Credited as the entrepreneur behind Bausch & Lomb, John Jacob Bausch ranks among the pioneers who paved the way for the birth of the American optical industry. He transformed a small store for eyeglasses into a large-scale manufacturing enterprise for optical goods in Rochester, New York.
Many people around the world have improved their vision with contact lenses or Ray-Ban sunglasses manufactured by the American-based company Bausch & Lomb (B&L), which was established by two German immigrants who arrived in New York in 1849: John Jacob Bausch (born July 25,1830 in Groß Süßen, Kingdom of Württemberg; died February 14, 1926 in Rochester, New York) and Henry Lomb (1828-1908). Credited as the entrepreneur behind the business, John Jacob Bausch ranks among the pioneers who paved the way for the birth of the American optical industry. He transformed a small store for eyeglasses into a large-scale manufacturing enterprise for optical goods in Rochester, New York. Although he was born into modest circumstances in the southern German Kingdom of Württemberg, he managed to acquire great wealth and attain recognition as a respected industrial and local community leader in his adopted country. Only a few basic facts about Bausch’s life are well known to the general public, but a close examination of his character reveals that he was a persistent, vigorous entrepreneur whose business and social activities benefited from ethnic and cultural networks maintained by German immigrants in the United States.
John Jacob Bausch was born Jakob Bausch on July 25, 1830, the sixth of eight children, in Groß Süßen in the Kingdom of Württemberg. His father Georg Bausch (1788-1847) was a baker. His mother Anna Schmid (1797-1837) was the daughter of a forester. She died during childbirth when Jakob was six years of age. In his memoirs, Bausch characterized the period of his childhood after his mother’s death as lacking in care and advice: his father was a poor housekeeper and parent who occasionally depended on the assistance of domestic help and a sister-in-law to manage his household and children. His father died of typhoid when Jakob was sixteen, whereupon his eldest brother Johann Georg (1820-86) became the head of the household and owner of the family’s twelve-morgen (nine-acre) homestead. This change affected Bausch’s future career tremendously. Johann Georg, who had apprenticed as a woodturner and an optician, provided Jakob with basic professional training in turning wood, grinding lenses, and making eyeglasses. In 1848, against the wishes of his family, Jakob moved 250 miles south to Berne, Switzerland, where he took a job with a local optician. To a certain extent, naive wanderlust and adventurousness, as well as difficult financial straits at home and socioeconomic ambitions seem to have motivated the young and inexperienced Bausch to relocate. His desire to travel and seek adventure can also be considered motives for his later move to America. “Our family had stuck to one spot for generations. I saw clearly that if I remained at home, there would be nothing for me except a repetition of the life of my ancestors—a bare living, and no more,” a journalist once cited him as saying.
Bausch’s move to Switzerland did not fulfill his expectations. Being the only employee of a small Swiss optical retail and repair business, he was overworked, poorly paid, and could barely secure a meager living from his wages. Furthermore, he saw no prospect for better times as crop failures and political revolutions throughout Europe caused business to slack. In the winter of 1848, Bausch decided to immigrate to America after corresponding with a friend in Groß Süßen. Nonetheless, his precise motivation for choosing America rather than some other destination remains unknown. He returned to his hometown in Württemberg for several months to prepare for his transatlantic journey, leaving Groß Süßen on April 26, 1849, accompanied by a group of young villagers. They took a fairly typical route, first boarding a train to Heilbronn, then changing to a boat on the Neckar, passing Mannheim on the Rhine, and then Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and finally reaching the French port of Le Havre where they waited two weeks until a ship set sail for New York City.
According to his memoirs, the nineteen-year-old Bausch arrived in New York City after a stormy, forty-nine-day Atlantic crossing. The exact date of his arrival is unknown. On board the sailing ship, he had slept on rough wooden berths and had cooked skimpy meals over an open fire on the deck. Bausch’s immigration experience was typical for the era. Many other European immigrants faced similar shipboard conditions far into the nineteenth century. Faster steamboat technology, more professional structures in passenger transportation, and state intervention against the exploitation of emigrants only gradually rendered the Atlantic crossing less arduous, less perilous, and more predictable. Bausch’s exhaustion upon arrival was soon replaced by euphoria. “Here was the rich new land, the land of opportunity. Leaning over the side of the ship I feasted my eyes on the buildings of New York, and could hardly wait to be on shore,” Bausch later recalled in an interview. He could not know then that it would be years before his entrepreneurial hopes would be fulfilled. Low labor demand due to economic downturns in the 1850s, as well as Bausch’s limited skills and inadequate command of English, relegated him first to a period of short-term employment and miserable living conditions in battered boardinghouses. It was only through the support of ethnic German immigrant networks and financial assistance from his family in Württemberg that he managed to stay afloat until his business began to prosper.
In the overcrowded German immigrant quarters of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, known at the time as Klein Deutschland (“Little Germany”), Bausch and his companions were advised to continue traveling westward. The group departed for Buffalo, the terminus of the Erie Canal in upstate New York, which was home to a large German immigrant community. Once there, the group separated and Bausch decided to stay in Buffalo. Since there was no optician in the community, Bausch was unable to find employment in his preferred profession. As was typical for immigrants with little knowledge of English, and no training in traditional crafts such as carpentry or brewing, he had to eke out a meager existence by taking odd jobs. For several months, Bausch worked as a cook’s assistant or as a woodturner. At least one of his employers, a bedstead maker, was of German descent.
Bausch eventually married his childhood friend Barbara Zimmermann (1829-1900), the fourth of sixteen children from a neighboring baker’s family in Groß Süßen. Zimmermann had arrived in the U.S. in 1849 and pursued domestic work in Buffalo and Rochester, New York, before her marriage, although it is unknown whether she accompanied Bausch or came independently. Eventually, the couple raised four sons and two daughters: Edward (1854-1944), John Jacob Jr. (1856-78), Caroline (1857-1929), Henry (1859-1909), William (1861-1944), and Anna Julia (1868-1959).
