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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 »
Introduction, Volume 1: From the Colonial Economy to Early Industrialization
The very long eighteenth century, 1720-1840, is a period of extraordinary change and growth, starting in North America as a colony of Great Britain and ending well after the founding of the United States of America when European immigrants and settlers had pushed the frontier to the Pacific. Continue Reading »
Introduction, Volume 2: The Emergence of an Industrial Nation
The years from 1840 to 1893 in the Unites States were ones of overall growth interspersed with periods of severe economic distress. The era began in depression, the aftermath of the dual panics of 1837 and 1839. An economic revival followed in the mid-1840s and lasted more than a decade. There was another financial panic in 1859, but the aftereffects were overwhelmed by the outbreak of the American Civil War. After the war, the country experienced a long period of deflation. During these years, it endured two additional financial panics, in 1873 and 1893, so the era ended as it had begun, in an environment of economic distress. These conditions would hardly seem conducive to attract immigrants to the United States, but the country also was on a dynamic growth path and opportunities to get ahead abounded. 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 »
Kempner, Herschell
Entrepreneurs Harris and Ike Kempner were heavily involved in mercantile ventures and the cotton and sugar trade in Galveston, Texas, and the surrounding area. The father and son were also active in local politics; local, regional, and national charities; and the local Jewish Temple. Between Harris and his son, the Kempner family was active in, created new elements of, and even directed the Galveston commercial sector for nearly a century. Continue Reading »
Kempner, Isaac Herbert
SEE Kempner, Herschell»
Keppele, Johann Heinrich
SEE Keppele, John Henry»
Keppele, John Henry
John Henry Keppele was a successful, respected, and well-known butcher, innkeeper, merchant, ship owner, and real estate entrepreneur. Continue Reading »
Kessel, Adam
Born in Brooklyn of a mother who emigrated from Bavaria and a father who was the son of German immigrants, Adam Kessel (sometimes “Ad” or “Addison”) would grow up to be a leading pioneer in the production and distribution of motion pictures in the early years of the film business. In time, he would employ many of the leading figures of the industry, including Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith. Kessel’s power was most in evidence during the 1910s, as the film business organized itself around the twin axes of West Coast production and East Coast financing. Continue Reading »
Keuffel, Wilhelm J.D.
Wilhelm Johann Diedrich Keuffel was one of the founding partners of Keuffel & Esser Company (K&E), a scientific instrument manufacturing firm founded in New York City in 1867. Best known for its popularization of the slide rule, Keuffel & Esser was the first American company to specialize in the manufacture and sale of drafting and surveying tools. By the early twentieth century, it was one of the largest manufacturers of scientific instruments in the world. Continue Reading »
Klaw, Marc
Marc Klaw and Abraham Lincoln Erlanger, children of Bavarian Jewish immigrants, began working in the lower echelons of the theatre business in the early 1880s. By the turn of the twentieth century, their firm, Klaw & Erlanger, ruled the American theatrical scene. It produced first-run plays and musicals in New York, and placed shows, both its own and others’, in hundreds of theatres nationwide. Continue Reading »