Philanthropy and Social Advocacy

Filene, Edward Albert

Edward Albert Filene was a renowned department store magnate, civic reformer, and one of the earliest and most zealous champions of the credit union movement in the United States. Along with his younger brother Lincoln, Edward operated the famous Boston-based department store Filene’s, which they took over from their father, William, in 1891. During the first half of the twentieth century, Filene’s became one of the largest and most successful retail stores in the country, rivaling several of the premier retailers of the period, including Macy’s and Sears & Roebuck.

Hammer, Adam

Adam Hammer was a German physician who immigrated to St. Louis, after having participated in the uprising in Baden. Soon after his arrival in the United States he became aware of the deficiencies in the American medical education system. He determined that the most effective remedy for the situation would be to carry out a comprehensive reform of the medical sector using the educational and medical practices of Germany as a model. Hammer’s entrepreneurial significance is found in his contributions to society as a social entrepreneur in the worlds of academia and public health, rather than as a profitable commercial entrepreneur.

Kluge, John Werner

Through a series of savvy investment moves that drew on his uncanny ability to predict market demands and take calculated risks, John W. Kluge rose to the top of the U.S. media industry. He was one of the first to advocate a multimedia approach to marketing, and offered advertisers a variety of potential outlets to reach consumers. He transformed the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corp., which consisted of two floundering television stations and two radio stations, into Metromedia, Inc., which became the largest independent television business in the United States during the height of the major broadcast networks’ power in the 1960s and 1970s.

Progressive Reform in a Transatlantic Age

This essay describes the main political, socioeconomic, and cultural dimensions of progressivism and, on this basis, explores the imprint of the Progressive Era on the modern United States. It pays particular attention to the transatlantic dimension of progressivism, suggesting that the reformers’ perceptions and translations of European social reform provided both inspiration and resources for the formulation of a new politics, economics, and culture in turn-of-the-century America, and arguing that the contributions of some German immigrant entrepreneurs need to be seen in this context. At the same time, the essay contends that the international dimension of progressivism highlighted the fissures, fault lines, and blind spots within the movement and within American culture and society as a whole.

Rapp, Johann Georg

In 1803, George Rapp left his native Württemberg for the United States of America in search of the Promised Land. Between 1804 and 1825, Rapp and his sectarians established three utopian communities in the United States, each housing as many as eight hundred people. In order to realize his goal of a perfect society, Rapp established an organizational model that clearly defined interactions between his society and the outside world and religious observances. His so-called Divine Economy enabled him to negotiate between the community’s practice of an inner-communal socialism, external capitalist entrepreneurship, and spiritual millennial beliefs. Moreover, by adhering to this model, Rapp and his followers transitioned successfully from self-sustaining agricultural work to frontier marketing, manufacturing, and global business activities.

Thiel, Peter

Peter Thiel is a technology entrepreneur, hedge fund manager, venture capitalist, libertarian, and philanthropist. He began his career by co-founding PayPal together with Elon Musk and Max Levchin in 1998 and served as the company’s chairman and CEO until the company sold to eBay in 2002. Since then, he has embarked on a number of projects including the establishment of Clarium Capital Management, a global macroeconomic hedge fund; investment in Facebook; the launch of The Founders Fund, a Silicon Valley venture capital fund; the co-formation of Mithril Capital Management, a global venture capital firm; and the launching of the Thiel Foundation, a nonprofit organization that carries out philanthropic activities.

Waldthausen, Kurt Gerhard

Kurt Waldthausen's career is typical of the modern globalized manager and entrepreneur: after beginning his career in Bremen and with stints in Pakistan, Brazil, Columbia, and Argentina, Waldthausen held management positions at several subsidiaries of German companies based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Drawing on his global experience as a manager, Waldthausen started his own international executive recruiting firm, Waldthausen & Associates, in 2000 to focus on helping companies from the German-speaking world place candidates in their U.S. subsidiaries.