To a considerable degree, the James H. Howard papers consist of manuscript copies of articles, book, speeches, and reviews that document his professional work in anthropology, ethnology, ethnohistory, archeology, linguistics, musicology, and folklore between 1950 and 1982. Among these are a few unpublished items. Notes are relatively scant, there being somewhat appreciable materials for the Chippewa, Choctaw, Creek, Dakota, Omaha, Ponca, Seminole, and Shawnee. The chief field materials represented in the collection are sound recordings and photographs, but many of the latter are yet to be unidentified. A series of color photographs of Indian artifacts in folders are mostly identified and represent the extensive American Indian Cultural collection of costumes and artifacts that Howard acquired and created. Other documents include copies of papers and other research materials of colleagues. There is very little original material related to archeological work in the collection and that which is present concerns contract work for the Lone State Steel Company.
Scope and Contents:
The James Henri Howard papers document his research and professional activities from 1949-1982 and primarily deal with his work as an anthropologist, archeologist, and ethnologist, studying Native American languages & cultures. The collection consists of Series 1 correspondence; Series 2 writings and research, which consists of subject files (language and culture research materials), manuscripts, research proposals, Indian claim case materials, Howard's publications, publications of others, and bibliographical materials; Series 3 sound recordings of Native American music and dance; Series 4 photographs; and Series 5 drawings and artwork.
Howard was also a linguist, musicologist, and folklorist, as well as an informed and able practitioner in the fields of dance and handicrafts. His notable books include Choctaw Music and Dance; Oklahoma Seminoles: Medicines, Magic, and Religion; and Shawnee! The Ceremonialism of a Native American Tribe and its Cultural Backround.
Some materials are oversize, specifcially these three Winter Count items: 1. a Dakota Winter Count made of cloth in 1953 at the request of James H. Howard, 2. a drawing of British Museum Winter Count on 4 sheets of paper, and 3. Photographs of a Winter Count.
This collection is arranged in 5 series: Series 1. Correspondence, 1960-1982, undated; Series 2. Writings and Research, 1824-1992; Series 3. Sound Recordings, 1960-1979; Series 4. Photographs, 1879-1985; Series 5. Drawings and Artwork, 1928-1982.
1925 -- James Henri Howard was born on September 10 in Redfield, South Dakota.
1949 -- Received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Nebraska.
1950 -- Received his Master of Arts from the University of Nebraska and began a prolific record of publishing.
1950-1953 -- Began his first professional employment as an archaeologist and preparator at the North Dakota State Historical Museum in Bismarck.
1955-1957 -- Was a museum lecturer at the Kansas City (Missouri) Museum.
1957 -- James H. Howard received his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Joined the staff of the Smithsonian's River Basin Surveys in the summer.
1957-1963 -- Taught anthropology at the University of North Dakota.
1962 -- Chief archeologist at the Fortress of Louisberg Archeological Project in Nova Scotia.
1963-1968 -- Taught anthropology at the University of South Dakota; State Archeologist of South Dakota; Director of the W. H. Over Dakota Museum.
1963-1966 -- Director of the Institute of Indian Studies, University of South Dakota.
1968-1982 -- Associate professor of anthropology at Oklahoma State University at Stillwater (became a full professor in 1971).
1979 -- Consulted for exhibitions at the Western Heritage Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.
1982 -- Died October 1 after a brief illness.
James H. Howard was trained in anthropology at the University of Nebraska (B.A., 1949; M.A., 1950) and the University of Michigan (Ph.D., 1957). In 1950-1953, he served as archeologist and preparator at the North Dakota State Historical Museum; and, in 1955-1957, he was on the staff of the Kansas City (Missouri) Museum. During the summer of 1957, he joined the staff of the Smithsonian's River Basin Surveys. Between 1957 and 1963, he taught anthropology at the Universtity of North Dakota. Between 1963 and 1968, he served in several capacities with the University of South Dakota including assistant and associate professor, director of the Institute of Indian Studies (1963-1966), and Director of the W.H. Over Museum (1963-1968). In 1968, he joined the Department of Sociology at Oklahoma State University, where he achieved the rank of professor in 1970. In 1979, he was a consultant for exhibitions at the Western Heritage Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.
