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Anderson, Larz (15 August 1866–13 April 1937), diplomat and philanthropist, was born in Paris, France, the son of Nicholas Longworth Anderson, a highly decorated Civil War officer, and Elizabeth Coles Kilgour. Anderson grew up in a socially prominent and public-spirited Virginia and Ohio family known primarily for its military exploits and philanthropy. His notable forebears included soldier ...

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Edward W. Bok. In the background are, from left to right, Senators George H. Moses, James Reed, and T. H. Caraway. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103937).

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Bok, Edward William (09 October 1863–09 January 1930), editor, philanthropist, and peace advocate, was born in den Helder, Holland, the son of William John Hidde Bok and Sieke Gertrude van Herwerden, who, having lost their inherited fortune through unwise investments, immigrated to the United States in 1870. They settled in Brooklyn, where Bok and his older brother learned English in public school. With his father at first unable to find steady employment, Bok delivered newspapers, worked in a bakery, and wrote up childrens’ parties for the ...

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Boudinot, Elias (02 May 1740–24 October 1821), statesman and philanthropist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Elias Boudinot III, a silversmith and postmaster in Philadelphia, and Elizabeth Williams, daughter of a planter in Antigua, West Indies. He was fourth in a line of notable Elias Boudinots, the first a Huguenot refugee who moved from London to New York about 1687. Over the generations Boudinots became linked through marriage with a number of prominent families, including those of Thomas Bradbury Chandler, ...

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McGeorge Bundy Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Bundy, McGeorge (30 March 1919–16 September 1996), presidential foreign affairs adviser and philanthropist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Harvey Hollister Bundy, a highly successful lawyer who served as a special assistant to Secretary of War Henry Stimson during World War II, and Katherine Putnam Bundy, who was related to several of Boston's most socially prominent families. He grew up in a noisy, high-spirited household where he and his siblings were encouraged to join their elders in debate about history and politics around the dinner table. (His older brother, ...

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Coddington, William ( October 1603–01 November 1678), founder of Newport and governor of Rhode Island, was born in rural Lincolnshire, England, the son of Robert Coddington, a prosperous yeoman, and Margaret (maiden name unknown). As a result of his mother’s advantageous remarriages, William Coddington entered the uppermost commercial circles of the nearby city of Boston and learned some law. Steadily, his ambition and prosperity boosted his estimate of his importance, ultimately to gentry level. In 1625 or earlier, he married Mary (probably Burt), who bore two sons, both of whom died in infancy. He also heard the preaching of ...

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Codrington, Christopher, Jr. (1668–07 April 1710), scholar, soldier, and governor general of the Leeward Islands, was born in St. John’s parish, Barbados, the son of Christopher Codrington, a plantation owner and governor general of the Leeward Islands, and Gertrude (maiden name unknown). Codrington’s grandfather was one of the first English settlers of Barbados. Codrington spent his early years studying with a tutor, but his early education was also influenced by the unique social environment in which he lived, surrounded by and in regular contact with a substantial slave majority, not only on his father’s plantation, but across the island. At age twelve Codrington was sent to England to continue his education, entering a private school near London. In 1685 he began his studies as a gentleman-commoner of Christ Church in the University of Oxford. By 1690 Codrington was formally elected as a Fellow at All Souls College, and he earned his master of arts degree in 1694. While at Oxford, Codrington earned a reputation as a scholar and as a wit....

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Cooper, Edward (26 October 1824–25 February 1905), businessman, philanthropist, and politician, was born in New York City, the son of Peter Cooper, a businessman, philanthropist, and public figure, and Sarah Bedell. After attending public school in New York City, the younger Cooper enrolled at Columbia College, but he earned no degree. At Columbia College, Cooper met ...

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Peter Cooper. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-11083).

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Cooper, Peter (12 February 1791–04 April 1883), inventor, manufacturer, and civic benefactor, was born in New York City, the son of John Cooper and Margaret Campbell. His father was a struggling merchant who moved the family successively to Peekskill, Catskill, and finally Newburgh, New York, in search of financial success. Assisting his father in a series of occupations (hatter, brewer, shopkeeper, and brickmaker), Cooper obtained valuable practical work experience. Given his family’s relative poverty and constant movement, Cooper was only able to obtain a year’s worth of formal schooling; this deficiency in his formal education haunted him throughout his life....