Following a winter with almost no income, Bausch set out for Rochester, New York, 80 miles to the east of Buffalo, in early 1850 with some borrowed money. One of the first U.S. boom towns in the 1820s, Rochester had become a significant destination for immigrants from the southern German states and the Rhineland. Germans comprised the largest ethnic minority within the community. In Rochester, Bausch was again forced to take occasional jobs, mostly as a woodturner, for three more years. These jobs paid little money and left Bausch in a precarious financial position. At one point, he was evicted from a boardinghouse because he could not pay his rent. Bausch eventually decided to become a self-employed optician and sought financial assistance from his family in Europe. He wrote his older brother Johann Georg to demand his share of their late father’s estate. The sum provided him with enough money to order a batch of eyeglasses, known at the time as spectacles. Bausch tried to sell the glasses to local residents of Rochester, both out of a shop window on Main Street that he rented from a German watchmaker, and on the street itself. A few days later, having sold almost nothing on account of language barriers and Rochester residents’ lack of familiarity with ophthalmic products, he gave up, though he did not give up on the optical trade altogether.
While he resumed woodturning as his primary occupation, Bausch gave the optical trade another try by selling goods from his home. This time, he focused on marketing to the local German immigrant community in Rochester by advertising his business in a German-language newspaper. Spurred by promising sales, he took the risk of setting up a retail establishment for optical goods in Reynolds Arcade, a large commercial building in Rochester, in 1853. Under the name J. J. Bausch, Optician, he offered an array of spectacles, telescopes, microscopes, and opera glasses, all imported from Germany through his brother Johann Georg, who ran an optical store at the time. Bausch’s shop was among the first of its kind. Well into the nineteenth century, eyeglasses had been a sideline of hardware merchants, jewelers, watchmakers, and traveling peddlers. In the second half of the 1800s and even later, it was still common for people to order their own eyeglasses by mail and determine which ones they needed with the help of an eye testing kit contained in the catalog. Stand-alone brick and mortar optical shops like Bausch’s were rare. Few details are known about exactly how Bausch’s shop functioned, but typically early optical shops had prospective buyers try on different ready-made eyeglasses with lenses of varying strengths, though lens power was always the same for both eyes, until they found a pair that gave them satisfactory vision. Professionals who tested the customer’s eyes with trial frames and lenses and recommended the appropriate product were unknown before 1860 and then only began to appear slowly. When he started his retail shop, Bausch served as the final link in the supply chain between the eyeglass manufacturers, wholesalers, and customers, but this would change decades later when Bausch integrated manufacturing and wholesale distribution into his company’s operations.
Before Bausch opened his shop in the Reynolds Arcade, he endured a traumatic buzz saw accident that resulted in the amputation of two of his fingers and ended his woodturning activities. In his recollections, Bausch referred to the buzz saw accident as a dramatic turning point in his life because it exacerbated his fear of failure. He had managed to save enough money to afford a modest homestead, but was particularly worried that he would not be able to secure a living for his family due to the injury. Following the accident, the local Turnverein (gymnastics club), an influential association of the German community in Rochester, provided him with financial and personal support throughout his long recovery. One of the donors was Henry Lomb (1828-1908), the son of a lawyer from Burghaun, Hesse-Kassel, who had coincidentally immigrated to the U.S. in the same year as Bausch. A trained cabinetmaker, Lomb took a room in Bausch’s house and temporarily became his employee. After a considerable time in business, Bausch was still losing money and in debt to his brother, so Lomb loaned him his savings of $60 (approx. $1,750 in 2010$) in exchange for Bausch’s promise of equal partnership if the business ever turned a profit. The handshake agreement has become an integral part of Bausch & Lomb’s founding mythos.
Business increased slightly over the next few years, and by 1856 Bausch renamed the company the Optical Institute of Rochester. However, as earnings could not yet keep pace with the growing expenses of the Bausch family, Bausch and Lomb were obliged to supplement their income by doing odd jobs like repairing broken windowpanes. The Bausch family relied heavily on credit, often taking out one loan to pay off another. Once, Bausch was so desperate that he traveled to Europe to ask his father-in-law for money. When Henry Lomb enlisted in the Union Army to fight in the Civil War, an event that marks a break in the company’s history, the partnership had yet to achieve profitability. As Bausch reflected in his memoir, “Years passed, and we had not made any financial gain. To the contrary, from the beginning up to the year 1861 we actually had lost [money] …our debts just equaled our resources.…If I had not had the good fortune to have a few kind benefactors, my business would have come to an end long ago.”
In the 1860s, the nature of the company and J.J. Bausch’s life began to change dramatically. Over the next four decades, his small, locally oriented optician’s shop was transformed into a giant, international manufacturing corporation with a large market share. Relatively little is known about the precise structure of the company during these decades, yet there is no doubt that Bausch and his company participated in, and benefited from a systemic reorganization of general business structures in the United States that occurred as part of the Second Industrial Revolution.
Bausch & Lomb followed the general growth pattern of many other rising U.S. corporations in five key areas. First, B&L benefited from unified market opportunities and infrastructure improvements that were made after the Civil War ended in 1865. The economic policies of the American Civil War, including the protective trade policy of the Union, certainly stimulated the company’s upswing as well. High import tariffs in the 1860s, which were raised even higher during wartime, made goods from Europe expensive. Consequently, J. J. Bausch began to manufacture eyeglasses rather than merely sell stock from Germany. During wartime, he had begun to experiment with vulcanized rubber (vulcanite) and found an inexpensive and strong material for frames to replace the hand-carved animal horn or metal-crafted ones that were available at that time. Bausch’s rubber-framed spectacles met with success among consumers. By the time Lomb returned from the war in 1863, Bausch had hired four employees, among them his brother Eustachius, to keep up with demand. Keeping his promise of granting Lomb equal partnership, Bausch renamed the enterprise Bausch & Lomb Optical Company. The company set up a sales office in New York City in 1866, thus moving beyond the local market at last.
B&L also took part in the major globalization wave from the last quarter of the nineteenth century to World War I. A product display at the “Centennial Exposition” of the World’s Fair in Philadelphia in 1876 underscored B&L’s far-reaching ambitions. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the company grew domestically and diversified its products. Soon it was even seeking business opportunities abroad. By 1903, its operations had expanded to include offices and depots in many major U.S. regions and overseas with representatives in Paris, London, Tokyo, St. Petersburg, and other important trade centers. The first German branch was established under the management of Lomb relative August H. Lomb in Frankfurt in 1902 and included a sales office and a factory for chemical glassware. This production site raised B&L to a typical multinational manufacturing enterprise.
