspondence 1919-1921
Folder 8: Reports made on Manufacturing Plants
Folder 9: Check book registers, 1919-1945
Folder 10: Business Correspondence, 1919-1946
Folder 11: Income Tax Returns and Correspondence, 1920-1943
Folder 12: Reserve Mallet Newsletters
Folder 13: Beaux Arts , Spring 1983
American Field Service
Artists – Kentucky
Automobiles – Maintenance and repair
Bedaux, Charles Eugene, 1886-1944
General Fireproofing Co.
Manual High School (Louisville, Ky.)
Medical care – Kentucky
Reynolds Metal Company
United States. Army – Handbooks, manuals, etc.
United States. Army -Supplies and stores
United States. Army Transport Service
World War, 1914-1918 – Campaigns – France
World War, 1914-1918 – Equipment and supplies