Guide to the Papers of Arthur (1850-1928) and Fritz (1888-1968) Kahn, 1885-1978
AR 7144/MF 746

Processed by Anke Kalkbrenner and Lea Osborne

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2007 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Finding aid was encoded by Lea Osborne on January 29, 2007. Description is in English.
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Descriptive Summary

Creators: Kahn, Arthur, 1850-1928 and Kahn, Fritz, 1888-1968
Title: Arthur and Fritz Kahn Collection
Dates: 1885-1978
Abstract: This collection documents the professional work and personal lives of the author Arthur Kahn (1850-1928) and his son, Fritz Kahn (1888-1968). The bulk of the records are concerned with Fritz Kahn's unpublished text, entitled The Natural History of Palestine. Included are multiple drafts of chapters, illustrations, notes, and photographs with accompanying material. The collection also contains various drafts of published and unpublished essays and articles, personal and professional correspondence, personal documents, such as diaries and academic records, newspaper clippings, and printed matter.
Languages: The collection is in German and English, with some French.
Quantity: 3.5 linear feet
Identification: AR 7144/MF 746
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Arthur Kahn

Arthur Kahn was born in Gross-Gerau, Hessen on September 9, 1850, the youngest son of Cantor Nathan Kahn and Juliane Hirsch. From 1878 through 1886, Arthur Kahn studied medicine in Berlin, Bonn, Marburg, Munich, Strasbourg, and Zurich. In June 1886 he received his doctoral diploma from the Friedrich Wilhelms University in Berlin and started to practice in Bonn. Around 1887 [exact date unknown], he married Hedwig Schmul, born in Halle on August 26, 1860. Arthur Kahn was Hedwig Schmul’s second husband. Before their son Fritz Kahn was born on September 29, 1888 Arthur and Hedwig separated, but never officially divorced.

In summer 1889 Arthur Kahn decided to immigrate to the United States. The couple, who reunited shortly before Arthur left for America, kept in touch via mail. At the time, Hedwig Kahn lived in Halle. Originally, she had planned to follow Arthur to New York. According to the records, she was not able due to Arthur Kahn’s unstable financial situation. In fact, she supported him financially during his first years in the United States, even though he was a practicing physician in New York City.

While living in New York between 1889 and 1900, Arthur Kahn travelled to Germany at least once, in 1896. After permanently returning to Germany in 1900, Arthur Kahn settled together with his family in Berlin-Charlottenburg where he established himself as a writer.

During his time in Berlin, he became part of the Jewish Community and later a member of the Israelitischer Religionsverein Charlottenburg e.V., a rather Orthodox-minded association. In 1913, Arthur Kahn was part of a group of Berlin Jews who (re)established the Chewra Kadisha, a traditional burial society. Kahn was also engaged in many other social projects. In 1903, he became the founder of the Hilfsverein für die juedischen Taubstummen in Deutschland (Friends for Deaf and Mute Jews in Germany), followed by the Jüdische Altershilfe (Jewish Senior Aid) in 1913. Furthermore, he was associated with the Verein zur Förderung der Bodenkultur (Society for the Advancement of Soil Culture), the Montefiore-Loge, and the Verein zur Erhaltung des überlieferten Judentums (Society for the Conservation of Traditional Judaism).

Arthur Kahn died in Berlin on July 16, 1928, two days after his wife, Hedwig Kahn had passed away. He and his wife are buried in the Jewish cemetary in Berlin Weissensee.

Fritz Kahn

Fritz Kahn was born in Halle on September 29, 1888 to Arthur Kahn and his wife Hedwig Kahn (née Schmul). He first attended school in Halle, and later the Sophien-Gymnasium in Berlin. After graduating school in 1907, Fritz Kahn studied medicine. He finished his studies completing his dissertation on Das Versehen der Schwangeren in Volksglaube und Dichtung in 1912, and started to practice as a gynecologist in Berlin.

During his studies, Fritz Kahn became involved with writing articles on popular sciences. Some of his early writings on the subjects of astronomy and aviation were published as articles . Besides his dissertation, his first book, Die Milchstrasse, focusing on astronomy, was published in 1914, followed in 1919 by Die Zelle, which deals with the function of the human cell. In 1920 he published a book on the Race question, Die Juden als Rasse und Kulturvolk. One of his most well-known works, Das Leben des Menschen, a five volume edition on the human body, was published between 1922 and 1932. Around 1914, Fritz Kahn served in the military during World War I. Some of his war experiences were reflected in articles as well.