A second and third way B&L followed the growth pattern of other businesses in this period was its exploitation of economies of volume production and of scope. In 1864, B&L moved into a factory building, and by 1874 it had expanded twice more and come to reside in its own three-story plant on St. Paul Street in Rochester. Instead of relying entirely on individual craftsmanship, the company gradually replaced manual work with mechanization, using automatic lens grinders and other machinery beginning in the early 1870s. Utilizing economies of scope allowed the company to realize synergies by diversifying its line with related products. From the 1870s on, it added lenses and shutters for photographic cameras, parts for projection equipment, microscopes, telescopes, binoculars, opera glasses, and other optical items to its product line.
Using economies of scale and scope, B&L was able to respond to the increasing demand for optical goods in the United States. A variety of factors spurred this growth. Improving health standards meant that a growing number of people reached old age and were experiencing vision defects, which required eyeglasses to correct. Compulsory schooling and mass publishing technology enabled more and more people to read, many of whom needed eyeglasses to do so as determined by ever more widespread vision testing. In 1899, for example, Connecticut became the first state to introduce mandatory eye tests for school children.
Although specific figures for the industry are scarce, it is clear that the U.S. was considered a growth market for eyeglasses at the end of the nineteenth century, and was thus attractive to foreign manufacturers such as Carl Zeiss from Jena, Germany. Next to Rochester, New York, Southbridge, Massachusetts, emerged as another center for optical goods that accommodated a lot of start-ups alongside the major American Optical Company (AO), which had begun production in 1833. By 1892, about two million pairs of eyeglasses were produced per year in Southbridge. The medical field of ophthalmology saw a burst of professionalization around the turn of the century. As knowledge of eye care expanded, so did the number of doctors’ offices and retail outlets. According to surveys in 1936, when J. J. Bausch’s son Edward was in charge of operations, three out of ten adults in the U.S. wore eyeglasses, although it was estimated that 70 percent needed them. Sixty percent of glasses had been fitted by one of the nation’s 22,000 optometrists, commercial healthcare professionals who often opened shops together with opticians, and 30 percent by one of the 10,000 ophthalmologists, medically trained practitioners who did not normally dispense the glasses, nationwide. Ten percent of all eyeglasses were fitted and sold by department and chain stores. The annual retail ophthalmological business was estimated to be over $100 million (over $1.5 billion in 2010$), which at that time comprised one-fifth of the total spending on toiletries, or three percent of the total spending on tobacco. The turnover of the manufacturers was estimated to be about $20 million (approx. $315 million in 2010$). Within B&L then, sales and the workforce grew accordingly from twenty-eight employees in 1864 to 500 in 1895, 1,200 in 1903, about 6,000 in World War I, and 11,000 in World War II.
Another growth factor for the optical trade was the increasing desire among scientific and educational workers to use the microscope in research and teaching. By producing large numbers of these devices at low prices, by 1900 B&L had sold some 30,000 microscopes and ranked third worldwide, it made standard-quality products affordable for high school and university students, as well as for doctors and research scientists. Close ties with educational institutions enabled the company to receive user suggestions for improvement and market their products directly, which helped product sales expand to 40,000 by 1903. Moreover, the company benefited from rising disposable income and leisure time in the United States, developments that encouraged the spread of amateur photography around the turn of the century. The world market leader Eastman Kodak, based in Rochester, was B&L’s most important lens buyer, selling 1.2 million cameras between 1888 and 1905. By 1903, B&L had sold 500,000 camera lenses and a similar number of shutters, both domestically and abroad. It was a leading shutter supplier to the surging German camera industry.
The fourth way B&L followed the larger, big business pattern was to lower its so-called transaction costs by vertically integrating raw material supply into the company’s organization. This meant that instead of spending time and money on goods from suppliers, as well as devoting resources to ensure the reliability of raw ingredients, it simply purchased supply firms outright. In this manner, B&L set up a joint venture in 1866 with the India Rubber Comb Company, which owned the patent for and produced vulcanite. Consequently, B&L became the Vulcanite Optical Instrument Company until the patent expired in 1875, when J. J. Bausch and Henry Lomb regained full ownership by acquiring all the stock, which enabled them to return to the former name. B&L also absorbed the Fauth Company, an instrument maker from Washington, D.C., that produced gunsights for the U.S. Armed Forces in 1905, along with the knowledge of that company’s Bavarian-born inventor George Nicholas Saegmuller (1847-1934). This move allowed B&L to integrate a capability it had not possessed and, at the same time, lay the cornerstone for its relationship with the federal government as a supplier of military equipment.
The fifth pattern derives from a combination of the previous ones. In the economic structure of the U.S., many industries are dominated by a few large players. Although smaller firms exist within these dominated industries, they lack much influence. B&L was part of such a dominated industry and applied similar strategies to gain market strength until shortly after World War II. For example, it utilized backward and forward integration of the different steps in the supply chain in order to control distribution and pricing policies. Ranking second in the U.S. optical industry, B&L appears to have been driven by American Optical, the leading company. This follow-the-leader strategy peaked in the interwar period when both players raced to acquire as many U.S. wholesale houses as they could. Although the race began when J. J. Bausch was still nominally in charge of the company and had to approve of such acquisitions, his son Edward Bausch was, by and large, running operations by that time.
At the onset of World War II, the U.S. government reignited its fight against the restrictive sales policies of large companies, which brought B&L’s expansion strategy to an end and also called some of the company’s previous and successful business practices into question. In 1940, long after J. J. Bausch had died, the U.S. government filed a lawsuit against Bausch & Lomb alleging that the company had violated antitrust laws by forging a global market sharing agreement with Zeiss nineteen years before. B&L paid a fine and got off lightly. This happened at about the same time that Bausch was bidding on Navy contracts, so it is assumed that the company wanted to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Further agreements between Zeiss and B&L were not addressed in the lawsuit, such as one that fixed the price of binoculars, a segment in which Zeiss had led the U.S. market in 1925.