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Copley, Ira Clifton (25 October 1864–02 November 1947), newspaper publisher, congressman, public utilities executive, and philanthropist, was born in Copley Township, Knox County, Illinois, the son of Ira Birdsall Copley and Ellen Madeline Whiting, farmers. When Copley was two he was struck with scarlet fever, which left him blind. When he was three, the family moved to Aurora, Illinois, where he received treatment for his eyes. Even with the care of an eye specialist, his complete blindness lasted five years. With the move to Aurora, his father and his mother’s brother assumed ownership of the Aurora Illinois Gas Light Company, the beginning of a large utility company that Ira would one day manage....

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Gerard, James Watson (25 August 1867–06 September 1951), diplomat, politician, and philanthropist, was born in Geneseo, New York, the son of James Watson Gerard, a respected lawyer and author, and Jenny Jones Angel. He studied at Columbia University (A.B., 1890; A.M. in political science, 1891) and the New York Law School (LL.B., 1892). Admitted to the New York bar in 1892, he began a long association with Bowers & Sands, a law firm founded by his grandfather. In 1901 he married Mary “Molly” Daly, daughter of ...

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Griffith, Goldsborough Sappington (04 November 1814–24 February 1904), civic and religious leader, prison reformer, and philanthropist, was born in Harford County, Maryland, the son of James Griffith and Sarah Cox. His father died in the War of 1812, leaving Griffith, not one year old, the youngest of eight. His mother subsequently remarried and, when Griffith was twelve, moved to Baltimore with her husband and family of fourteen children. Griffith left school and obtained regular employment in a tobacco manufacturing house to help support the family. He continued his education in night school and devoted his leisure time to reading. Several years later he found a rewarding position as a paperhanger and, at the age of twenty-two, with $500 in savings and a knowledgeable partner, began a prosperous paperhanging and upholstery business. In 1854 he sold this thriving business to his half brothers and turned his attentions to his very successful wholesale and retail carpet business in which he was joined by his nephews....

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Hagar, Jonathan (1714–06 November 1775), land speculator, assemblyman, and town developer, was born in the duchy of Westphalia, Germany; the names of his parents are unknown. Hagar (also spelled Hager) arrived as a freeman in Philadelphia from Rotterdam on the ship Harle on 1 September 1736, at the age of twenty-two. He was one of the many German-speaking settlers who began to migrate to the western areas of Maryland in the 1730s and 1740s. While most of these settlers first spent a few years in eastern Pennsylvania (sometimes as indentured servants to pay for their passage), high land prices in that settled land forced new arrivals to establish their own homes farther west and south....

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Heathcote, Caleb (06 March 1666–01 March 1721), merchant, manor lord, and Anglican activist, was born in Derbyshire, England, the son of Gilbert Heathcote, a trader in hides and iron who served as mayor of Chesterfield, England, and Anne Dickens. While living in England Heathcote became a merchant specializing in trade with New York, where he settled in 1692 after the woman to whom he was betrothed fell in love with his brother Samuel and married him instead....

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Herbert Hoover. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-24155 DLC).

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Hoover, Herbert Clark (10 August 1874–20 October 1964), engineer, philanthropist, and thirty-first president of the United States, was born in West Branch, Iowa, the son of Jesse Clark Hoover and Hulda[h] Minthorn, farmers. Orphaned at the age of nine, he lived with a variety of relatives in Iowa and finally spent his teenage years in Newberg and Salem, Oregon. Although his parents belonged to a “progressive” branch of Quakers who permitted some organ music and gospel hymns at their meeting house, Hoover’s religious training was quite rigorous under the tutelage of his mother, an ordained Quaker minister....

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John Kearsley. Engraving, 1874. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B016144).

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Kearsley, John (1684–11 January 1772), physician, politician, and philanthropist, was baptized in the village of Greatham, County Durham, England. His father was John Kearsley, an Anglican minister; his mother’s name is unknown. Kearsley’s father provided two of his sons with a medical education; young John studied in London without earning a degree. For a time he practiced medicine in England, but in 1711 he emigrated and settled in Philadelphia....