Urban J. Kinet Collection
Urbain J. Kinet (1909-1989), born in Belgium, was an avid traveler with an expertise in the physical sciences that fall under the broad category of Geography.

His life of adventure began in 1938 with a prospecting and geologic research position in the Belgian Congo (present day Democratic Republic of the Congo). At the outbreak of World War II, he was drafted by the Allied Forces to lead a large team of Africans through the equatorial rain forest, the lowland savannahs and the East African Highlands to prospect for strategic minerals and crystals needed by the United States armed forces. On his own time, he travelled throughout Africa, an avid climber and explorer of museums, parks and gardens. In 1951 Urbain took a position at the Institute of Scientific Research in Central Africa (IRSAC), eventually becoming the “Chef de Poste” at the research site at Uvira. He remained in Africa until the Belgian Congo became independent.

At the age of 51, Urbain Kinet fled the Congo and took a job across the globe at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. He pursued an American Geography degree at San Francisco State College and also participated in a research expedition to Antarctic which provided the source material for his thesis. He finished out his working life at the University of California Medical Center, all the while traveling the globe with the eye of a researcher, studying the world through the lens of Geology, Volcanology, Biology, Phytogeography, Climatology, Glaciology, Ecology, Lichenology, etc.

“Urbain’s wish to know was insatiable. He had a profound, even blissful, optimism, based on personal courage, extraordinary energy and a capacity for work. He belonged to a vanishing breed of tropical fieldworker and scholar who spent years observing, collecting and studying under the most isolated, severe, and primitive conditions – and relishing every minute of it!” - Dr. Heyneman (from his eulogy for Urbain Kinet: 1989).

Urbain’s wife Gertraude, born in Leipzig and with a rich and interesting story of her own, cataloged the images for this collection.

We have limited the imagery in this digital collection to those images that capture a unique "slice in time”, with human content, due to the extensive database of imagery currently available on the internet.
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