From the End of the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era, 1893-1918

Kleberg, Robert Justus II

An icon of American frontier life, King Ranch harkens back to a mythical age when the Wild West was tamed and settled. Its success is a testimony to the hard work and vision of second-generation German immigrant Robert Kleberg II. During his long tenure as ranch manager, Kleberg made key improvements in the areas of livestock and health, pasture management, and ranching facilities. His story, though, would be incomplete if one failed to mention the significant contributions he made to the urban and economic development of South Texas as a whole.

Koehler, Oscar

Oscar C. Koehler was the pivot point in a large family of brewers who, over the course of two generations, built up successful businesses in a portion of the Midwest that extended from St. Louis, Missouri, to Davenport, Iowa. In the St. Louis and Davenport metropolitan areas, the Koehlers achieved great social prestige and influence, both within the German-American community and in society as a whole. Their elite status and their ability to leverage capital eventually helped the Koehlers attain even greater business success.

Living the American Dream? The Challenge of Writing Biographies of German-American Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Biographies of businesspeople offer a new integrative perspective not only to trace the lives, careers, and business ventures of significant immigrants but to answer core questions of American, business, and migration history in a new way. The Immigrant Entrepreneurship project aims to explore hundreds of biographies; the sheer amount of this material has made clear that biographies can be used not only to analyze individual lives but also to address general questions in the history of capitalism and modernity.

Mergenthaler, Ottmar

Ottmar Mergenthaler arrived in the United States in 1872 with an extremely valuable store of technical know-how that he had developed as a watchmaker’s apprentice. Thirteen years later, he received a patent for his “Single-matrix” typesetting machine (i.e., the Blower), an invention that quickly changed the American printing industry, and, by extension, American culture as a whole. Eventually, the Linotype’s influence radiated beyond the U.S., leading to the Americanization of the British and international printing industries.

Pfister, Charles F

Thought extraordinarily successful, Charles Pfister was in many ways typical for a second generation German-American immigrant entrepreneur in the period between the gilded age and the progressive era: He managed technological and organizational innovations, continued in old branches and developed new ones, had to face the challenges of a political mass market and found himself in a contested situation by a general public, which celebrated successful entrepreneurs as titans and accused them as selfish and heartless forces of wealth.