Other legal actions against B&L and AO concerning their large domestic market share had more serious consequences for the companies. When B&L went public in 1937, selling $3.6 million dollars of stock (approx. $54.7 million in 2010$), the firm offered 17,000 different products and manufactured 28 percent of US eyeglass lenses and a large percentage of the country’s microscopes and binoculars. Another antitrust lawsuit in 1940 accused the company, along with its main competitor AO, of illegitimately dominating the entire eyeglasses industry by controlling 60 percent of the manufacturing business and 70 percent of the wholesale business in the U.S. Indeed, four large players controlled 88 percent of the U.S. market at that time, which included 15 million pairs of eyeglasses then made and sold in the U.S.A. and 2.5 million imported Japanese eyeglasses: AO supplied 35 percent, B&L 28 percent, Shuron Optical 13 percent, and Titmus Optical 12 percent. The consent decrees that resulted from this suit (as well as others that followed up to the 1960s) forced B&L to gradually retreat from the wholesale and retail business, among other things, and ultimately restructured the entire U.S. ophthalmic industry in favor of independent distributors.
These incidents are of importance insofar as they demonstrate that B&L, a U.S.-based corporation, utilized cartel-like structures that business historians have regarded as a dominant feature of German companies during the interwar period. In fact, the B&L example supports research that refutes the oft-purported dichotomy between U.S. liberal capitalism and the cooperative tradition in German business life. It seems, rather, that industrial concentration and collusion were common among enterprises not only in Germany but throughout Europe as well as in North America at times until the mid-twentieth century. Although the U.S. government was generally against cartelization and intervened against the trusts both before World War I and again in the late 1930s, it tolerated US companies participating in international cartelization as it strengthened the American economy in the world market. Washington exempted U.S.-based exporting companies from antitrust regulations from 1918 to the mid-1920s so that they could compete with their foreign rivals more flexibly. Furthermore, regulations in the New Deal era helped to organize markets on a national level as the government sought to ameliorate the economic situation after the world economic crisis had shaken the moral integrity of liberal capitalism. This paradigm did not change until the 1940s, when the abuse of cartels by Nazi Germany came into focus.
This brief outline of the development of B&L from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century shows that the German immigrant Jakob Bausch and his business partner Henry Lomb eventually became highly adapted to the economic environment of their new homeland. Despite the limited information available about the company, it becomes apparent that it was characterized both by striking Americanization, that is, specific adaptation to the American business environment, as well as Germanization, or utilization of particular German business patterns and networks. The latter gave B&L a valuable competitive advantage for a number of reasons.
First, B&L and other industries in Rochester benefited from a transfer of human capital, and with it, knowledge, between America and Germany. As a successful company, B&L attracted and employed a continual flow of well-trained immigrants from Germany, a practice which gave it knowledge advantages and saved it educational costs because Germany enjoyed higher levels of optical artisanry and science in the early decades of the company’s development. In later years, when the flow of immigration declined, the company had to apprentice their employees without this source of knowledge. Furthermore, the higher ranking employees of B&L, including Bausch’s son Edward, were sent to Germany to receive technical education from Zeiss. In other cases, B&L recruited skilled workers from Germany, for instance, the Zeiss-trained optician G. A. Hermann Kellner (1873-1926), who founded and directed B&L’s scientific bureau in 1905, fostering research on microscopes and fire-control instruments. Several B&L employees with German heritage, like Ernst W. Gundlach (1834-1908), Andrew Wollensak (1862-1936), Philip H. Yawman, and Gustav Erbe, later started their own ventures so that Rochester became an industrial cluster for optics-related goods and services. Consequently, B&L could also benefit from technological knowledge spillovers and labor market advantages.
Second, it is striking that many B&L executive positions during J. J. Bausch’s lifetime and afterwards were filled with relatives by blood or marriage, either German-born or of German descent, as determined from company and family records. Although Bausch remained the head of the company until shortly before his death, he could, of course, no longer oversee every aspect of day-to-day business once it started to grow rapidly. Whereas Bausch concentrated on manufacturing, his younger brother Eustachius (who Anglicized his name by adding Edward to it) focused on retailing. He immigrated to the United States in 1854 and worked for B&L for a few years before buying out the company’s retail operations in the 1860s under the new name “Bausch & Dransfield.” In the mid-1870s, J. J.’s sons Edward and William joined the company and were put in charge of microscope and optical glass production. Both later became vice presidents. Edward succeeded his father as president in 1926 and was elected chairman of the board in 1935. American descendants of the Bausch and the Lomb families such as Adolph Lomb, Henry Charles Lomb, Carl Ferdinand Lomb, and Carl L. Bausch, as well as the Rochester-born offspring of German immigrants, Theodore Bausch Drescher and Carl Swift Hallauer, also became high-ranking employees. The families of Bausch, Lomb, Drescher, Eisenhart, and Taylor, the last two representing only a few other important executives’ names, were highly interrelated. While the Bausch family retained direct control of a substantial interest in the company at least until the company went public in 1938, it can be assumed that intermarriage within ethnic and local networks acted as a social adhesive, providing additional indirect controls. These findings challenge an earlier business history perspective that considered the separation of ownership and control a component part of the birth of U.S. giant corporations as company owners increasingly relied on managers with outside professional training. As previous studies have neglected the influence of immigrant ethnic networks on U.S. corporate structures, they have missed this contribution of cultural transfers to the rise of Big Business in America.
Third, the company benefited from the privileged transfer of superior optical technology by licensing products and technologies from, and investing in companies based in, Germany. One lesser known relationship was with Friedrich Deckel of Munich, with whom B&L licensed technologically superior camera shutters. The German Bausch & Lomb subsidiary managed by August H. Lomb also held an equity stake in this company. Lomb personally held a minority interest of four percent, Zeiss held 32 percent, and Deckel the remainder.
By far the most important relationship with a German company, though, was the long-lived one with Carl Zeiss’ optical firm. For example, in the early 1890s, B&L and Zeiss reached an agreement allowing B&L to manufacture and sell Zeiss’ “Anastigmat” lenses on U.S. soil. These highly innovative, photographic lenses were the first to make it possible to correct astigmatism. Then, in 1909, Zeiss, B&L, and American Optical founded a joint venture in Jena, named Optica AG (stock company), for the manufacture of higher quality eyeglasses. The partners also reached a market sharing agreement that left Continental Europe, Asia, and Africa to Optica and all other territories to the Americans. Although this entire tripartite venture was dissolved in 1910 for unknown reasons, this did not apparently affect the relationship between B&L and Zeiss. Both companies strengthened their transatlantic pact by becoming affiliated in 1908, a move that granted the American partners free use of Zeiss’ patents in exchange for the German company purchasing 20 percent of B&L shares, raised to 30 percent two years later. This cooperation prevented Zeiss from establishing a factory in the U.S. and thereby becoming a serious B&L competitor in the domestic market. The affiliation was mutually beneficial since Zeiss contributed its expertise in industrial research and, in return, learned more about production and marketing by visiting the American company in Rochester. At that time, while Germany had a long tradition of making eyeglasses dating back to the fifteenth century, America was a role model for modern mass manufacturing procedures.
