Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Creator:
Kahn, Otto H., 1867-1934
Title:
Otto H. Kahn Papers
Repository:
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/3t945q793
Dates:
1908-1934 (mostly 1920-1933)
Size:
469 boxes, 928 items, and 191.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
This is stored in multiple locations. Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-313 ReCAP (rcpxm): Boxes A1; A2; A3; A4; A5; B1; B2; B3; B4; B5; B6; B7; B8; B9; B10; B11; C1; C2; C3; C4; C5; C6; C7; C8; C9; C10; C11; C12; D1; D2; D3; D4; D5; D6; D7; D8; E1; E2; E3; E4; F1; F2; F3; F4; F5; F6; F7; G1; G2; G3; G4; G5; G6; G7; G8; H1; H2; H3; H4; H5; H6; H7; H8; H9; H9a; H10; I1; I2; J1; J2; J3; K1; K2; K3; K4; K5; K6; L1; L2; L3; L4; L5; L6; L7; L8; M1; M2; M3; M4; M5; M6; M7; M8; M9; M10; M11; M12; N1; N2; N3; N4; O1; O2; O3; P1; P2; P3; P4; P5; P6; P7; P8; Q1; R1; R2; R3; R4; R5; R6; R7; R8; S1; S2; S3; S4; S5; S6; S7; S8; S9; S10; S11; S12; S13; S14; S15; T1; T2; T3; T4; T5; U1; V1; V2; V3; W1; W2; W3; W4; W5; W6; W7; W8; W9; XYZ1; XYZ2
Language:
and

Abstract

The Otto H. Kahn Papers consists primarily of the correspondence of Otto H. Kahn (1867-1934), international banker, philanthropist, and patron of the arts and music, but also includes printed copies of addresses, talks, opinions, and speeches that Kahn gave on a variety of political and fiscal topics, as well as press clippings, letterbooks, and some photographs.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Description:

The collection consists primarily of correspondence (over 400 boxes) of Kahn during the last twenty-five years of his life when he was prominent as an international banker (with Kuhn, Loeb & Co.), a philanthropist, and a leader in the cultural life of both New York City and the nation. Much of the collection is related to Kahn's business interests in the financial community and in the arts, such as the Metropolitan Opera House where he was chairman of the board. The correspondence reflects not only his generosity as a philanthropist but also the active interest he took in the many groups he supported by serving on administrative and policy-making boards. The scope of Kahn's influence can be seen in the many letters, telegrams, and statements of sympathy from all over the world expressed at his death. As a patron of the arts and an international banking figure, he was often called upon to speak, and the collection contains many pamphlet copies of such public addresses and published opinions, as well as 25 bound volumes of correspondence and clippings regarding them. There is also material assembled by John Kobler while preparing his biography Otto the Magnificent: The Life of Otto Kahn (1988), with the manuscript of his text.

Included among Kahn's correspondents are the world leaders Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Winston Churchill; and the well-known composers and performers Cleofonte Campanini, Enrico Caruso, George Gershwin, Alma Gluck, Lee Shubert, Jacob J. Shubert, and Arturo Toscanini.

Arrangement

Organized into the following series:

On Site: Boxes 1-313; ReCap (off-site): Boxes A1-XYZ2

Collection Creator Biography:

Kahn, Otto H., 1867-1934

Otto Kahn, international banker, philanthropist, and patron of the arts and music, was born in Mannheim, Germany, on February 21, 1867. He was the son of Bernhard, a banker, and Emma Kahn. His father took part in the German Revolution of 1848 and was condemned to death. He escaped to America and became a naturalized citizen. After ten years he returned to Germany and was able to marry Emma Eberstadt with the consent of her parents on the condition that he not return to America.

At the age of 17, Kahn finished his studies and began work as a junior clerk in a banking house in Karlsruhe. While learning the fundamental skills of banking, he continued his musical studies and attended lectures at the local university. Kahn then served in the military for a few years. Afterward he returned to banking and spent the next five years in London with Deutsche-Bank. Then in 1893 he accepted a position in the United States with the banking firm Speyer & Co.

Kahn married Addie Wolff in 1896 and together they had four children: Emily Maud, Margaret-Dorothy, Gilbert Wolff, and Roger Wolff. On January 1, 1897, Kahn entered the banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. as a partner. Kahn aided the reorganization of the Union Pacific and many other railroad companies making Kuhn, Loeb & Co. one of the top banking houses.

Kahn served as the director of both Equitable Trust Co. of New York and Los Angeles & Salt Lake R. R. Co., and as the chairman of the Finance and Currency Committee of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York. He was also a trustee of MIT, Rutgers College, and Carnegie Institute of Technology. Many universities, such as Michigan, George Washington, and Lincoln Memorial, have awarded him honorary degrees.

During World War I, Kahn played a very active role in aiding public services in various countries. The governments of France, Belgium, Italy, and Spain bestowed high honors on him for his philanthropic work. Kahn was a life-long patron of the arts and music, especially in New York City, and held various positions on the Board of the Metropolitan Opera House for over 25 years. He was responsible for bringing in Guilo Gatti-Casazza as director and Arturo Toscanini as principal conductor, as well as making many artistic and business reforms. Kahn also founded the Chicago Opera and served on the board of various other musical companies.

Otto Kahn died of a heart attack in his New York office on March 30, 1934. His family received hundreds of condolences due to his long banking career, involvement in the arts, and other philanthropic endeavors.

Collection History

Acquisition:

The collection was a gift from Gilbert W. Kahn in 1951 .

Appraisal

No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sharon Strulowitz in 2002. Finding aid written by Sharon Strulowitz in 2002.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Otto H. Kahn Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/3t945q793
Location:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
This is stored in multiple locations. Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-313 ReCAP (rcpxm): Boxes A1; A2; A3; A4; A5; B1; B2; B3; B4; B5; B6; B7; B8; B9; B10; B11; C1; C2; C3; C4; C5; C6; C7; C8; C9; C10; C11; C12; D1; D2; D3; D4; D5; D6; D7; D8; E1; E2; E3; E4; F1; F2; F3; F4; F5; F6; F7; G1; G2; G3; G4; G5; G6; G7; G8; H1; H2; H3; H4; H5; H6; H7; H8; H9; H9a; H10; I1; I2; J1; J2; J3; K1; K2; K3; K4; K5; K6; L1; L2; L3; L4; L5; L6; L7; L8; M1; M2; M3; M4; M5; M6; M7; M8; M9; M10; M11; M12; N1; N2; N3; N4; O1; O2; O3; P1; P2; P3; P4; P5; P6; P7; P8; Q1; R1; R2; R3; R4; R5; R6; R7; R8; S1; S2; S3; S4; S5; S6; S7; S8; S9; S10; S11; S12; S13; S14; S15; T1; T2; T3; T4; T5; U1; V1; V2; V3; W1; W2; W3; W4; W5; W6; W7; W8; W9; XYZ1; XYZ2