Biography

Heckscher, Charles August
Charles August Heckscher hailed from an influential, well-to-do, and sophisticated Jewish family of merchant-bankers in Altona and the nearby, independent city-state of Hamburg. In 1829 he emigrated from Hamburg to the United States to become a successful merchant and entrepreneur. He acquired wealth by opening a trading house in New York City and later used his personal capital to invest in anthracite coal mining and transportation operations in eastern Pennsylvania. By the time of his death shortly after the end of the Civil War, he was one of the leading colliery operators in the nation. Continue Reading »
Heilbronner, Emil
SEE Bronner, Emanuel»
Hellman, Isaias Wolf
Born in a small town in Bavaria, Isaias Wolf Hellman was one of a number of German-Jewish immigrants whose entrepreneurial and philanthropic efforts helped transform Los Angeles and San Francisco from rough mining camps into two of America’s leading urban centers. Continue Reading »
Herrmann, August
Between the end of the Gilded Age and the beginning of the Progressive Era, the name August “Garry” Herrmann was known throughout the United States. Herrmann was a man who had a humble beginning; he made millions of dollars during his lifetime through his political involvement and partial ownership of the Cincinnati Reds. As a local politician he served as the right-hand man to one of the most powerful political bosses of his era, George B. Cox of Cincinnati. As president of the Cincinnati Reds and chairman of baseball’s National Commission, he helped to usher in the modern World Series and is one of the most important early major league baseball executives. Continue Reading »
Heurich, Christian
During the first half of the twentieth century, Christian Heurich, Sr., was the most prominent brewer in Washington, DC. He was also regarded as an elder statesman of the American brewing industry as a whole. Born in 1842 in the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen, Heurich immigrated to the U.S. in 1866 to start his own brewery. Continue Reading »
Hihn, Frederick Augustus
German immigrant Frederick A. Hihn arrived in San Francisco as part of the Gold Rush and later amassed vast landholdings in Santa Cruz County. He spent much of his life developing property around existing towns and creating new vacation communities along Monterey Bay. Continue Reading »
Hilgard, Heinrich
SEE Villard, Henry»
Hirsch, Harold
SEE Hirsch, Max»
Hirsch, Max
Max Hirsch and his son Harold Hirsch were responsible for building one of Portland’s most famous businesses and helping to create a sportswear industry. Max Hirsch was a first-generation German Jewish immigrant to Portland who in 1907 purchased Willamette Tent & Awning from a Portland businessman and turned it into the Hirsch-Weis Company. Building on the success of his father's company, Harold grew his skiwear line into White Stag, one of the largest skiwear companies in the world. Continue Reading »
Hohner, Hans
In 1857, Matthias Hohner established a harmonica workshop that would become the world-leading producer of this small musical instrument. Founded in Trossingen, a small town in rural southwest Germany, the company soon expanded into the American market through Matthias Hohner's son Hans, who was partially educated in the United States and supervised the first foreign branch of the company, founded in New York in 1901. Hans' nephew, Matthias (Matthew) Hohner, later took over the American branch from Hans in 1927. Continue Reading »
Hohner, Matthias
SEE Hohner, Hans»
Hollerith, Herman
Herman Hollerith was the inventor of the first patented mechanized punched-card system, the technological foundation for the computing industry. He established a company to pursue the innovation based on census processing in the United States and several foreign countries, including Russia, Norway, and France. He licensed the technology to other firms in Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, and Germany. Hollerith revolutionized the technology used for general statistics and accounts processing by private businesses as well. He eventually sold his company to a conglomerate in 1911 which eventually renamed itself the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) in 1924. Hollerith’s inventions and innovations provided the business foundation for IBM’s prosperity throughout its early years. Continue Reading »
Hormel, George
George Albert Hormel, the son of German immigrants, used the knowledge, skills, and values he learned from his family to succeed as an independent meatpacker in an industry dominated by corporate giants. Continue Reading »
Jüngling, David Gottlieb
SEE Yuengling, David Gottlieb»
Jacobs, Joseph
Joseph Jacobs, a second-generation German-Jewish immigrant, built up a large retail drug-store chain in Atlanta in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A scientist by training and an entrepreneur by nature, Jacobs possessed a unique combination of skills that helped him play a defining role in the Atlanta pharmacy trade for decades. Continue Reading »
Jahn, Helmut
Helmut Jahn arrived in the U.S. as a young architecture school graduate from Germany and, after a meteoric rise in the architectural establishment of Chicago, has enjoyed a steadily successful career. He is best known for large public buildings in urban contexts, such as airports, arenas, and tall office buildings around the world. Continue Reading »
Jeidels, Otto
Otto Jeidels’ life and his pursuit of “realism,” as he himself wrote, illustrate the precarious position of both Jews, even assimilated ones, and even the international financial system during the first half of the 20th century. Continue Reading »
Jesselson, Ludwig
In the decades after 1945, Philipp Brothers grew to become the largest and most important metal trading company in the world. By the late 1970s, the company had become an international giant, dealing in over one hundred and fifty different industrial raw materials with representatives in virtually every country in the world possessing metals or minerals of commercial quality. During most of this period, Ludwig Jesselson, who had come to New York in 1937 to work for Philipp Brothers, was at the helm of the company. Jesselson led the company from a sizable private company to an international giant, in the process contributing to changing the markets for international commodities. Continue Reading »
Kaiser, Henry J.
Henry Kaiser’s importance in the creation of the modern American West cannot be overstated. Bridges and roads, river regulation projects and dams, pipelines and public transportation facilities, the supply of drinking water and cheap energy, the creation of steel production on the West Coast, and, finally, the building of houses and apartments—Henry J. Kaiser’s entrepreneurial activities played a crucial part in creating the preconditions for decades of prosperity throughout the region. Continue Reading »
Karpen, Solomon
Solomon Karpen founded S. Karpen & Bros. in Chicago in 1880. By 1899, it had become the largest upholstered furniture manufacturing company in the world. Continue Reading »