B&L discontinued its relationship with Zeiss during World War I but resumed it once the hostilities had ended. In 1915, Zeiss asked B&L shareholders to buy back its B&L holdings as the company feared its foreign assets would be sequestered on account of B&L’s distribution of goods to Germany’s WWI opponents France and England. Although B&L had become the first company in the U.S. to produce optical glass in 1912, it only produced the glass on an experimental scale and still relied heavily on glass supplies from German manufacturers. Thus, the dissolution of the partnership hit B&L hard and spurred Bausch’s son William to foster even more research on glass production that, though unfruitful for years, finally enabled the company to satisfy its own demand in 1917. B&L’s head start in glass production gave it a competitive edge when Europe took up arms as others also had to find new suppliers. After entering World War I in 1917, the U.S. government, which had also previously gotten supplies from Germany, turned to B&L. This change made the company a major national supplier of military equipment, and by 1918, it produced 65 percent of the usable optical glass in the U.S.
When B&L renewed its beneficial relationship with Zeiss after the Allied victory, new regulations and foreign relations prompted new forms of cooperation, albeit under the watchful eye of the U.S. government. The Treaty of Versailles prohibited Germans from producing optical fire controls, which helped weapons systems hit targets with greater accuracy, but the U.S. military was interested in acquiring superior German fire control technology. Thus, in 1921, when J. J. Bausch was still running the business, Zeiss and B&L agreed to exchange technological information and provide engineers for a special military department that would be established in Rochester and overseen by a resident Navy inspector.
The various agreements between Zeiss and B&L gave the immigrant-founded company the opportunity to learn a great deal from its owners’ land of birth. At the same time, it allowed for the transmission of knowledge that helped to safeguard the national security of Bausch and Lomb’s adopted country. Beginning in World War I, B&L shared German knowledge with the American government and military, enabling the U.S. to combat Germany. To be sure, there is no evidence from internal company files to indicate whether this decision was easily made, yet business interests and loyalty to America were clearly more important to B&L than its partnership with Zeiss. However, since there are no reports of anti-German public statements or actions by Bausch family members, it seems that the family kept business decisions and personal sentiments separate.
As the previous sections have shown, J. J. Bausch’s acculturation in America was a complex process. Far from being a one-way street toward total assimilation, his evolving business strategy perpetuated links to German economic networks as well. Yet Bausch also preserved German traditions to some extent in his personal life, even as he fostered an image of himself as an American entrepreneur.
Both Bausch and the company preferred to portray the firm’s founder as a cordial, upright, and patriotic American citizen rather than a German-American. The company’s view is apparent from the words of Martin Herbert Eisenhart, one of Bausch’s successors, who referred to him as an “American pioneer” and highlighted his diligence, ceremoniously equating his story with that of America itself by pointing to the economic prosperity the country offered those who were willing to work hard. For his part, Bausch himself, on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday, listed three things that stood out in his mind: “One, the mightiness and grandeur of America; two, the power of thrift; three, the sureness of perseverance. America—to give opportunity! Thrift—to save for future need! Perseverance—to stay with the game until luck (or whatever you want to call it) changes!” Bausch’s patriotic credentials were further underscored by U.S. Army and Navy officers sending condolences upon Bausch’s death in honor of his wartime contribution to arming the nation. Further evidence of Bausch’s preferred identification with America is the name change he effected soon after arriving in Rochester, altering his given name to John J. Though he claimed that he did this because an important letter addressed to him had reached another person of the same name living there, it is possible that he was simply attempting to assimilate to his new home. He also decided to Anglicize his then new middle name to Jacob and did so by the time he was naturalized on October 24, 1856. Without further proof, it is impossible to know why Bausch made this change, but it is possible that he was motivated by fear of the rising, anti-immigrant nativist movement that had been gaining momentum in the United States during the 1850s.
Nonetheless, Bausch’s identification with, and assimilation in, America did not erase every bit of Germanness from his life. He never lost touch with his ethnic community in Rochester, which remained a very strong minority throughout Bausch’s residence there. According to U.S. Census reports, Rochester had 6,450 German-born residents out of a total population of 48,204 in 1860, and as Rochester grew, so did its population of Germans, which nearly tripled to 17,330 out of 133,896 inhabitants in 1890 when German immigration approached its peak. Although by 1920, when Bausch’s son Edward was in charge of the business, Germany accounted for fewer arrivals in Rochester than some other countries, German-born immigrants and their American-born children still outnumbered every other minority group, totaling 47,282 out of 295,750 city inhabitants. The number of German-speaking people in Rochester throughout these decades often exceeded English speakers in certain neighborhoods. Partially because they struggled with the English language, Germans promoted a variety of exclusive religious, cultural, and welfare organizations and contributed generously to all aspects of Rochester’s urban culture. Like most ethnic groups, they established a host of associations, churches, burial and benefit societies, choral and dramatic clubs, as well as athletic and militia organizations, which encouraged the cohesion of ethnic groups in the city. They also introduced the tradition of erecting Christmas trees and socializing young children in kindergartens, and increased the number of German schools and German-language newspapers in the city from the 1850s to World War I.
Within this active ethnic milieu, Bausch was known as a so-called Club German rather than as a Church German. There is little evidence that religion played a dominant role in his life, even though he mentioned a certain spiritual orientation in his memoirs and was a member of the Salem Evangelical Church, where his funeral was held. Instead, he was quite active in various German clubs. Most importantly, he was a founding member of the Rochester Turnverein established in 1851. First an athletic club whose members met to practice gymnastics exercises, it soon took on other functions and became the chief nondenominational representative body of the German community. Bausch himself benefited from its welfare activities after suffering from the work accident that cost him two fingers. Bausch also supported the German-American Society that his partner Lomb co-founded in 1883 to supervise and assist the new tide of German immigrants then arriving in the city. He regularly provided presents for the Society’s Christmas party for needy children. He also frequently donated to the Deutsches Altenheim (German nursing home) and continuously supported the Mechanics Institute (today the Rochester Institute of Technology), which Lomb and others established in 1885 to provide formal training to unskilled workers when the influx of immigrants no longer satisfied the demand for skilled labor in Rochester’s technical industries.
