The papers of architect Albert Kahn date from 1875-1970, bulk 1875-1945, and measure 7.02 linear feet. Found within the papers is biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, nine sketchbooks, art work, notes and writings, two scrapbooks, printed material, photographs and photograph albums, artifacts, and motion picture film.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of architect Albert Kahn date from 1875-1970, bulk 1875-1945, and measure 7.02 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, nine sketchbooks, art work, notes and writings, two scrapbooks, printed material, photographs and photograph albums, artifacts, a sound recording and motion picture film.
Biographical material includes a biographical account, marriage certificate, architect's licenses, calling cards for the Kahns, passports, identification cards, letters of introduction, award certificates and medals, membership cards and certificates, a sound recording concerning Albert Kahn's life, and an address book.
Correspondence consists of letters between Albert Kahn, family members, and colleagues including Myron Barlow, George D. Mason, Carl Milles and Arthur A. Stoughton. There is one letter each from Henry Bacon and Alexander Trowbridge, and condolence letters to Kahn's widow.
Personal business records include records of stocks and income, lists of expenses and receipts for construction, property records, price lists for paintings by others, and miscellaneous receipts.
Art work includes nine sketchbooks and drawings by Albert Kahn, a paper silhouette portrait of Kahn, and drawings, watercolors, etchings, lithographs, and a sketchbook of Cornwall by others.
Notes and writings include Ernestine Kahn's diary, notebooks, guest registers and records concerning Albert Kahn's funeral, and typescripts of speeches and lectures.
Two scrapbooks contain clippings, small drawings, photographs of architecture, and letters of tribute.
Printed material includes clippings, exhibition catalogs for others, programs, booklets, books, reproductions of art work, travel brochures, picture postcards, and miscellaneous printed material.
Photographs are of Albert Kahn, members of his family, and colleagues including Myron Barlow, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Arturo Toscanini, residences, and travel scenes. Moving images include five reels of 16mm motion picture film of the Kahn family at the farm and at various family gatherings.
Artifacts primarily consist of the tools used by Albert Kahn during his career including t-squares and portable tripod supports for drawing boards used on construction sites.
The collection is arranged as 9 series. Glass plate negative housed separately and closed to researchers.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1896-1945 (Box 1, 6, OV 10; 19 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1891-1970 (Box 1-3, 6; 3.3 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1891-1943 (Box 3; 7 folders)
Series 4: Art Work, 1890-1936 (Box 3, 6, OV 11-12; 20 folders)
Series 5: Notes and Writings, 1899-1943 (Box 3-4; 29 folders)
Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1890-1942 (Box 7; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1897-1968 (Box 4-6, OV 10; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs and Moving Images, 1875-1944 (Box 5-6, 8, FC 13-17, MGP 2; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 9: Artifacts, circa 1942 (Box 5, 9; 0.4 linear feet)
Albert Kahn (1869-1942) of Detroit, Michigan, was an architect, primarily known for designing industrial buildings with the pioneering use of reinforced concrete that allowed large unobstructed interiors.
Albert Kahn was born on March 21, 1869 in Rhaunen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, the oldest son of rabbi Joseph Kahn and Rosalie Cohn Kahn. The family immigrated to the United States in 1881 and settled in Detroit, Michigan.
Albert Kahn worked as an office boy in an architect's office and studied drawing in Sunday classes conducted by sculptor Julius Melchers. Melchers found Kahn a position in the architectural offices of Mason and Rice where he worked for several years. In 1890, Kahn won a scholarship to travel in Europe to study architecture and in 1895 he opened his own architectural office, Albert Kahn Associates, hiring his younger brothers, Louis, Moritz, and Felix. In the following year, Kahn married Ernestine Krolik.
In 1903, Kahn was awarded his first two important commissions: to design the University of Michigan's engineering building and the Palm Apartments in Detroit, built with the early use of reinforced concrete. In the following year, he built the first reinforced concrete factory for the Packard Motor Company. Because of the industrial growth in Detroit at that time, Kahn was in demand to design various automobile factories including the General Motors Building, textile, business machine, and chemical plants. He became an authority on concrete construction and by the beginning of the First World War, his firm provided construction for the military aviation section of the Army.