Shortly before Hitler came on power in 1933, Fritz Kahn travelled to Palestine, where he started to work on his manuscript Die Naturgeschichte Palestinas (The Natural History of Palestine). Because of the political situation in Germany, he was not able to return there. Eventually, he became a citizen of Palestine and settled in Jerusalem. In 1939, Fritz Kahn left Palestine for France and Portugal before he was able to immigrate to the United States early in 1941 with the help of Varian Fry and Albert Einstein.

Following his arrival in New York, Fritz Kahn was not only able to continue his carrier as a writer, but moreover was viewed as one of the world’s foremost popular writers on medical and biological subjects. Several of his publications were translated into different languages. He lectured frequently at various assemblies, conferences and schools. He also appeared in radio broadcasts where he discussed medical and popular scientific questions. The function of the human body was a common topic in most of Fritz Kahn’s writings, including such works of his as Our Sex Life (1939), Man In Structure And Function (1943), and The Human Body (1966).

Fritz Kahn, who was married to Irma Glogau, died in Lugano, Switzerland on January 14, 1968.

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Scope and Contents

The Arthur and Fritz Kahn Collection documents the lives of these two authors and physicians. The collection has been arranged into two series.

Series I: Arthur Kahn contains records concerning his professional work and private life. The bulk of the records consist of written material, both published and unpublished. The series is further divided into three subseries: Personal Papers, Publications, and Writings.

The larger series, Fritz Kahn, is arranged in four subseries: Personal Papers, Articles, General Writings, and The Natural History of Palestine. As is the case with Series I, the bulk of the records are written material, including prose, scientific articles, essays, and notes. The largest section is composed of records pertaining to Fritz Kahn's unpublished text, The Natural History of Palestine. Handwritten and typed drafts, photographs with accompanying material, detailed illustrations, and clippings may be found in this subseries.

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This collection is arranged in two series.

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Access and Use

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the “Request” button`

Access Restrictions

Researchers must use microfilm (MF 746)

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

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This collection is available on 8 reels of microfilm:

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Arthur and Fritz Kahn Collection; AR 7144/MF 746; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Container List


Series I: Arthur Kahn, 1885-1938

This series in German and English.
0.75 linear feet


Scope and Content:

This series documents Arthur Kahn's professional and personal life. The bulk of these records consists of written material, such as published articles, essays and prose, and several unpublished drafts and manuscripts. There are also personal documents belonging to Arthur Kahn and other members of his family, clippings concerning Kahn’s writings as well as him as an individual, and correspondence among colleagues, family and friends. Correspondence between Arthur and Hedwig Kahn is especially well represented.

Subseries 1: Personal Papers, 1885-1928

This subseries is in German and English.
Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 is composed of materials concerning Arthur Kahn and his family. This subseries is arranged in two sections: Documents, which holds personal papers such as business cards, death certificates, academic records, and genealogical notes, and Correspondence, which contains letters sent from his friends and colleagues. Much of the correspondence is between Arthur and Hedwig Kahn, his wife. These letters mainly cover the time frame between 1889 and 1904 while he lived apart from Hedwig in New York.

A) Documents

Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Arthur Kahn undated, 1886-1904, 1928
1 2 Babette Hahn 1890
1 3 Baron Emden 1896
1 4 Charitable Organizations undated, 1925
Box   Title Date
OS   Chewra Kadischa Poster undated
Box Folder Title Date
1 5 Friends of Arthur Kahn undated, 1895, 1916-1921
1 6 Genealogical Material 1887-1914
1 7 Postcards of Bingen undated
1 8 Printed Material undated, 1899, 1911

B) Correspondence

Box Folder Title Date
1 9 Emanuel Edelstein to Arthur Kahn undated
1 10 Babette and Adele Hahn to Arthur and Hedwig Kahn undated, 1900
1 11 Arthur Kahn to Edgar Kahn 1906
1 12 Arthur Kahn to Hedwig Kahn undated, 1889-1905
1 13 Hedwig Kahn to Arthur Kahn undated, 1889-1899
1 14 Julianne and Rosalie Kahn to Arthur Kahn undated, 1885-1890
1 15 Miscellaneous Correspondence 1889-1894, 1908-1910

Subseries 2: Publications, 1895-1939

This subseries is in German.
Scope and Content:

This subseries holds Arthur Kahn’s published writings. Within this subseries are a variety of essays and novels, most of which were published in serial format. Many of the writings are incomplete. There are also articles by and about Kahn that were published in German newspapers and German-language American newspapers. Also included are several obituaries; however, the majority of the material concerning Arthur Kahn’s death may be found within Series II: Fritz Kahn.