Bausch, like many other foreign-born Rochester residents who had made important economic contributions to the community, also became a powerful community leader. He was among a group of Germans that established the German-American Bank to take the place of the failed City Bank of Rochester in 1884. Bausch also served as a trustee of both the Mechanics Savings Bank and the General Hospital in Rochester for decades until his death in 1926. Bausch, unlike his business partner, never engaged in politics. Lomb, who had risen through the ranks to captain during the Civil War, put even more effort than Bausch into civic activities. In return, the World War II Liberty Ship SS Henry Lomb was named after him. It seems he had more time for such activities than Bausch because he was less involved in overseeing the day-to-day business activities of the company.
Work was a significant part of J. J. Bausch’s identity. Although he delegated responsibility gradually to his son Edward around the turn of the century, he continued to spend most of his time at the plant, where he worked alongside his employees on the shop floor until retreating from business at the end of 1924. Called “Grandpa Bausch,” he set a high value on having a close relationship, like that between fellow workers, with his employees, about 3,000 of whom paid tribute to him after his death on February 14, 1926, by passing by his house. He is reported to have treated his subordinates in a rather paternalistic manner. On the one hand, he offered generous company benefits and helped men suffering from financial trouble, but he was also known for outbursts and spontaneously dismissing people for not sticking to his company rules. His patriarchal manner reflected a general trend in the emerging German national identity during the nineteenth century. The spread of bourgeois values and a sentimentalized conception of home, family, and male authority provided self-definition among many middle-class German Americans.
Bausch’s work life was intrinsically tied to his family life. Two of his brothers were business partners; he also used his home for a time as a retail store. His son Edward began helping out in the business as a child. Even in the prosperous years when Bausch could have afforded a home farther away, he retained his private residence in St. Paul Street, which was located close to the company’s facilities. He only moved to a more upscale residence in Rochester in the late 1880s. J. J. Bausch always resided at the center of the family. His grown children regularly gathered on Sundays for a poker game and a light meal in his home. The family pattern of male relatives entering the optical business and female family members staying in the home underlines the patriarchal orientation of the Bausch clan. This pattern continued until the fifth generation, when some of the members entered different fields.
While the New York State branch of the family steadily grew, ties to German relatives remained strong, at least throughout J. J. Bausch’s and the first American-born generation’s lifetime. Chain migration played some role in this, as from the 1850s onwards relatives of both Bausch and his wife followed them to the U.S. For instance, Bausch’s oldest brother Johann Georg lived in Rochester and worked for Bausch & Lomb from 1874 to 1882 before returning to Germany. His son Georg migrated to the U.S. and worked for the company, too, for ten years until he opened an optical store in Syracuse, New York, in 1881. Although J. J. Bausch revisited his homeland only one more time, in 1902 when he married Karoline Greß (1850-1943), the widow of a restaurant owner who was also the younger sister of his first wife who had died two years earlier, other family members traveled there more often. In 1885, his first wife Barbara and teenage daughter Anna Julia had undertaken an extended trip to visit relatives in Süßen, Gingen, Kuchen, and Ulm, with Anna Julia later teaching her grandchildren what they perceived to be German-style cooking. Edward Bausch frequently traveled to Germany both for business and private purposes. During summer in the 1920s and 1930s, he often went there on vacation and came to admire the Deutsches Museum in Munich so much that he decided to support the Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences (today the Rochester Museum & Science Center). Moreover, J. J. Bausch’s Rochester descendants funded a new community center in Süßen and attended its opening in 1932.
The Bausch family’s pride in their German identity and J. J. Bausch’s charitable work for German organizations in Rochester, which continued throughout his lifetime, seems to indicate that the German element in his family’s lifestyle survived the shock of World War I. As in other American regions with large German immigrant populations, German immigrants in Rochester expressed less national pride during the war. Their nationality became a public issue, especially when word spread that three local men had died aboard the sunken Lusitania, which was hit by a German submarine on May 7, 1915. However, there is not enough information to determine whether this event changed Bausch’s public attitude toward his heritage.
By migrating, J. J. Bausch had taken a substantial risk in the hope of fundamentally improving his living conditions, but it took him a long time to become successful, which left its mark on his spending habits. According to reports, the company failed to make substantial profits before 1890 when Bausch was in his sixties. The economic uncertainty he experienced during his early years apparently affected his spending behavior for the rest of his life. He remained frugal even in better times, reminding his employees to avoid leaving the lights on unnecessarily, for example. Nevertheless, he did treat himself to some comforts. He smoked cigars and was regularly chauffeured to work. Moreover, he paid for his wife’s leisure trips to Europe. On his ninetieth birthday, he gave $300,000 (approx. $3.25 million in 2010$) to company personnel in the form of a wage bonus and a donation to the employee benefit fund. He definitely had moved beyond his life as a poor immigrant boy and had become a rich man. It is no wonder Bausch viewed his migration positively in retrospect, stating in his memoirs, “I have never regretted the step I took.”
Bausch’s social and economic advancement was still minor compared to the social mobility of his descendants. They were able to take advantage of better starting conditions and to indulge in American consumption habits to a far greater extent. All of Bausch’s sons went to college, with Edward and Henry graduating from Cornell University. Edward’s path is perhaps the most notable because he benefited from both his fine education and his diverse cultural experience, working as a link between the American and the German ends of the business. He is credited with spurring the cooperation between Zeiss and B&L in order to implement German technology during his visits to Jena in 1888 and 1890. Furthermore, he established contact with the Rochester-based pioneer of mass amateur photography, the Eastman Kodak Company, in the 1880s, which boosted the photographic lens part of the business. Bausch & Lomb supplied Eastman with lenses for decades, including lenses for the iconic first Kodak camera of 1888.