Kahn later moved from using concrete to steel and glass. In 1927, his company finished a large building for the Fisher Brothers of Detroit for which he was awarded a medal by the Architectural League of New York for the year's outstanding contribution to architecture. In the following year his firm was given full charge of the entire heavy industrial building program of Russia's first five-year plan, and they constructed an estimated two billion dollars worth of factories in Russia.
During World War II, Kahn's firm was constantly busy constructing naval air bases, airplane engine plants, tank arsenals including the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, and other government defense projects. In June 1942 Kahn was given the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts by Syracuse University.
Albert Kahn died on December 8, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan.
The Albert Kahn papers were donated by Kahn's children, Mrs. Lydia Winston Malbin, Mrs. Rosalie Butzel, and Dr. Edgar A. Kahn, in 1974.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Albert Kahn papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
These records are the official minutes of the Board. They are compiled at the direction of the Secretary of the Smithsonian, who is also secretary to the Board, after
approval by the Regents' Executive Committee and by the Regents themselves. The minutes are edited, not a verbatim account of proceedings. For reasons unknown, there are no
manuscript minutes for the period from 1857 through 1890; and researchers must rely on printed minutes published in the Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution instead.
Minutes are transferred regularly from the Secretary's Office to the Archives. Minutes less than 15 years old are closed to researchers. Indexes exist for the period from
1907 to 1946 and can be useful.
The Smithsonian Institution was created by authority of an Act of Congress approved August 10, 1846. The Act entrusted direction of the Smithsonian to a body called
the Establishment, composed of the President; the Vice President; the Chief Justice of the United States; the secretaries of State, War, Navy, Interior, and Agriculture; the
Attorney General; and the Postmaster General. In fact, however, the Establishment last met in 1877, and control of the Smithsonian has always been exercised by its Board of
Regents. The membership of the Regents consists of the Vice President and the Chief Justice of the United States; three members each of the Senate and House of Representatives;
two citizens of the District of Columbia; and seven citizens of the several states, no two from the same state. (Prior to 1970 the category of Citizen Regents not residents
of Washington consisted of four members). By custom the Chief Justice is Chancellor. The office was at first held by the Vice President. However, when Millard Fillmore succeeded
to the presidency on the death of Zachary Taylor in 1851, Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney was chosen in his stead. The office has always been filled by the Chief Justice
since that time.
The Regents of the Smithsonian have included distinguished Americans from many walks of life. Ex officio members (Vice President) have been: Spiro T. Agnew, Chester A.
Arthur, Allen W. Barkley, John C. Breckenridge, George Bush, Schuyler Colfax, Calvin Coolidge, Charles Curtis, George M. Dallas, Charles G. Dawes, Charles W. Fairbanks, Millard
Fillmore, Gerald R. Ford, John N. Garner, Hannibal Hamlin, Thomas A. Hendricks, Garret A. Hobart, Hubert H. Humphrey, Andrew Johnson, Lyndon B. Johnson, William R. King, Thomas
R. Marshall, Walter F. Mondale, Levi P. Morton, Richard M. Nixon, Nelson A. Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, James S. Sherman, Adlai E. Stevenson, Harry S. Truman, Henry A.
Wallace, William A. Wheeler, Henry Wilson.
Ex officio members (Chief Justice) have been: Roger B. Taney, Salmon P. Chase, Nathan Clifford, Morrison R. Waite, Samuel F. Miller, Melville W. Fuller, Edward D. White,
William Howard Taft, Charles Evans Hughes, Harlan F. Stone, Fred M. Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren E. Burger.
