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Frank Kiehne papers

Identifier: Y.USA.69


The Frank Kiehne Papers reflects Kiehne's life long involvement in the YMCA from his experience as a youth program director in Chicago in 1947 to his retirement as the Secretary for Refugees and Rehabilitation for the World Alliance of YMCAs in 1990. The records of his YMCA involvement include correspondence, meeting memoranda, notes, reports, writings, research files, and travel files which include detailed travel reports and supporting research reflecting his involvement at each of his positions during his tenure at the YMCA.

The Papers also include records of his employment as Foreign Affairs Advisor to Congressmen Donald M. Payne. These records include congressional office correspondence, speeches, reports, and research files related to both national and international events and political issues addressed by Congressman Payne. A majority of these files include research files on African, Middle East, and South Asian countries that were also used in conjunction with his involvement with the YMCA World Alliance.

In addition, the Kiehne Papers include a small amount of personal files which include personal correspondence with family and friends, correspondence and files related to the North American Fellowship of YMCA Retirees, writings, and personal ephemera.


  • circa 1940-2010
  • Majority of material found within ( 1970-1995)


Language of Materials


Use of Materials:

This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright, ownership, and to obtain all the necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.


Frank Kiehne (1925-2014) was born in Burlington, Iowa to Frank and Grace (Archer) Kiehne. Kiehne's life long involvement with the YMCA began in his youth in Burlington where he was a YMCA camp counselor and swim instructor while in high school.

Kiehne graduated from Burlington High School in 1942 and began coursework at Burlington Junior College. From 1943-1945, served in World War II at the rank of commissioned officer in the Marine Corps. From 1951-1952 he served in the Korean War as a Special Services Officer for the United State's Marine Corp's first racially integrated unit. Eagerly following President Truman's directive, Kiehne was responsible for integrating the unit. His military leadership experience played an important role in shaping his career in the YMCA.

After serving in World War II, Kiehne received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from George Williams College, during which he served as president of the student YMCA. After graduating, he worked as Community and Student Secretary of the Chicago Y in 1947, and managed the largest neighborhood club program in the Chicago area and was dedicated to ensuring inclusive programming regardless of race. He steadfastly advocated for inclusion of minorities in youth and general Y programming, which eventually led to his termination in 1950. His resolve and dedication to inclusive programming did not go unnoticed, and after his termination he was offered a branch executive position related to program development and personnel management by Kansas City YMCA from 1950-1955, and then by St. Louis YMCA until 1961.

From 1961 to 1970, Frank was hired as the CEO of the Reading and Berks County YMCA. In this position he guided the Reading-Berks YMCA through an impressive period of growth and greatly expanded programming by making relevant urban action programming a top priority. Some of the programs including participation in Y World Service cultural exchanges, organizing a help center for migrant workers, the creation of African American community center, and offering of Crisis Forum workshops to ease racial tensions and promote positive cultural exchanges.

In 1970, Mr. Kiehne was hired as the CEO of the Washington D.C. YMCA, where he was integral in helping address social and racial unrest from positive programming within the community.

In addition to his commitment to ensuring open programming for all community members, Frank Kiehne was very involved in international affairs and interested in promoting access and pathways for peaceful conversations with international YMCAs as a venue for peacekeeping and international cultural exchanges. In 1960, Frank participated in a cultural exchange program with the USSR called the Communist Youth Program. As part of the program American and Russian young adults had the opportunity to visit the corresponding country to learn about each other's social and work cultures. Then, in 1961, he took a leave of absence from his duties at the YMCA in order to work as a consultant for the newly formed Peace Corps.

1973, in keeping with his interests in social and international development, Kiehne became the director of the International Division of the YMCA of the USA, a position in which he was instrumental in developing partnerships with local associations in other countries in order to develop indigenous leadership within international YMCAs. His leadership role and adept leadership skills at reducing conflict led him to travel internationally and placed international YMCAs in an integral position of peacekeeping and safety, and was involved in international events such as civil war and natural disasters.

In 1986, he served on the staff of the World Alliance of YMCAs and as Secretary for Refugees and Rehabilitation that included crisis management, refugee rights and assistance program management and advocacy for refugee status and welfare rights.

In 1990, Kiehne was recruited by Congressman Donald M. Payne (1934-2012) to serve as his foreign affairs advisor. In addition to his duties as foreign affair advisor to Congressmen Payne, Kiehne continued to stay actively involved with the YMCAs World Alliance and International Division until his retirement in 2000.

Frank Kiehne's contributions to public relations and international communications is recognized by his induction to the YMCA Hall of Fame (2007) and receipt of the North American Fellowship of YMCA Retirees F. William Stahl award (2005) for his prolific writing on advocacy, peace, and justice.


48 Cubic Feet (47 boxes)


The Frank Kiehne Papers reflect Kiehne's life long involvement in the YMCA from his experience as a youth program director in Chicago in 1947 to his retirement as the Secretary for Refugees and Rehabilitation for the World Alliance of YMCAs in 1990.


These documents are organized in the order they were received.


Additional records related to Kiehne and his work for the YMCA can be found in the YMCA Biographical Files (Y.USA.12).

Processing Information:

Catalog Record ID number: 9974092500601701

Processed by: Minimally processed by Lisa Calahan, March 2016.

An Inventory of his Papers
Finding aid prepared by Lisa Calahan.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area