Box Folder Title Date
1 16 Articles-Germany undated, 1901-1919
1 17 Articles-Personal 1903-1925
1 18 Articles-United States 1895-1900
1 19 Chewra Kadischa (Berlin) 1913
1 20 Prose undated, 1902-1909
1 21 Reviews 1905-1912
1 22 Synagogenweihe Berlin 1908

Subseries 3: Writings, undated and 1889

This subseries is in German.
Scope and Content:

Subseries 3 is comprised of typescripts and handwritten drafts of written material by Arthur Kahn. Within this subseries are both titled and untitled pieces. Almost none of the drafts are dated. There are several types of written work contained here, such as prose, essays, handwritten drafts, and poetry. Subjects covered include various Jewish topics and life in the United States in general, and New York City, in particular. Of interest is an extensive travel diary that spans the time which Kahn spent on the boat during his first journey to the United States in August 1889. Please note that untitled drafts have had their contents summarized by an intern during initial processing. These lists are intended to provide a general understanding of the texts and have been placed within the collection for reference purposes only.

Box Folder Title Date
1 23 Drafts (untitled) undated
1 24 Essays (titled)-A through D undated
1 25 Essays (titled)-E through Z undated
1 26 Lectures 1901-1908
1 27 Obituaries and Memorial Notices 1928 and 1938
1 28 Poetry undated
1 29 Prose (titled)-A through G undated
1 30 Prose (titled)-L through W undated
1 31 Prose (untitled) undated
1 32 Travel Diary 1889
1 33 Miscellaneous undated
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Series II: Fritz Kahn, 1896-1978

This series in German, English, and French.
3.25 linear feet


Scope and Content:

Series II is the larger series in this collection and is composed of personal documents, personal and professional correspondence, articles, essays, and other writings. The bulk of the series consists of material used for Fritz Kahn’s work concerning Palestine entitled, The Natural History of Palestine. These documents exist in the form of handwritten drafts, typed sections and portions of a book that was rebound for preservation purposes. Although Kahn worked on this particular manuscript for over thirty years, the book was never published. Several titles are used throughout, including the original German, Die Naturgeschichte, an English translation, The Natural History of Palestine, and another English version, The Natural History of the Holy Land.

Subseries 1: Personal Papers, 1896-1959

This subseries is in German, English, and French.
Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 Personal Papers is arranged in three sections: Documents, Personal Correspondence, and Professional Correspondence. The first section contains affidavits of support (including a photocopied one from Albert Einstein), academic records, and travel documents. The bulk of the subseries is correspondence. Personal correspondence holds letters to Fritz, Arthur and Hedwig Kahn and to his brother, Edgar. Within the professional correspondence may be found letters to specific individuals. Most of the correspondence is with various institutions and organizations, such as the Keren-Hajessod and the U.O.B.B. Loge of Berlin. In addition, there is correspondence between Fritz Kahn and several publishers. Editorial correspondence includes discussions concerning his unpublished comedy, Mutterschutz. Other topics include payments due and reprinting some already published work. Please note that Kahn placed much of the correspondence from individuals (usually praising his work) into scrapbooks, marked I and II, respectively.