Regents on the part of the Senate have been: Clinton P. Anderson, Newton Booth, Sidney Breese, Lewis Cass, Robert Milledge Charlton, Bennet Champ Clark, Francis M. Cockrell,
Shelby Moore Cullom, Garrett Davis, Jefferson Davis, George Franklin Edmunds, George Evans, Edwin J. Garn, Walter F. George, Barry Goldwater, George Gray, Hannibal Hamlin,
Nathaniel Peter Hill, George Frisbie Hoar, Henry French Hollis, Henry M. Jackson, William Lindsay, Henry Cabot Lodge, Medill McCormick, James Murray Mason, Samuel Bell Maxey,
Robert B. Morgan, Frank E. Moss, Claiborne Pell, George Wharton Pepper, David A. Reed, Leverett Saltonstall, Hugh Scott, Alexander H. Smith, Robert A. Taft, Lyman Trumbull,
Wallace H. White, Jr., Robert Enoch Withers.
Regents on the part of the House of Representatives have included: Edward P. Boland, Frank T. Bow, William Campbell Breckenridge, Overton Brooks, Benjamin Butterworth,
Clarence Cannon, Lucius Cartrell, Hiester Clymer, William Colcock, William P. Cole, Jr., Maurice Connolly, Silvio O. Conte, Edward E. Cox, Edward H. Crump, John Dalzell, Nathaniel
Deering, Hugh A. Dinsmore, William English, John Farnsworth, Scott Ferris, Graham Fitch, James Garfield, Charles L. Gifford, T. Alan Goldsborough, Frank L. Greene, Gerry Hazleton,
Benjamin Hill, Henry Hilliard, Ebenezer Hoar, William Hough, William M. Howard, Albert Johnson, Leroy Johnson, Joseph Johnston, Michael Kirwan, James T. Lloyd, Robert Luce,
Robert McClelland, Samuel K. McConnell, Jr., George H. Mahon, George McCrary, Edward McPherson, James R. Mann, George Perkins Marsh, Norman Y. Mineta, A. J. Monteague, R.
Walton Moore, Walter H. Newton, Robert Dale Owen, James Patterson, William Phelps, Luke Poland, John Van Schaick Lansing Pruyn, B. Carroll Reece, Ernest W. Roberts, Otho Robards
Singleton, Frank Thompson, Jr., John M. Vorys, Hiram Warner, Joseph Wheeler.
Citizen Regents have been: David C. Acheson, Louis Agassiz, James B. Angell, Anne L. Armstrong, William Backhouse Astor, J. Paul Austin, Alexander Dallas Bache, George
Edmund Badger, George Bancroft, Alexander Graham Bell, James Gabriel Berrett, John McPherson Berrien, Robert W. Bingham, Sayles Jenks Bowen, William G. Bowen, Robert S. Brookings,
John Nicholas Brown, William A. M. Burden, Vannevar Bush, Charles F. Choate, Jr., Rufus Choate, Arthur H. Compton, Henry David Cooke, Henry Coppee, Samuel Sullivan Cox, Edward
H. Crump, James Dwight Dana, Harvey N. Davis, William Lewis Dayton, Everette Lee Degolyer, Richard Delafield, Frederic A. Delano, Charles Devens, Matthew Gault Emery, Cornelius
Conway Felton, Robert V. Fleming, Murray Gell-Mann, Robert F. Goheen, Asa Gray, George Gray, Crawford Hallock Greenwalt, Nancy Hanks, Caryl Parker Haskins, Gideon Hawley,
John B. Henderson, John B. Henderson, Jr., A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Gardner Greene Hubbard, Charles Evans Hughes, Carlisle H. Humelsine, Jerome C. Hunsaker, William Preston
Johnston, Irwin B. Laughlin, Walter Lenox, Augustus P. Loring, John Maclean, William Beans Magruder, John Walker Maury, Montgomery Cunningham Meigs, John C. Merriam, R. Walton
Moore, Roland S. Morris, Dwight W. Morrow, Richard Olney, Peter Parker, Noah Porter, William Campbell Preston, Owen Josephus Roberts, Richard Rush, William Winston Seaton,
Alexander Roby Shepherd, William Tecumseh Sherman, Otho Robards Singleton, Joseph Gilbert Totten, John Thomas Towers, Frederic C. Walcott, Richard Wallach, Thomas J. Watson,
Jr., James E. Webb, James Clarke Welling, Andrew Dickson White, Henry White, Theodore Dwight Woolsey.