Unlike their father, Bausch’s children were willing to enjoy their wealth. After 1900, at the latest, they visited him and his second wife in chauffeur-driven, luxury limousines manufactured by Rolls Royce, Packard, and Pierce Arrow. They also lived in far more affluent neighborhoods than their father. While J. J. Bausch’s St. Paul Street residence was in an upscale neighborhood, Edward’s East Avenue address was one of the most prestigious addresses at that time. In addition, as a Kodak manager and friend of the family once remembered, family members of subsequent generations regularly spent their vacations in the luxurious spa town of Baden-Baden in southern Germany, where they enjoyed baths, champagne, and good food. Bausch’s American-born children and grandchildren also differed from the company’s founder in that they appeared to be more willing to surpass ethnic barriers and to integrate into community life as shown by their membership in numerous associations not related to immigrant traditions.
J. J. Bausch’s journey from poor immigrant to thriving entrepreneur and company founder might make Bausch appear to be a real-life American “self-made man.” However, Bausch had to struggle to survive in America even more than he had during his adolescence in Europe. By migrating into uncertain circumstances without sufficient experience or funds, he took a great risk and frequently came close to total failure. Although he adopted the business practices and commercial habits of his adopted country, he remained deeply embedded in his ethnic community and maintained strong ties to German-related business networks on both sides of the Atlantic. It was only because of the support of his ethnic network in Rochester and his family in Germany that he was able to continue his American adventure and ultimately “write” what is now known as the success story of the Bausch & Lomb Company.
 I am indebted to Hartmut Berghoff, Jean Geisel, Bryan Hart, Insa Kummer, Christina Lubinski, Nancy Martin, Werner Runschke, Benjamin Schwantes, Don Shilling, Uwe Spiekermann, and Patricia Sutcliffe for their assistance in the completion of this article in various capacities, from helping me find materials and shape my arguments to editing the final text.
 Substantial personal information on J. J. Bausch is taken from Arnold Vatter, “John Jakob Bausch—Der amerikanische Zeiss, 1830-1926,” in Lebensbilder aus Schwaben und Franken, Vol. 9, ed. Max Miller and Robert Uhland (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1963), 374-87, here 374-75; as well as from Arnold Vatter, “Vom Filstal an den Ontariosee: J. J. Bausch aus Süßen,” in Geschichtliche Mitteilungen von Geislingen und Umgebung 16 (1959): 124-31, and from Municipal Archive Süßen (MAS), Ba 6, transcript of memoirs of Johann Georg Bausch, ed. Eduard Bausch, June 23, 1953. J. J. Bausch’s own memoirs are also a commonly used and valuable source but, unfortunately, full of factual and chronological inconsistencies.
 Jakob brought the disease into the house and barely survived it himself,
 Bausch & Lomb Corporate Archive (BLCA), RG 10.5, Box 674, Folder: Reprint of Article by Michael Randall, “Do You Think That Luck Is against You?” American Magazine (date unknown [probably September 1922]): 1-20, here 8.
 Despite Bausch describing mid-nineteenth century Europe as a dreary place of poverty, political disorder, and crime in his memoirs, there is no indication that he suffered any extraordinary hardship. What, then, was the true catalyst for his adventure? Since he was not engaged in the failed democratic revolutions of 1848, he was not one of the few thousand political refugees called “forty-eighters.” Nor was he one of the jobless, unskilled workers who desperately jumped on the California Gold Rush bandwagon; nor did the pull factor of chain migration apply in his case, as he had no personal connections to people from earlier migration waves. As Bausch himself explicitly emphasized the uncertain prospects for business in Europe as a factor, we can regard him as one of numerous German emigrants pushed by the fear of pauperization, if not necessarily by an immediate threat thereof. Conzen, “Germans,” 410.
 Vatter, “Bausch,” 377-78. The Groß Süßen voyagers were far from alone in undertaking such a journey. Rather, their departure coincided with a peak wave of emigration from the pre- and early industrial southwestern German states, which was a mass phenomenon in the decades between the Congress of Vienna (1815) and the formation of the German Empire (1871). In this period, roughly 400,000 people left the Kingdom of Württemberg alone, where the emigration ratio exceeded the German average most of the time. In the late 1840s and 1850s, between 57 and 94 percent of Württemberg emigrants officially accounted for had listed the U.S. as their most important destination. Although individuals certainly had complex personal circumstances leading to their emigration, the research on German emigration has generally linked the rise in mass emigration among southwest Germans to poor harvests, increases in the cost of living, and economic deprivation. Yet Bausch’s home region, the district of Geislingen, was better off than other areas. Although it was well before the period of severe crisis, a contemporary observer in the early 1840s described the 1,200 inhabitants of Bausch’s native town of Groß Süßen as “largely well off” (großentheils wohlhabend). Wolfgang von Hippel, Auswanderung aus Südwestdeutschland. Studien zur württembergischen Auswanderung und Auswanderungspolitik im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1984), 115, 143, 148, 170, 254; Kathleen Neils Conzen, “Germans,” in Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, ed. Stephan Thernstrom (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1980), 405-25, here 411; and Christoph Friedrich von Stälin, Beschreibung des Oberamtes Geislingen, ed. Königlich statistisches-topographisches Bureau (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1842), 204.
 Von Hippel, Auswanderung, 128-32.
 Randall, “Do You Think,” 10.
 Vatter, “Bausch,” 378.
 BLCA, RG 10.1, Bausch & Lomb Family Collection, Family History/Genealogy, Folder 2: Ann Taylor Wendt, All of Us: A Biographical History of John Jacob Bausch and His Descendants from 1830 to 1978, unpublished manuscript.
 John Jacob Bausch, The Story of My Life, ed. William Bausch (Rochester, NY: privately printed, 1911), 21.
 Bausch attributed his long hesitation in assessing his situation and asking for help to his being “too proud” and “not wish[ing] to have the report spread about.” Ibid., 21.
 Joseph L. Bruneni, Looking Back: An Illustrated History of the American Ophthalmic Industry (Torrence, CA: Optical Laboratories Association, 1994), 3, 6-7.
 Neither Bausch’s memoirs nor other sources give the date of the accident, but it took place before Bausch established his optical store in 1853. These facts are based on Bausch’s recollections but lack historical documentation.
 All 2010 dollar figures based on Samuel H. Williamson, “Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present,” MeasuringWorth, 2011, using the Consumer Price Index unless otherwise noted.
