Entries

Untermyer, Isaac
SEE Untermyer, Samuel»
Untermyer, Samuel
German-American entrepreneurship can be found across the whole spectrum of American business in the period since 1720. The legal profession is no exception. Guggenheimer & Untermyer was one of the most successful and prominent German-American law firms during its life span, approximately 1855 to 1986. The firm was founded in the mid-1850s by Adolph (Abraham) Levinger, a Bavarian-Jewish immigrant. Samuel Untermyer later transformed it into an entrepreneurial Wall Street firm that represented a host of prominent clients, both German-America and native-born, Jewish and Gentile, during the late nineteenth century and throughout much of the twentieth. Continue Reading »
Vernon, Lillian
Born into a wealthy Jewish family in Germany, Lillian came to the U.S. as a child after escaping from the Nazi regime of the 1930s. With an entrepreneurial spirit inherited from a family of businessmen, the “Queen of Catalogs” built her mail-order empire from scratch. Continue Reading »
Villard, Henry
A financier and investor, Henry Villard helped realize many important infrastructure ventures in the U.S. and in the process made and lost several fortunes. Continue Reading »
Wagener, Frederick
Frederick W. Wagener emigrated from Bremerhaven in 1848 along with thousands from the so-called Forty-Eighters generation. He founded and operated a successful retail grocery business before the Civil War, and during the postwar period expanded his operations to include wholesale groceries, naval stores, and cotton. Continue Reading »
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. Continue Reading »
Weltzien, Julius
Julius Weltzien spent nearly his entire career with one company, Schering AG, one of Germany’s oldest specialty chemical firms. He built up the international and American business of one of Germany’s leading companies only eventually to be exiled from Germany to the United States, albeit as a potentially dangerous alien to his new hosts. Continue Reading »
Wesendonck, Hugo
Hugo Wesendonck was born into a merchant family in the Prussian Rhineland. He worked as a lawyer before his involvement in the ill-fated Frankfurt Parliament, the first attempt to build a democratic government for a unified Germany, forced him to seek asylum and take up commercial activities in the United States. His entrepreneurial ambitions there were informed by the needs of German immigrants and in 1860 he helped to found the Germania Life Insurance Company in New York City, a corporation still operating under the name Guardian Life Insurance in the present. While the company picked up a timely trend in the financial sector, Wesendonck spotted in the life insurance business a way to manifest an ethnicity-based idea of security that served the sovereignty of a transnational community of German people. Continue Reading »
Weyerhaeuser, Frederick
First-generation immigrant Frederick Weyerhaeuser transformed the American lumber industry and attained almost unimaginable wealth in the process. Today, the family-run Weyerhaeuser Company remains one of the largest lumber producers in the Pacific Northwest and in the world. Continue Reading »
Wistar, Caspar
Caspar Wistar established the first successful glass manufacturing business in North America. Continue Reading »
Wolff, Francis
SEE Lion, Alfred»
Wolff, Helen
SEE Wolff, Kurt and Helen»
Wolff, Kurt and Helen
Kurt Wolff and Helen Wolff founded Pantheon Books Inc. in 1942. Continue Reading »
Wollenberg, Harry Lincoln
Second-generation German Harry Wollenberg helped found Longview Fibre Co., a manufacturer of paperboard, corrugated paperboard, and corrugated boxes, in 1926. For the next fifty-two years he built the company from one plant to twelve and increased the share price from five cents in 1926 to $350 in 1979. Continue Reading »
Wüster, Caspar
SEE Wistar, Caspar»
Wurlitzer, Rudolph
Rudolph Wurlitzer established a substantial music trade and manufacturing company, the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, which sold a wide range of goods, including musical instruments for marching bands, violins, harps, and pianos. Continue Reading »
Yuengling, David Gottlieb
David Gottlieb Yuengling founded the eponymous brewery in 1829 that eventually became both the largest domestically-owned brewery in America and also the oldest. From its location in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, roughly 90 miles northwest of Philadelphia, D.G. Yuengling was able to serve the thousands of miners working in the relatively remote coal and slate belt regions of Eastern Pennsylvania, along with the booming towns that sprung up around them. Continue Reading »
Zenger, John Peter
John Peter Zenger was a printer in colonial New York during the early eighteenth century. He leveraged a colonial political scandal to prop up his struggling printing business and eventually emerged a successful proprietor of a print shop as well as publisher of the New-York Weekly Journal. Continue Reading »
Ziegfeld, Florenz Jr.
Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. is recognized as an American icon who fundamentally changed show business in the United States. He established the modern Broadway show, used standardized beauty as an integrative marker of a rapidly changing immigrant society, and was fundamental for building American global leadership in entertainment. Continue Reading »