Harry Waldo Kuhn was born in Etna, Ohio on May 26, 1873 to Peter Marcellus and Sarah Ann (Keyser) Kuhn. He studied mathematics at Ohio State, graduating with a B.Sc. in 1897. He then went on to graduate studies at Cornell University, where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1901, with a thesis entitled "On Imprimitive Substitution Groups", written under the direction of George Abram Miller, which was published in the American Journal of Mathematics.
He returned to Ohio State as assistant professor in 1901, the first member of the department with a Ph.D. He was promoted to associate professor in 1907 and to professor in 1908. In 1911-1912 he went on leave to do postdoctoral studies at the University of Bonn. In 1915 he was one of the organizers of the foundational meeting of Mathematical Association of America at Columbus, and he served as chairman of the Ohio Section of the MAA during 1926-27. He was also a charter member of the American Mathematical Society. In 1926 he succeeded Rosser D. Bohannan as chairman of the department, a post he held until his retirement in 1943.
As chairman he devoted his energies to establishing a graduate program in the department, attracting strong research mathematicians as faculty, most notably Tibor Radó, but also such noteworthy names as Henry Blumberg, Cyrus C. MacDuffee, Aristotle D. Michal, and Raymond L.Wilder. Kuhn personally supervised three Ph.D. students at Ohio State, starting with Grace M. Bareis in 1909 (the first Ph.D. in the department).
He was married to Ida Isabelle Dowdell on June 21, 1906 and had two children, Katherine Bryson (Mrs. Robert W. Cairns) and John French.
Harry Kuhn died in Wilmington, Delaware on Nov. 21, 1965.
The following obituary notice appeared in the Columbus Dispatch on Nov. 25, 1965:
Professor Waldo Kuhn, age 92, formerly of 1179 Fairview, Sunday, Wilmington, Delaware. Preceded in death by wife, Ida Dowdell Kuhn, 1959. Former Head Dept. of Mathematics OSU. Member of First Congregational Church, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma XI, Charter member of American Mathematics Society. Graduate of OSU., PhD Cornell University. Survived by daughter, Mrs. Robert W. Cairns, Wilmington, Delaware, 4 grandchildren. Memorial service Saturday 11 am, in the chapel of First Congregational Church. Dr. Chalmers Coe officiating. Cremation has been completed. Interment of ashes Green Lawn Cemetery by the DEYO FUNERAL HOME. Family requests ommission of flowers.