A) Documents

Box Folder Title Date
1 34 Academic Records 1907
1 35 Affidavits of Support 1937-1940
1 36 Clippings-General undated, 1927-1934
1 37 Clippings-Palestine undated, 1928-1945, 1956-1959
1 38 Clippings-Plants and Animals 1915-1935
1 39 Portrait 1958 September 29
1 40 Travel Document 1940 June 19

B) Personal Correspondence

Box Folder Title Date
1 41 Arthur Kahn to Fritz Kahn 1898 January-1904 March
1 42 Fritz Kahn to Arthur Kahn 1898 July-1899 July
1 43 Fritz Kahn to Arthur and Hedwig Kahn undated, 1903-1909
1 44 Fritz Kahn to Edgar Kahn 1896 May, 1903 December
1 45 Fritz Kahn to Hedwig Kahn undated, 1897 December
1 46 Letters of Condolence 1928 July-October
1 47 Miscellaneous 1927 August, 1940 January-1941 March

C) Professional Correspondence

Box Folder Title Date
1 48 Anstalt für Aufführungsrecht 1912 September-1913 March
1 49 Keren-Hajessod 1922 November-1924 August
1 50 Lectures 1921 July-1932 October
1 51 Lodges 1921 December-1932 March
1 52 Publishers 1922 March-1930 January
1 53 Reclams Universum 1923 January-February
1 54 Reichsausschuss für Hygenische Volksbelehrung 1927 November-1933 February
1 55 Reprints of Written Works 1924 November-1931 January
1 56 Scientific Topics 1922 June-1932 September
1 57 Scrapbook I 1910-1936
1 58 Scrapbook II 1921-1932
1 59 Wauchope, Arthur 1930s
1 60 Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland 1921 December-1931 February

Subseries 2: Articles, 1909-1968

This subseries is in German with some English.
Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 is composed of clippings and transcripts regarding Fritz Kahn’s work, in particular his writings on the popular sciences. The subseries is arranged in three sections: Topical Articles, About Fritz Kahn, and Miscellaneous. The bulk of the first section is articles concerned with science, but there are also articles covering the subjects of Jewish History, Aviation, Palestine, and World History. In addition, articles on Kahn’s work for the U.O.B.B. Jehuda-Halevi Loge are held here. Section B contains general articles about Fritz Kahn as a writer and illustrator and reviews of his many publications. Within the last section are clippings and other printed material that do not fit into the criteria of the other sections. These records include promotional material for Kahn’s books in the form of pamphlets, newspaper advertisements, lecture announcements, and book jackets

A) Topical Articles

Box Folder Title Date
2 1 Astronomy 1909-1951
2 2 Aviation 1910-1916
2 3 Jewish History 1920-1924
2 4 Notable Persons undated
2 5 Palestine undated
2 6 Popular Science-Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung undated
2 7 Popular Science-Kosmos. Handweiser für Naturfreunde 1917-1928
2 8 Popular Science-Kosmos Kalenderblätter 1928-1929
2 9 Popular Science-Miscellaneous Publications 1924-1958
2 10 Race 1943
2 11 U.O.B.B. Jehuda-Halevi Loge, Berlin 1924-1929
2 12 World War I 1914

B) About Fritz Kahn

Box Folder Title Date
2 13 Articles 1924-1931, 1943, 1960
2 14 Reviews-Das Buch through Der menschliche undated, 1915-1951
2 15 Reviews-Die Milchstrasse through Unser Geschlechtsleben undated, 1915-1951
2 16 Reviews-Miscellaneous undated, 1915-1951

C) Miscellaneous

Box Folder Title Date
2 17 Book Jackets 1920-1939
2 18 Booklets 1929-1930
2 19 Lecture Announcements 1922
2 20 Newspaper Advertisements 1943, 1954
2 21 Offprints 1927-1929
2 22 Poster undated
2 23 Promotional Material 1920-1968
Box   Title Date
OS 43   Scrapbooks 1906-1934

Subseries 3: General Writings, 1921-1922

This subseries is in German.
Scope and Content:

Subseries 3 is comprised of examples of Fritz Kahn’s writings, in the form of both handwritten and typed drafts. The subseries has been further divided into three sections containing prose, drafts, and miscellaneous writings. Section A holds two typed versions of a comedic play written by Fritz Kahn and Kari David, entitled Mutterschutz. There is also a handwritten draft of a short piece of fiction, attributed to Fritz’s brother, Edgar Kahn. Section B: Drafts contains essays on a variety of topics, including Jewish emancipation, archaeology, and race relations. Of interest is an autobiographical piece by Kahn that describes his upbringing and professional interests. Within the miscellaneous section are manuscripts concerning Jewish life, history and culture.

