- Kahn, E. J. (Ely Jacques), 1916-
- Call number
- MssCol 1611
- Physical description
- 15.5 linear feet (114 boxes, 4 cartons)
- Materials in English
- Preferred Citation
E.J. Kahn papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library
- Manuscripts and Archives Division
- Access to materials
- Advance notice required. Request access to this collection.Restrictions apply
Ely Jacques Kahn, Jr., the son of the eminent Art-Decoarchitect, Ely Jacques Kahn, was a prolific free-lance journalist, author of 27 non-fiction books, and longtime staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. The bulk of the papers reflect Kahn's research for his wide-ranging free-lance articles, New Yorker columns and articles, and books.
One of The New Yorker's most popular and prolific staff writers, Ely Jacques Kahn, Jr. published twenty seven books - (some of which were based on articles previously featured in The New Yorker) - and wrote on a wide variety of subjects in hundreds of articles and profiles for The New Yorker and other periodicals. Born in Manhattan in 1916, Kahn was the son of the prominent architect, Ely Jacques Kahn. His mother, Elsie Plaut Mayer, was a writer. His paternal grandfather, Jacques Kahn, came to the United States from Austria after the Civil War and went into the business of importing ornamental glass from France and Belgium. Kahn's mother's family was French and named Lazard. Thanks to this cosmopolitan background Kahn grew up fluent in French and German as well as English.
Kahn graduated in 1933 from the Horace Mann High School in New York and received the A. B. degree from Harvard in 1937. While still a senior there he began his long and affectionate association with The New Yorker when he was he was invited by St. Clair McKelway to join the staff as a reporter for the "Talk of the Town column". His debut article, "My African Potentate", appeared in the issue of April 3, 1937, and his first New Yorker profile appeared in 1938, a year after his graduation from Harvard. After the outbreak of World War II in 1941 he served in the South Pacific as a writer with the rank of chief warrant officer. While in the army he wrote accounts of his experiences in the South Pacific, among them, G. I. Jungle, and McNair, Educator of an Army, which appeared in The New Yorker and other periodicals. He was discharged from the army in 1945.
Among the books Kahn published in his long writing career are his first book, The Army Life (1942); The Peculiar War (1952) on the war in Korea; A Reporter Here and There (1961); The Stragglers (1962), a compelling book about Japanese soldiers who, many years after the end of the war, were discovered hiding out in the caves and jungles of Guam and the Philippines and were repatriated to Japan. (Kahn also wrote an expressionistic play based on the book); The World of Swope, (1964); The Separated People: A Look at Contemporary South Africa (1968); Harvard Through Change and Through Storm (1969); The China Hands: America's Foreign Service Officers and What Befell Them (1975); About The New Yorker and Me (1979); and, Supermarketeer of the World, (1991).
Kahn died in 1994 in Holyoke, Massachusetts, of injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
Using the collection
LocationManuscripts and Archives Division
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018-2788
Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room, Third Floor, Room 328
Access to materialsAdvance notice required. Request access to this collection.
Box 108 is closed until the year 2150.