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Childs, George William (12 May 1829–03 February 1894), publisher, biographer, and philanthropist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. The names of his parents are not known. In Recollections (1890), his autobiography, Childs shrouds his family origins in mystery, making no reference to his parents or early childhood, beginning instead with an explanation of how he had had from a young age “a rather remarkable aptitude for business.” At twelve he worked a summer job as an errand boy in a Baltimore bookstore for two dollars a week. He reflects in ...

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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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Marshall Field III In military uniform during World War I. Photograph by Arnold Genthe. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93592).

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Field, Marshall, III (28 September 1893–08 November 1956), investor, newspaper publisher, and philanthropist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Marshall Field II and Albertine Huck. Being the grandson of the first Marshall Field, the Chicago multimillionaire merchant and real-estate developer, meant that Field would be heir to fabulous wealth—all the sooner when his father, unhappy and passive in his active father’s shadow, committed suicide in 1905 and then when his beloved grandfather died of pneumonia two months later. Field’s mother, who had lived in England with her husband and their children and who disliked Chicago, returned to England. The grandfather’s will provided well for Albertine and gave Field and his younger brother a $75 million trust together. Field attended Eton (1907–1912) and then Trinity College, Cambridge (1912–1914), studying mostly history and vacationing with the horsy set. He returned to the United States in 1914 and married Evelyn Marshall the following year; the couple had three children, including Marshall Field IV. He also studied high finance and played polo. In April 1917 he volunteered as a private, despite his earlier rheumatic fever, in the First Illinois Cavalry (quickly converted to artillery service). He was soon commissioned and promoted, saw action in France as a captain with the Thirty-third Division, and was decorated for gallantry at Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne....

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Guggenheim, Harry Frank (23 August 1890–22 January 1971), philanthropist, aviation pioneer, and newspaper executive, was born in West End, New Jersey, the son of Daniel Guggenheim and Florence Shloss. His family, refugees from the anti-Semitism of Switzerland, amassed a mining and smelting fortune and established a group of philanthropic foundations in which he played a major role....

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Ottendorfer, Anna Behr Uhl (13 February 1815–01 April 1884), newspaper owner and philanthropist, was born in Würzburg, Bavaria, the daughter of Eduard Behr, a storekeeper of modest background, and a mother whose name is unknown. Little is known of Anna Behr’s early life in Germany. She immigrated in 1837 to the United States, where she joined her brother on a farm in Niagara County, New York....

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Scripps, Ellen Browning (18 October 1836–03 August 1932), journalist and philanthropist, was born in London, England, the daughter of James Mogg Scripps, a bookbinder, and his second wife, Ellen Mary Saunders. After the death of his wife in 1841, James Mogg Scripps and their five children immigrated to the United States, eventually settling on a farm near Rushville, Illinois. In 1859 Scripps graduated from the Female Department of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. She worked briefly as a teacher and played an important role in raising the five children from her father’s third marriage (to Julia Osborne). She was particularly close to the youngest of those children, ...