A) Prose

Box Folder Title Date
2 24 Im Paradies! (attributed to Edgar Kahn) 1921-1922
2 25 Mutterschutz 1921-1922
2 26 Mutterschutz-Scenerie zum Dritten Akt 1921-1922

B) Drafts

Box Folder Title Date
2 27 Archäologie undated
2 28 Biographisches über Kahn undated
2 29 Denkschrift über Rasse und Staatsbürgerliche Praxis undated
2 30 Emanzipation der Juden undated
2 31 Jüdisches Leben in Skandinavien und Afghanistan undated
2 32 Vorschag für den Ausbau Jerusalem undated

C) Miscellaneous

Box Folder Title Date
2 33 Die Brücke undated
2 34 Die Juden als Rasse und Kulturvolk undated
2 35 Die Weihe der jüdischen Geschichte undated
2 36 Israels Martyrium undated
2 37 Judentum und Weltkultur undated
2 38 Judentum und Weltkultur in Vergangenheit Gegenwart und Zukunft undated
2 39 Quotations from Tanakh undated
2 40 Vortrag für Keren-Hajessod undated

Subseries 4: The Natural History of Palestine, 1930-1978

This suberies is in German and English.
Scope and Content:

Subseries 4 is among the largest in the collection and holds various drafts of the manuscript entitled The Natural History of Palestine. In addition research notes, sketchbooks, photographs, and illustrations may be found in this subseries. Fritz Kahn worked on this manuscript for over thirty years, beginning in 1932 when he first visited Palestine. There exists no complete version of the book, but a large number of chapters in various forms are found throughout this subseries. During processing, two large sections that were previously bound were rebound for preservation purposes.

The subseries has been arranged into six sections, the final five reflecting specific themes within the book. The titles are as follows: General, Introductory Material, Geology of Palestine, Climate of Palestine, Plants of Palestine, and Animals of Palestine. Within the first are illustrations pertaining to the entire text, book covers, and the two preservation copies, Geologie II and Klima. The introductory material consists of drafts of introductions, prefaces and other preliminary writings. The remaining four sections contain various drafts, sketches, photographs and notes.

A) General

Box Folder Title Date
2 41 Book-Gelogie II 1930s
2 42 Book-Klima III 1930s
2 43 Book Covers undated
2 44 Illustration Indexes undated
2 45 Letter to Fred Grubel (Leo Baeck Institute) 1978 November 29
2 46 Outline 1930s
2 47 Reprint of Plates undated
Box Folder Title Date
3 1 Sketchbook and Notes undated
3 2 Statement abtou the Author 1930s
3 3 Table of Contents 1930s
3 4 Title Cover 1930s

B) Introductory Material

Box Folder Title Date
3 5 Vorwort 1940
3 6 Einleitung 1936, 1966-1967
3 7 Introduction 1930s
3 8 Anfang 1930s

C) Geology of Palestine

Box Folder Title Date
3 9 Table of Contents 1930s
3 10 Geologie-Part I undated
3 11 Geologie-Part II undated
3 12 Chapters 1 through 3 undated
3 13 Chapter 4 (multiple versions) undated
3 14 Illustrations (with notes) undated
3 15 Maps undated and 1967
3 16 Photographs-Loose undated
3 17 Photographs-Notes undated
3 18 Miscellaneous undated

D) Climate of Palestine

Box Folder Title Date
3 19 Table of Contents undated
3 20 Climate-Part I undated
3 21 Climate-Part II undated
3 22 Climate-Miscellaneous undated
3 23 Illustrations (with ntoes) undated
3 24 Photographs-Loose undated
3 25 Photographs-Notes undated
3 26 Miscellaneous undated

E) Plants of Palestine

Box Folder Title Date
3 27 Table of Contents undated
3 28 Illustrations (with notes) undated
3 29 Manuscript (incomplete) undated
3 30 Manuscript Chapters (English) undated
3 31 Manuscript Chapters (German) undated
3 32 Photographs-Loose undated
3 33 Photographs-Notes undated
3 34 Miscellaneous undated

F) Animals of Palestine

Box Folder Title Date
3 35 Table of Contents undated
3 36 Illustrations undated
3 37 Illustrations (with notes) undated
3 38 Photographs-Loose undated
3 39 Photographs-notes undated
3 40 Miscellaneous undated
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