Entries in First Generation

Aaron, Daniel
A cofounder, president, and CEO of the Comcast cable empire, Daniel Aaron emigrated with his family to the United States in 1937. Continue Reading »
Albrecht, Charles
Charles Albrecht was one of the most important musical instrument makers in early America. He immigrated to Philadelphia in the mid-1780s and by 1789 went into business as a piano maker. His business thrived for nearly thirty years in a very competitive market, as more instrument makers settled in Philadelphia and imported pianos became increasingly common. By 1825, Albrecht had earned sufficient wealth to retire from the instrument-making business and became a leisured gentleman. Continue Reading »
Anneke, Mathilde Franziska (née Giesler)
Mathilde Franziska Anneke was an entrepreneur, lecturer, educator, journalist, writer, and a newspaper editor. She was well educated and a free and independent thinker, interested in political and social reform on behalf of women in both the German lands and the United States. Continue Reading »
Astor, John Jacob
Over the course of John Jacob Astor's career, he applied his great entrepreneurial talent to build the first modern American trade empire with partners in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Continue Reading »
Aust, Gottfried
German immigrants Gottfied Aust and Rudolph Christ established a long-lasting, important, and distinctive pottery tradition in the southern United States. Master potter Gottfried Aust settled in Bethabara, one of the earliest Moravian communities in North Carolina, in 1755. He and his apprentices and journeymen, including Rudolph Christ (who replaced Aust as master in 1789), were some of the earliest American potters to experiment with the production of creamware, white, salt-glazed stoneware, and tin-glazed earthenware. Together, Aust and Christ developed a distinct aesthetic tradition that would continue to be appreciated centuries later for both its visual and aesthetic qualities. Continue Reading »
Baer, Ralph
Ralph Baer was an engineer and inventor particularly known for creating the first videogame console. Baer and his family came to the United States as German Jewish refugees in 1938 when Baer was sixteen years old and settled in the Bronx in New York City. Although he spent the majority of his career working within military defense contracting, he remained a passionate inventor of electronic games and toys. To support this passion, Baer established his consulting firm, R. H. Baer Consultants, in 1975, through which he partnered with well-known companies. Over the course of his life, his inventions and over one-hundred and fifty U.S. and international patents have contributed to the advancement of military defense, television technology, video gaming, electronic toys, and other electronic consumer products. Continue Reading »
Bausch, John
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. Continue Reading »
Bechtler, Christopher
Jeweler, watchmaker, and gunsmith, Christopher Bechtler founded the most successful private mint in the eastern United States. During its peak production from 1831 to 1840, Bechtler’s North Carolina mint rivaled the output of the federal mints and was a significant stimulus to the economy of the state. Continue Reading »
Beringer, Jacob
Jacob Beringer, along with his older sibling Frederick, founded Beringer Brothers Winery in St. Helena, California (Napa County) in 1875. Continue Reading »
Berliner, Emile
Although he has been overshadowed in the public imagination by contemporaries Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, German-American inventor and entrepreneur Emile Berliner actually improved two inventions associated closely with those other men, the telephone and the talking machine. Continue Reading »
Berlitz, Maximilian D
German-Jewish immigrant Maximilian D. Berlitz founded the first Berlitz School of Languages in the United States in 1878. He went on to create a company that made his name synonymous with foreign-language instruction in the United States and throughout the world. Continue Reading »
Bettmann, Otto
Otto Ludwig Bettmann was a German Jewish refugee who emigrated from Berlin to New York City in 1935 and established a unique picture archive in the United States. At a time when photojournalism was on the rise, he was able to channel his personal penchant and obsession for collecting pictures into a thriving business. Continue Reading »
Bloede, Victor Gustav
Between his birth in Germany and his death eighty-eight years later in Catonsville, Maryland, Victor Bloede became an eminent chemist and the proprietor of his flagship enterprise, the Baltimore-based Victor G. Bloede Company. Bloede was a real-estate developer, a banker, the founder of a construction company, a gentleman farmer, an advocate for issues of public concern, and a generous philanthropist. Continue Reading »
Boas, Emil
Emil Leopold Boas was the general manager and resident director of the Hamburg-America Steamship Company (Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft or HAPAG) in New York City from 1892 to 1912. Boas joined HAPAG after serving in various capacities in the Hamburg and New York offices of his uncle's steamship ticket agency, C.B. Richard & Boas Co. Continue Reading »
Bolter, Andrew
Andrew Bolter started A. Bolter Co. in 1856 and became one of Chicago’s leading iron founders. After rebuilding his business following the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Bolter garnered attention for the artistic steel designs produced by his renamed Illinois Iron Works while also gathering one of the country’s largest and most complete collections of exotic and North American insects. Continue Reading »
Boyle, Gertrude
In 1970, when Gert Boyle became the president of Columbia Sportswear, the company was a small, struggling organization with low profit margins. Five years later, Columbia went international and was expanding at an impressive rate. Continue Reading »
Brach, Emil Julius
Emil J. Brach opened a small candy shop on North Avenue in Chicago’s largely German-American North Side neighborhood in 1904. By the time of his death forty-three years later, his candy company would be the world’s largest maker of popular-priced bulk candies, with a sprawling factory on Chicago’s west side believed to be the largest candy factory in the United States. Continue Reading »
Bronner, Emanuel
Emanuel Bronner was a pioneer of natural cosmetics. Coming from a traditional German soap maker family, he founded Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps in 1948. While the business remained small in terms of turnover and profits, its liquid peppermint soap was one of the first all-natural products available on the post-World War II American market. Continue Reading »
Brune, Frederick W.
Frederick W. Brune was one of the most prominent merchants in Baltimore's history. Brune immigrated to Baltimore from Bremen in 1799 and worked as a partner in the merchant house of Von Kapff & Brune, which was later renamed F.W. Brune & Sons. Continue Reading »
Busch, Adolphus
Adolphus Busch arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1857 as an unknown immigrant from German-speaking Europe. After partnering with Eberhard Anheuser in an existing brewery in 1865, Busch transformed the operation, eventually known as the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association, into the largest brewery in the world within a quarter of a century. Continue Reading »