Julius Rosenwald

Julius Rosenwald : The Man Who Built Sears, Roebuck and Advanced the Cause of Black Education in the American South

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In this richly revealing biography of a major, but little-known, American businessman and philanthropist, Peter M. Ascoli brings to life a portrait of Julius Rosenwald, the man and his work. The son of first-generation German Jewish immigrants, Julius Rosenwald, known to his friends as "JR," apprenticed for his uncles, who were major clothing manufacturers in New York City. It would be as a men's clothing salesperson that JR would make his fateful encounter with Sears, Roebuck and Company, which he eventually fashioned into the greatest mail order firm in the world. He also founded Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. And in the American South Rosenwald helped support the building of the more than 5,300 schools that bore his name. Yet the charitable fund he created during World War I went out of existence in 1948 at his expressed wish. Ascoli provides a fascinating account of Rosenwald's meteoric rise in American business, but he also portrays a man devoted to family and with a desire to help his community that led to a lifelong devotion to philanthropy. He tells about Rosenwald's important philanthropic activities, especially those connected with the Rosenwald schools and Booker T. Washington, and later through the Rosenwald Fund. Ascoli's account of Rosenwald is an inspiring story of hard work and success, and of giving back to the nation in which he prospered.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 472 pages
  • 155 x 235 x 24.13mm | 640g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 22 b&w photos
  • 0253020581
  • 9780253020581
  • 2,034,659

Review quote

This book is a great start in giving Rosenwald the attention he deserves. * Library Journal * In this richly revealing biography of a major, but little-known, American busienssman and philanthropist, Peter Ascoli brings to life a portrait of Julius Rosenwald, the man and his work. * McCormick Messenger * Ascoli's work will stand as the definitive biography of Juiius Rosenwald for a long time to come. -- David Blanke * An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies * It is no wonder . . . that when Rosenwald died in 1932, W. E. B. DuBois declared, 'He was a great man. But he was no mere philanthropist. He was, rather, the subtle stinging critic of our racial democracy.'. . . Set against the virtual absence of black education in the rural South beforehand, his [Rosenwald's] schools qualified as revolutionary. . . . Rosenwald established a standard of enlightenment, impact and common sense. * Moment * As Ascoli shows in this . . . thorough biography, Rosenwald was a compelling figure, a mensch who followed his principles, mixing good business with good social justice. * The Forward * In Julius Rosenwald . . . his grandson Peter Max Ascoli has done well in searching out the scattered sources that previous biographers have neglected. In particular, we now have a much clearer understanding of Rosenwald's relations with contemporary social reformers like Jane Addams. * Chronicle Review *show more

About Peter M. Ascoli

Peter M. Ascoli taught at Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago from 1995-2015. Prior to that, he taught at Utah State University and served as director of development for Chicago Opera Theater and Steppenwolf Theater Company. He is the grandson of Julius Rosenwald.show more

Table of contents

PrefaceAcknowledgments1. Youth and First Business Ventures, 1862-18952. Early Sears Years, 1895-19083. Blacks, Politics, and Philanthropy, 1908-19124. Black Schools, Political Attacks, and the Profit Sharing Plan, 1912-19165. World War I, 1916-1918 6. The Rescue of Sears and the Consolidation of Philanthropic Endeavors, 1919-19247. New Philanthropic Ventures, 1924-19288. The Julius Rosenwald Fund, Hoover, and the Depression, 1928-19309. Final Year and Postmortem, 1931-1949ConclusionNotesBibliographyIndexshow more

Rating details

21 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 43% (9)
4 19% (4)
3 33% (7)
2 5% (1)
1 0% (0)
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