Howard's abiding interest were the people of North America, whom he studied both as an ethnologist and archeologist. Between 1949 and 1982, he worked with the Ponca, Omaha, Yankton and Yaktonai Dakota, Yamasee, Plains Ojibwa (or Bungi), Delaware, Seneca-Cayuga, Prairie Potatwatomi of Kansas, Mississipi and Oklahoma Choctaw, Oklahoma Seminole, and Pawnee. His interest in these people varied from group to group. With some he carried out general culture studies; with other, special studies of such phenomena as ceremonies, art, dance, and music. For some, he was interest in environmental adaptation and land use, the latter particularly for the Pawnee, Yankton Dakota, Plains Ojibwa, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, and Ponca, for which he served as consultant and expert witness in suits brought before the United Stated Indian Claims Commisssion. A long-time museum man, Howard was also interested in items of Indian dress, articles associated with ceremonies, and other artifacts. He was "a thoroughgoing participant-observer and was a member of the Ponca Hethuska Society, a sharer in ceremonial activities of many Plains tribes, and a first-rate 'powwow man'." (American Anthropologist 1986, 88:692).
As an archeologist, Howard worked at Like-a-Fishhook Village in North Dakota, Spawn Mound and other sites in South Dakota, Gavin Point in Nebraska and South Dakota, Weston and Hogshooter sites in Oklahoma, and the Fortess of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. He also conducted surveys for the Lone Star Steel Company in Haskall, Latimer, Le Flore and Pittsburg counties in Oklahoma.
Howard's American Indian Cultural Collection of Costumes and Artifacts, that he acquired and created during his lifetime, is currently located at the Milwaukee Public Museum. In Boxes 19-21 of the James Henri Howard Papers, there are photographs with accompanying captions and descriptions in binders of his American Indian Cultural Collection of Costumes and Artifacts that his widow, Elfriede Heinze Howard, created in order to sell the collection to a museum.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by James Henri Howard's wife,
Elfriede Heinz Howard, in 1988-1990, 1992, & 1994.
The James Henri Howard papers are open for research.
Access to the James Henri Howard papers requires an appointment.
The personal papers of Charles Lang Freer, the industrialist and art collector who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. The papers include correspondence, diaries, art inventories, scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeil Whistler and other press clippings, and photographs.
The personal papers of Charles Lang Freer, the industrialist and art collector who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. The papers include correspondence, diaries, art inventories, scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeil Whistler and other press clippings, financial material, architectural drawings, and photographs.
Correspondence, circa 1860-1921, includes Freer's correspondence, 1876-1920, with artists, dealers, collectors, museums, and public figures; letterpress books contain copies of Freer's outgoing letters, 1892-1910; correspondence collected by Freer of James McNeill Whistler, and his wife Beatrix, 186?-1909, with Lady Colin Campbell, Thomas R. Way, Alexander Reid, Whistler's mother, Mrs. George W. Whistler, and others; correspondence of Whistler collector Richard A. Canfield, 1904-1913, regarding works in Canfield's collection; and correspondence of Freer's assistant, Katharine Nash Rhoades, 1920-1921, soliciting Freer's letters from his associates, and regarding the settlement of his estate.
Also included are twenty-nine pocket diaries, 1889-1890, 1892-1898, 1900-1919, recording daily activities, people and places visited, observations, and comments; a diary kept by Freer's caretaker, Joseph Stephens Warring, recording daily activities at Freer's Detroit home, 1907-1910. Inventories, n.d. and 1901-1921, of American, European, and Asian art in Freer's collection, often including provenance information; vouchers, 1884-1919, documenting his purchases; five volumes of scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeill Whistler, 1888-1931, labeled "Various," "Peacock Room," "Death, etc.," "Paris, etc.," and "Boston...London" ; three volumes of newsclippings, 1900-1930, concerning Freer and the opening of the Freer Gallery of Art.
