1-20 of 95 results  for:

  • Social welfare and reform x
  • Business and finance x
Clear all

Article

Astor, John Jacob, III (10 June 1822–22 February 1890), capitalist and philanthropist, was born in New York City, the son of William Backhouse Astor and Margaret Rebecca Armstrong. The family was noted for great wealth and public charity. Astor graduated from Columbia College in 1839, and after studying at the University of Göttingen for a short time and traveling through Europe he earned a law degree at Harvard in 1842. He practiced briefly as an attorney specializing in commercial transactions and then entered his father’s burgeoning real estate office. In 1846 Astor married the socially prominent Charlotte Augusta Gibbes of South Carolina. They had one child, ...

Image

William Waldorf Astor. Second from right, with Lady Astor, far right, and Henry Ford and Clara Ford. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98997).

Article

Astor, William Waldorf (31 March 1848–18 October 1919), businessman and philanthropist, was born in New York City, the son of John Jacob Astor, a businessman, and Charlotte Gibbes. Astor received his education at home under private tutors and studied law at Columbia University. He worked at law for a short while but found his first real calling in Republican politics. He served a term as a New York State assemblyman beginning in 1877, and two years later he was elected to the state senate. Twice he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, but he was defeated each time. The press and his political enemies found Astor’s inherited wealth an easy target for excoriation, and the public humiliation he suffered at their hands was the first step on the path toward his alienation from everything American. By all accounts Astor was extremely sensitive and simply could not endure criticism. Nor did he find satisfaction in his 1878 marriage to Mary Dahlgren Paul, although the union produced four children. The marriage suffered as shy Mary Astor was forced into a contest with her husband’s Aunt Caroline for the position of most important society matron in New York’s upper crust—the famous “Four Hundred Families.” In addition, the Astors were concerned for the safety of their children, whom they feared might become victims of a kidnapping for ransom....

Article

Babson, Roger Ward (06 July 1875–05 March 1967), businessman, author, and philanthropist, was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Babson, a dry-goods merchant and wholesaler, and Ellen Stearns. As a child, Babson spent his summers in Gloucester on his paternal grandfather’s farm, an experience that later prompted him to write that he “owed more to that farm than any educational institution.” Off the farm, the young Babson, who was a rowdy albeit “nervous” boy, worried his mother by associating not with other middle-class Yankee children but with the “Gould Courters,” an Irish street gang....

Article

Baldwin, John (13 October 1799–28 December 1884), manufacturer and philanthropist, was born in North Branford, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Baldwin, a blacksmith, and Rosanna Meloy. Baldwin’s parents, devout Congregationalists, espoused antiliquor, antitobacco, and antislavery beliefs, which he, too, would champion. He had a conversion experience and became an evangelical Methodist at eighteen. After briefly attending an academy during his late teens, Baldwin taught school in New York, Maryland, and finally Litchfield, Connecticut. In January 1828 he married Mary D. Chappel of New London, Connecticut, herself a Methodist of humble station. They had seven children....

Article

Bernays, Doris Elsa Fleischman (18 July 1892–10 July 1980), pioneer public relations counsel and early feminist, was born in New York City, the daughter of Samuel E. Fleischman, an attorney, and Harriet Rosenthal. Doris studied music and planned to become an opera singer when she completed her bachelor’s degree at Barnard College in 1913. Instead, that same year she joined the ...

Article

Bishop, Charles Reed (25 January 1822–07 June 1915), banker, cabinet minister, and philanthropist, was born near Glens Falls, New York, the son of Samuel Bishop, a toll collector on the Hudson River, and Maria Reed. Charles’s mother died when he was two years old, and his father remarried. He was cared for first by an aunt and then by his paternal grandfather on whose farm he received an education in hard work and practical business. His only formal education was at Glens Falls Academy, which he attended in the seventh and eighth grades. Around 1838, after leaving school, he became a clerk in a mercantile house in Warrensburgh, New York, where he learned the intricacies of bookkeeping, inventory, and other business skills. In 1842 he moved to Sandy Hill, New York, to take a job as a bookkeeper and head clerk....

Article

Blackwell, Henry Browne (04 May 1825–07 September 1909), social reformer, editor, and entrepreneur, was born in Bristol, England, the son of Samuel Blackwell, a sugar refiner and antislavery reformer, and Hannah Lane. After business reversals the family moved in 1832 to New York, where their household became a haven for abolitionists, women’s rights advocates, and self-emancipated slaves. In 1838 the debt-ridden Blackwells moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. When his father died a few months later, thirteen-year-old Henry went to work to support the family, initially as a clerk in a flour mill. In 1845 he joined the two illiterate millers as a partner, and two years later his brother made him a partner in a hardware firm. Within a few years the enterprising Henry (“Harry” to his friends) had his finger in many economic pies—among them an agricultural publishing firm, land speculation, and sugar beet production (perhaps after his father, who had sought an alternative to slave-based sugar cane). At the same time Harry moved to the forefront of women’s rights agitation and abolitionism....

Article

Burns, Eveline M. (16 March 1900–2 Sept. 1985), economist and Social Security expert, was born Eveline Mabel Richardson in London, the daughter of Frederick Haig Richardson and Eveline Faulkner. Her mother died of complications from her birth, and her father, who administered an office in London that sold silver flatware, remarried the next year. She characterized her father as a very conservative man who aimed to control his household. He did not encourage secondary education; he did not think women should work; he did not approve of government provision of services. Viewing her subsequent life choices, it is clear that Eveline did not let her father control her or her political views....

