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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....

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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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Creighton, Edward (31 August 1820–05 November 1874), pioneer telegraph builder, banker, and philanthropist, was born in Belmont County, Ohio (near the present town of Barnesville), the son of James Creighton and Bridget Hughes, farmers. Creighton’s father had emigrated in 1805 from County Dungannon, Ireland, to the United States. In 1830 the Creighton family moved to a farm in Licking County, Ohio. Edward Creighton began full-time employment on the family farm and as a wagoner at the age of fourteen. In these early years he worked on the pike roads of Ohio with the young ...

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George Eastman. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Eastman, George (12 July 1854–14 March 1932), inventor, businessman, and philanthropist, was born in Waterville, New York, the son of George Washington Eastman, a nurseryman and educator, and Maria Kilbourn. His father’s pioneering work in establishing Eastman Mercantile (or Commercial) College in Rochester in 1842, a prototype for later business schools, perhaps inspired Eastman to be a trailblazer in another field. His father died when George was seven, two years after the family moved to Rochester, and his mother took in boarders. Eastman attended public and private schools until age thirteen, when he became an office boy in a real estate firm to help support his mother and two older sisters. A year later Eastman transferred to an insurance office and in 1874 he became a bookkeeper for the Rochester Savings Bank....

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Goldman, Sylvan Nathan (15 November 1898–25 November 1984), inventor of the folding shopping cart and businessman-philanthropist, was born in Ardmore, Indian Territory (later Oklahoma), the son of Michael Goldman and Hortense Dreyfus, owners of a general store. He received eight years of education in local public schools and in 1912 underwent his bar mitzvah in a Jewish Reform temple....

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Griscom, John (27 September 1774–26 February 1852), teacher, chemist, and philanthropist, was born in Hancock’s Bridge, New Jersey, the son of William Griscom, a farmer and saddle and harness maker, and Rachel Denn. Educated in country schools except for a few months in 1783 at Friends’ Academy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was self-taught in chemistry and physics. Griscom began teaching at a log cabin school near Salem, New Jersey, when he was seventeen. In 1794 he took charge of the Friends’ School in Burlington, New Jersey, where he taught chemistry to advanced pupils in a room in his house that he had converted into a laboratory....

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Charles Franklin Kettering. Oil on canvas. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; this acquisition was made possible by a generous contribution from the James Smithson Society.

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Kettering, Charles Franklin (29 August 1876–25 November 1958), inventor and automotive engineer, was born in Loudonville, Ohio, the son of Jacob Kettering and Martha Hunter, farmers. He attended public schools and graduated at the top of his high school class. He spent two years teaching and then enrolled in the engineering program at the Ohio State University. Forced by chronic eye inflammation to withdraw at the beginning of his sophomore year, he took a job with a local telephone company line crew. Two years later he returned to Ohio State and graduated in 1904....

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Loeb, Morris (23 May 1863–08 October 1912), chemist and philanthropist, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Solomon Loeb, a financier, and Betty Gallenberg. As the son of one of the founders of Kuhn, Loeb & Company, Morris enjoyed access to the best general education available in New York, where the family had moved in his early years. In 1879 he enrolled at Harvard College, where, influenced by chemists ...

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Morehead, John Motley (03 November 1870–07 January 1965), electrochemist, diplomat, and philanthropist, was born in Spray (now Eden), North Carolina, the son of James Turner Morehead, a prominent textile manufacturer, and Mary Elizabeth Connally. After preparatory and military school training, he entered the University of North Carolina and graduated with election to Phi Beta Kappa in 1891....

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Packard, David (07 September 1912–26 March 1996), industrialist and philanthropist, was born in Pueblo, Colorado, the son of Sperry S. Packard, a successful lawyer, and Ella Graber Packard, a high school teacher. He knew at the age of ten that he wanted to be an engineer, and he never wavered from that ambition, despite his father's wish that the boy would follow him into the legal profession. The Pueblo of his childhood was something of a rough-and-tumble mining and industrial town, where Packard developed interests in the outdoors and in tinkering with things, especially radios and electronics. In school he was good in math and science, had difficulty with Latin, and excelled in sports....

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Arthur J. Schmitt. Courtesy of the Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation.

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Schmitt, Arthur J. (14 June 1893–29 March 1971), inventor, CEO, and philanthropist, was born Arthur John Schmitt in Austin, Illinois (later annexed by Chicago), the son of Henry W. Schmitt and Barbara Elizabeth Schneider Schmitt, owners of a leather-tanning business. Schmitt read Popular Mechanics...

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Seybert, Henry (23 December 1801–03 March 1883), scientist and philanthropist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Adam Seybert, a scientist, apothecary, and politician, and Maria Sarah Pepper. Seybert studied chemistry, geology, and mineralogy at the École des Mines in Paris from 1819 to 1821; his scientific education was paid for by his father who had, at an earlier period, been one of Philadelphia’s most prominent scientists, a member of the Chemical Society of Philadelphia and the American Philosophical Society, and a candidate for the chair of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. After returning to Philadelphia, Seybert began a series of chemical analyses of minerals and thus transmitted to the United States this method of classification (as opposed to the classification of minerals by external characteristics or by crystal structure)....