Correspondence regarding Freer's gift and bequest to the Smithsonian Institution, 1902-1916; and photographs, ca. 1880-1930, of Freer, including portraits by Alvin Langdon Coburn and Edward Steichen, Freer with others, Freer in Cairo, China and Japan, Freer's death mask, and his memorial service, Kyoto, 1930; photographs of artists and others, including Thomas Dewing, Ernest Fenollosa, Katharine Rhoades taken by Alfred Stieglitz, Rosalind B. Philip, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Abbott H. Thayer, Dwight Tryon, and Whistler; and photographs relating to Whistler, including art works depicting him, grave and memorial monuments, works of art, the Peacock Room, and Whistler's memorial exhibition at the Copley Society.
Organization of the Papers:
This collection is organized into twelve series.
Series 1: Genealogical and Biographical Data
Series 2: Correspondence
Series 3: Diaries
Series 4: Freer Colleague Materials
Series 5: Art Inventories
Series 6: Financial Materials
Series 7: Exhibition Loan Files
Series 8: Biblical Manuscripts and Gold Treasure Files
Series 9: American School of Archaeology in China
Series 10: Printed Material
Series 11: Outsize Material
Series 12: Photographs
1854 February 25 -- Born in Kingston, New York
1873 -- Appointed accountant and paymaster of New York, Kingston and Syracuse Railroad by Frank J. Hecker (1846-1927)
1876 -- Moves to Indiana to work, with Hecker, for the Detroit and Eel River and Illinois Railroad
1880 -- Moves to Detroit, participates in organization of the Peninsular Car Works with Hecker
1883 -- Becomes vice president and secretary of Peninsular Car Company when it succeeds Peninsular Car Works
1883 -- Begins collecting European prints
1884 -- Peninsular Car Company constructs plant on Ferry Avenue
1887 -- Meets Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)
1887 -- Acquires proofs of 26 etchings, Venice, Second Series(1886), by James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
1887 -- Purchases a small Japanese fan attributed to Ogata Karin(1658-1715)
1887 -- Buys land on Ferry Avenue
1889 -- Meets Frederick Stuart Church (1826-1900) and Dwight William Tryon (1849-1925) in New York
1890 -- Commissions Wilson Eyre (1858-1944) to design house on Ferry Avenue, Detroit, Michigan
1890 -- On first trip to London, meets James McNeill Whistler(1834-1903)
1892 -- Moves to Ferry Avenue house
1892 -- Tryon and Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938) undertake decoration of reception rooms
1893 -- Lends American paintings to World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago
1893 -- Purchases first piece of Chinese art, a small painting of white herons by an anonymous Ming dynasty (1368-1644) artist
1894 -- Begins yearlong trip around the world, which includes visit to the Whistlers in Paris and first trip to Asia, stopping in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, China, and Japan
1896 -- Meets Matsuki Bunkyo (1867-1940) in Boston
1899 -- Takes part in consolidation of railroad-car building companies then retires from active business
1900 -- Attends Exposition International Universelle in Paris
1900 -- Buys villa in Capri with Thomas S. Jerome
1901 -- Meets Siegfried Bing (1838-1905) in Paris and Ernest Fenollosa(1853-1908), who visits Freer in Detroit
1902 -- Meets Dikran Kelekian (1868-1951)
1902 -- Spends summer in Britain building Whistler collection
1902 -- Views Whistler's, Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room
1904 -- Purchases Whistler's Peacock Room
1904 -- Offers his art collections and funds to build a museum in which to house them to the Smithsonian Institution
1905 -- Smithsonian committee visits Freer in Detroit
1906 -- United States government formally accepts Freer's gift on January 24
1906 -- Freer signs Deed of Gift to Smithsonian Institution on May 5
1907 -- On second tour of Asia, meets Hara Tomitaro 1868-1939) in Yokohama, Japan
1908 -- Takes third trip to Asia, specifically to West Asia to study Rakka ware
1909 -- Tours Europe to study art museums
1909 -- On fourth trip to Asia, attends memorial ceremony for Fenollosa (d.1908 September) at Miidera, Japan, and meets Duanfang (1861-1911) in China
1910 -- On last trip to Asia, visits Longmen Buddhist caves in China
1911 -- Suffers stroke
1912 -- Lends selection of objects for exhibition at Smithsonian Institution
1913 -- Meets Eugene (1875-1957) and Agnes E. (1887-1970) Meyer
1913 -- Commissions Charles Adams Platt (1861-1933) to design museum building in Washington
1914 -- Meets Katharine Nash Rhoades (1885-1965) in Detroit
1915 -- Settles in New York City
1915 -- Site of future Freer Gallery of Art is determined
1916 -- Platt's plans for Freer Gallery are approved by Smithsonian Regents and Commission of Fine Arts and ground is broken in September
1918 -- After falling ill in Detroit, Freer travels to New York for treatment
1918 -- Work on the museum building is delayed by the war
1919 -- Freer appends codicil to will permitting acquisitions of Asian, Egyptian, and Near Eastern (West Asian) art
1919 -- Dies in New York City on 25 September and is buried in Kingston, New York
1919 -- Construction of Freer Gallery completed
1920 -- John Ellerton Lodge (1876-1942) is appointed director of the Freer Gallery
1923 -- Freer Gallery opens to the public on May 9
1930 -- Memorial ceremony for Freer is held at Koetsuji, Kyoto
Charles Lang Freer was an American industrialist who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. He was a well-known collector of Asian art, and strongly supported the synthesis of Eastern art and Western art. One of his most famous acquisitions was James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room.