Article

Campbell, Persia Crawford (15 March 1898–02 March 1974), economist and consumer leader, was born in Nerrigundah, Australia, the daughter of Rodolph Campbell and Beatrice Harriet Hunt, schoolteachers. She was the first of two children. Her parents were strong Presbyterians and instilled in her at an early age a love of learning. Before she entered high school her father died, leaving her mother as the sole breadwinner. Persia tried to help by making and selling dolls’ clothes. With her excellent grades she was able to enter a state scholarship high school for girls from families of modest incomes....

Article

Carse, Matilda Bradley (19 November 1835–03 June 1917), temperance worker, editor, and entrepreneur, was born near Belfast, Ireland, the daughter of John Bradley and Catherine Cleland, Scottish merchants whose ancestors had migrated to Ireland in the seventeenth century. Educated in Ireland, Carse emigrated in 1858 to Chicago. In 1861 she married Thomas Carse, a railroad manager with whom she had three sons. After her husband’s death in 1870, her youngest son was killed by a drunken drayman, propelling Carse into the temperance cause just as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was organizing. She devoted much of the rest of her life to business and volunteer activities related to that organization....

Article

Chamberlain, Mariam K. (24 April 1918–02 April 2013), feminist economist, foundation officer, and women’s studies advocate, was born Mariam Kenosian in Chelsea, Massachusetts, the second child and only daughter of Avack Kenosian, a factory worker, and Zabel Kenosian, a homemaker. Her parents immigrated to the United States in 1912 and 1913 in the midst of ongoing Turkish violence against the Armenian community. Despite her parents’ poverty and lack of support for women’s higher education, Mariam was the valedictorian of her class at Chelsea High School. She was accepted to Radcliffe College in 1936, paying her deposit with a $50 prize she had won as the first girl marbles champion of Chelsea. Living at home, Mariam won scholarships, borrowed, and worked as a secretary, completing a B.A. in economics in June 1940. In 1941 she was accepted for the Ph.D. program in economics at Harvard University....

Article

Church, Robert Reed, Jr. (26 October 1885–17 April 1952), politician and businessman, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of Robert Reed Church, Sr., a banker and businessman, and Anna Sue Wright, a school principal. The wealth and prestige of his father afforded young Church opportunities not available to most African-American children of his day. After attending a parochial school in Memphis and Oberlin Academy in Oberlin, Ohio, Church studied at Morgan Park Military Academy in Chicago, Illinois, and then enrolled in the Packard School of Business in New York City. He completed the business course and worked on Wall Street for several years before returning to Memphis in 1909 to help his father in the management of the Solvent Savings Bank and Trust Company and other family enterprises. In 1911 he married Sara Paroda Johnson, a schoolteacher; they had one child....

Article

Coffin, Charles Fisher (03 April 1823–09 September 1916), banker, Quaker minister, and philanthropist, was born at New Garden, Guilford County, North Carolina, the son of Elijah Coffin, a teacher and banker, and Naomi Hiatt, a Quaker minister. In 1824 his family moved to Milton, Indiana, and in 1833 they went to Cincinnati for a year before moving to Richmond, Indiana, where Charles would live for the next half-century....

Article

Coker, James Lide (03 January 1837–25 June 1918), entrepreneur and philanthropist, was born on a plantation near Hartsville, South Carolina, the son of Caleb Coker, a planter and merchant, and Hannah Lide. Coker’s father also served as a director of the Chersaw and Darlington (S.C.) Railroad. His wealth afforded Coker considerable advantages that he used and built upon. His education was similar to that of other sons of South Carolina’s planter elite. Schooled in a local, privately supported academy, he then attended The Citadel. However, in 1857 he took the unusual step of going to Harvard to take courses in chemistry and botany, working under ...

Article

Colgate, James Boorman (04 March 1818–07 February 1904), capitalist and philanthropist, was born in New York City, the son of William Colgate, a prominent manufacturer, and Mary Gilbert. Educated at local schools and in Connecticut, he abandoned formal schooling at the age of sixteen to enter the commission house of Boorman, Johnson & Company. For a number of years he remained with the firm, which was headed by a relative, James Boorman. After returning from an extended trip to Europe in 1841–1842, he entered the employment of a wholesale dry-goods firm, where he worked for nine years. In 1844 he married Sarah Ellen Hoyt of Utica, New York; the marriage produced one son before his wife’s death in 1846....

Article

Cone, Moses Herman (29 June 1857–08 December 1908), textile entrepreneur, was born in Jonesboro, Tennessee, the son of Herman Kahn, a Jewish wholesale grocery merchant, and Helen Guggenheimer. Cone’s father was born in Bavaria, and his mother, though born in Virginia, was of German heritage. When Cone’s father moved to the United States, the family name was changed to Cone. Cone was the eldest of thirteen children and spent his formative years in Jonesboro, where his father owned a grocery store. The family moved in 1870 to Baltimore, Maryland, where Cone attended the public schools....

Article

Cope, Caleb Frederick (18 July 1797–12 May 1888), financier and philanthropist, was born in Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, the son of William Cope and Elizabeth Rohrer. After his father’s death during his early years, Cope was cared for by his mother and his maternal grandfather, Frederick Rohrer. He received only a rudimentary education in a one-room schoolhouse and was apprenticed at the age of twelve or thirteen to John Wells, a storekeeper, with whom he remained for four years....

Article

Coram, Thomas (1668–29 March 1751), philanthropist and colony promoter, was born in the Dorsetshire coast village of Lyme Regis, England, the son of John Coram, a mariner, and Spes (maiden name unknown). Coram was primarily self-educated. He went to sea from age eleven to sixteen and was then apprenticed to a shipwright. Coram’s steady rise from humble birth to prominent merchant was due to his great vigor, ambition, and trustworthiness. In 1694 a group of London merchants sent him to Boston as head of a team of shipwrights in order to establish a shipyard. The new governor, ...

Image

W. W. Corcoran. Engraving after drawing by Charles Loring Elliott, 1812-1868. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90033).