 Bausch, Story of My Life, 35.
 “The Semi-Centennial of the Optical Industry in America,” Journal of Applied Microscopy and Laboratory Methods 6 (1903): 2441-44, here 2443.
 The popular Ray-Ban sunglasses series was first sold to the public in 1937. An Italian group took over the brand in 1999. Bausch & Lomb contact lenses were not introduced until 1971.
 Kerry Segrave, Vision Aids in America: A Social History of Eyewear and Sight Correction since 1900 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011), 3, 37.
 Sean Patrick Saßmannshausen, Carl Zeiss—Wachstum in schwieriger Zeit. Ein Beitrag zur Unternehmensgeschichte von 1914-1930 (Hamburg: Kovac, 2003), 56.
 J. William Rosenthal, Spectacles and Other Vision Aids: A History and Guide to Collecting (San Francisco, CA: Norman Publishing, 1996): 54-61.
 Segrave, Vision Aids, 87-88.
 Wendt, All of Us, 4, 9-10; “Semi-Centennial,” 2444; Vatter, “Bausch,” 385.
 “Semi-Centennial,” 2441-42; Rudolf Kingslake, The Photographic Manufacturing Companies of Rochester, NY (Rochester, NY: George Eastman House, 1997), 4. In 1900, the world largest microscope manufacturer was Ernst Leitz of Wetzlar, Germany, who then had sold 50,000 microscopes; second was Carl Zeiss of Jena, Germany (40,000), and B&L ranked third together with Carl Reichert of Vienna, Austria. See Heidi Trabert, “In vierzig Jahren zum Unternehmen von Weltruf,” in Ernst Leitz I. Vom Mechanicus zum Unternehmer von Weltruf, ed. Knut Kühn-Leitz (Stuttgart, 2010), 220.
 Nancy M. West, Kodak and the Lens of Nostalgia (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 2000), 41.
 Rudolf Kingslake, A History of the Photographic Lens (San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1989), 203.
 Franz Ludwig Neher, 50 Jahre Friedrich Deckel (Munich: privately printed, 1953), 48, 58.
 Mira Wilkins, The History of Foreign Investment in the United States, 1914-1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 34, 119, 459, 822.
 Saßmannshausen, Carl Zeiss, 221-22; Scott Lewis, Susan Windisch Brown, and Christina M. Stansell, “Bausch & Lomb Inc.” in International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 96, ed. Tina Grant (Detroit, MI: St. James Press, 2008): 20-26, here 21.
 Lewis et al., “Bausch & Lomb,” 21.
 Segrave, Vision Aids, 116.
 Bruneni, Looking Back, 173-76.
 Harm G. Schröter, “Cartelization and Decartelization in Europe 1870–1995: The Rise and Decline of an Economic Institution,” Journal of European Economic History 25.1 (1996): 129–53; Tony A. Freyer, Regulating Big Business: Antitrust in Great Britain and America, 1880-1990 (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1992); Wendell,, Cartels: Challenge to a Free World (Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1946), 175.
 For several dates of birth and death, see Kingslake, Photographic Lens, 236-37, 248-49, and 308-309.
 William F. Peck et al., Landmarks of Monroe County, NY (Boston: Boston History Company, 1895), Part 3, 265-66.
 Wendt, All of Us, 9-10; BCLA, RG 1, Executive Officer’s Files, Box 602, Folder 1: Charts of Bausch & Lomb Executive Officers.
 This equity stake is only verifiable for the year 1928 but seems to have been initiated earlier, probably before World War I. Kingslake, Photographic Manufacturing, 5; Archive of the Institute of Contemporary History Munich, Germany, OMGUS Shipment 17, Box 8248, Folder 6, BICO US Decartelization Commission from January 1946 to January 1947, decartelization case Friedrich Deckel company, Munich, affiliated with Carl Zeiss, articles of partnership and company information. I am grateful to Dr. Christina Lubinski for pointing out this document.
 Berge,Cartels, 144-45.
 Saßmannshausen, Carl Zeiss, 56; Anita Kuisle, Brillen. Gläser, Fassungen, Herstellung (Munich: Deutsches Museum, 1985), 79.
 Saßmannshausen, Carl Zeiss, 57-58, 72-74; Lee Sullivan, Bausch & Lomb: Perfecting Vision, Enhancing Life for 150 Years, ed. Bausch & Lomb Corporate Communications and Investor Relations (Rochester, NY: privately printed, 2004), 27-28; Kingslake, Photographic Lens, 71.
 Berge, Cartels, 145.
 Martin Herbert Eisenhart, J. J. Bausch (1830-1926): American Pioneer (New York, NY: Newcomen Society of England American Branch, 1948), 20.
 Wendt, All of Us, 28.
 BCLA, RG 10.1, Bausch & Lomb Family Collection, Family History/Genealogy, Folder Bausch naturalization papers: Monroe County Court in the matter of J. J. Bausch, 1856. Contrary to Bausch’s own account in Story of My Life, 9, his baptismal record spells his name as Jakob. See MAS Ba 8, transcript of excerpt of church register Süßen on selected Bausch family members, June 19, 1953. Referring to him as Johann or Johann Jacob is incorrect.
 Blake McKelvey, “The Germans of Rochester: Their Traditions and Contributions,” Rochester History 20.1 (1958): 1–28, here 21; US Bureau of the Census, Population Division Working Paper No. 27, “Population of the 100 Largest Cities and Other Urban Places in the United States: 1790 to 1990” (by Campbell Gibson), Tables 9, 12, 15 (accessed August 2, 2011); Conzen, “Germans,” 413.
 BCLA, RG 10.4, Box 674, Binder: Newspaper Clippings Pertaining to Death of Mr. John J. Bausch: “John J. Bausch vom Tode abberufen,”Rochester Abendpost, February 15, 1926.
 Vatter, “Bausch,” 386.
 BCLA, RG 10.4, Box 674, Binder: Newspaper Clippings Pertaining to Death of Mr. John J. Bausch: “John J. Bausch to Observe His 90th Birthday on Sunday,” Rochester Times-Union, July 23, 1920.
 Bausch, Story of My Life, 3.
 Reese V. Jenkins, Oral History Interview with Adolph Stuber, June 11-13, 1976 (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester, 1978), 165.