Index to cross-referenced correspondents in the series Charles Lang Freer correspondence
Beal, Junius E. -- See: -- Warring, Joseph Stephens
Black, George M. -- See: -- Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
Board of Education (Kingston, New York) See: Michael, M. J.
Bonner, Campbell See: University of Michigan
Boughton, George H. See: Yardley, F. C.
British Museum See: Binyon, Laurence; Hobson, R. L.
Brown, Harold H. See: Art Association of Indianapolis
Buchner, Evelyn B. See: Knoedler, M., and Company
Buckholder, C. H. See: Art Institute of Chicago
Butler, S. B. See: Unidentified correspondents
Carnegie Institute See: Balken, Edward Duff; Harshe, Robert B.
Carpenter, Newton H. See: Art Institute of Chicago
Caulkins, Horace James See: Pewabic Pottery
Chao, Shih-chin See: Gunn, Chu Su
Chicago & North Western Railway Co. See: Hughett, Marvin
Clark, Charles Upson See: Clark, Arthur B.
Cleveland Museum of Art See: Whiting, Frederic Allen
Columbia University See: Braun, W. A.; Gottheil, Richard; Hirth, Friederich
Commission of Fine Arts See: Moore, Charles
Corcoran Gallery of Art See: Minnigerode, C. Powell
Crocker, Anna B. See: Portland Art Association
Dannenberg, D. E. See: Karlbeck, Orvar
De Menoncal, Beatrice See: Lien, Hui Ch'ing Collection
De Ricci, Seymour See: Ricci, Seymour de
Defnet, William A., Mrs., See: Franke, Ida M.
DeMotte See: Vigouroux, J.
Detroit Institute of Arts See: Detroit Museum of Art
Detroit Publishing Company See: Livingstone, W. A.
Detroit School of Design See: George Hamilton; Stevens, Henry
DeVinne Press See: Peters, Samuel T.; Witherspoon, A. S.
Dyrenforth, P. C. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Eddy, Arthur J. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Eggers, George Williams See: Art Institute of Chicago
Farr, Daniel H. See: Robinson and Farr
Farrand School (Detroit) See: Yendall, Edith
Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago) See: Laufer, Berthold
Flagg, Frederick J. See: Allen, Horace N.
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University See: Forbes, Edward; Pope, Arthur Upham; Sachs, Paul J.
French, M. R. See: Art Institute of Chicago
Fu, Lan-ya See: Pang, Lai-ch'en
Fujii, Yoshio See: Yoshio, Fujii
Gerrity, Thomas See: Knoedler, M., and Company
Goupil Gallery See: Marchant, William
Gray, William J. See: Barr, Eva
Great Lakes Engineering Works See: Hoyt, H. W.
Grolier Club See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Heinemann, W. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Holden, Edward S. See: West Point, U. S. Military Academy
Hudson, J. L. See: Weber, William C.
Hutchins, Harry B. See: University of Michigan
Hutchins, Charles L. See: Art Institute of Chicago
Kelekian, H. G. See: Kelekian, Dikran G.
