Albert Kahn

Albert Kahn (3 March 1860 – 14 November 1940) was a French banker and philanthropist, known for initiating The Archives of the Planet, a vast photographical project. Spanning 22 years, it resulted in a collection of 72,000 colour photographs and 183,000 meters of film.

In 1909, Kahn travelled with his chauffeur and photographer, Alfred Dutertre, to Japan on business and returned with many photographs of the journey. This prompted him to begin a project collecting a photographic record of the entire Earth. He appointed Jean Brunhes as the project director, and sent photographers to every continent to record images of the planet using the first practical medium for colour photography, Autochrome plates, and early cinematography. Between 1909 and 1931 they collected 72,000 colour photographs and 183,000 meters of film. These form a unique historical record of 50 countries, known as The Archives of the Planet.

Kahn’s photographers began documenting France in 1914, just days before the outbreak of World War I, and by liaising with the military managed to record both the devastation of war and the struggle to continue everyday life and agricultural work.

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