Kent, H. W. See: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Lee, Kee Son See: Li, Chi-ch'un
Levy, John See: Schneider, A. K.
Library of Congress See: Rice, Richard A.; Wright, Helen
Louvre (Paris, France) See: Midgeon, Gaston
Matsuki, Z. See: Matsuki, Kihachiro
McKim, Mead and White See: White, Stanford
Mills, A. L., Colonel See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
Miner, Luella See: Lien, Hui Ch'ing Collection
Minneapolis Institute of Arts See: Breck, Joseph; Van Derlip, John R.
Monif, R. Khan See: Rathbun, Richard
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston See: Lodge, John Ellerton
Naser, Katen & Nahass See: Katen, K.
Nordlinger, Marie, Miss See: Meyer-Riefstahl, Marie
Panama Pacific International Exposition See: Moore, Charles C.; Trask, John E. D.
Peabody Museum See: Morse, Edward Sylvester
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts See: Trask, John E. D.
Saint-Gaudens, Augusta H. See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
Saint-Gaudens, Homer See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
Samurai Shokai See: Nomura, Yozo
San Francisco Art Association See: Laurvik, J. Nilsen
Scribner's, Charles, Sons See: Van Dyke, John C.
Shaw, Wilfred B. See: University of Michigan
Shirae, S. Z. See: Yamanaka and Company
Smith College See: Clark, Arthur B.
Smithsonian Institution See: Holmes, William Henry; Rathbun, Richard; Ravenel, Walcott, Charles D.
Society of Arts and Crafts (Detroit) See: Plumb, Helen
Societe des Beaux-Arts See: Reid, Alexander
Stevens, George W. See: Toledo Museum of Art
Stratton, Mary Chase Perry See: Pewabic Pottery
Tanaka, Kichijiro See: Yamanaka and Company
Tuttle, William F. See: Art Institute of Chicago
Union Trust Company (Detroit) See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
United States Military Academy See: West Point, U. S. Military Academy
University of Chicago See: Zug, George Breed
University of Pennsylvania, Univ. Mus. See: Gordon, George Bryon
Ushikubo, D. J. R. See: Yamanaka and Company
Wallis & Son See: Barr, Eva; Thompson, C. Croal Ward, Clarence See: Oberlin College
Warren, Edward K. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Warring, Stephen See: Warring, Joseph Stephens
Watkin, Williams R. T. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Watson, Margaret, Miss See: Parker, Margaret Watson
Whistler, Anna See: Stanton, Anna Whistler
Whiting, Almon C. See: Toledo Museum of Art
Williams College See: Rice, Richard A
Wright, F. G. See: Orbach and Company
Yatsuhashi, H. See: Yamanaka and Company
Index to cross-referenced correspondence in the series Whistler correspondence
Bell, William See: Unidentified correspondents
Brown, Ernest See: Painter Etchers' Society, Committee
Cowen, John T. See subseries: Charles Lang Freer Correspondence
Ford, Sheridan See: Reid, Alexander
Haden, Francis Seymour See: Painter Etchers' Society, Committee
Haden, Francis Seymour, Lady See: Haden, Deborah Whistler
Leighton, Frederick, Baron See: Campbell, Lady Colin
Moore, Albert See: Reid, Alexander
Morley, Charles See: Pall Mall Gazette
Morris, Harrison S. See: Reid, Alexander
Pennell, Joseph See: Miscellaneous typescripts
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts See: Reid, Alexander
Prange, F. G. See: Reid, Alexander
Societe des Beaux-Arts See: Reid, Alexander
Society of Portrait Painters See: Reid, Alexander
Stevens Fine Art See: Reid, Alexander
Studd, Arthur See: Miscellaneous typescripts
[Vanderbilt?], George, Mrs. See: George, Mrs.
Whistler, William McNeill, Mrs. See: Whistler, Nellie
Whistler Memorial Committee See: Miscellaneous typescripts
The Archives of American Art microfilmed portions of the Freer papers in 1992. The microfilm is available at the Archives of American Art's Washington D.C. office, the Freer Gallery of Art Library, and through interlibrary loan.
Gift of the estate of Charles Lang Freer.
Collection is open for research.
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
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.