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Julius Rosenwald

Born: 12-Aug-1862
Birthplace: Springfield, IL
Died: 6-Jan-1932
Location of death: Chicago, IL
Cause of death: unspecified [1]
Remains: Buried, Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, IL

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Philanthropist
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Sears executive and Good Samaritan

Julius Rosenwald had his first business success as part-owner of Rosenwald and Weil Clothiers, one of the first companies to offer clothing in standardized sizes. After Alvah C. Roebuck left the partnership of the then-struggling firm Sears Roebuck, Rosenthal bought half of Roebuck's share of the business, and became Vice President of Sears' mail order operation, building it into a powerhouse. After adding durables, dry goods, and furniture to the store's selection, Rosenwald became a millionaire when the company went public, and rose to become the President of Sears in 1908. When the mail-order business began declining after World War I, Rosenwald saved the company from ruin with a $21M loan, and oversaw the construction of the company's first retail store in 1925. Within a few years the company owned several hundred stores, transforming Sears into a modern chain. Again in the days immediately following the stock market crash of 1929, Rosenwald pledged his personal fortune as collateral against the faltering stock, almost certainly preventing the company's bankruptcy.

Noted for his philanthropy, Rosenwald gave millions to promote education for Southern blacks, and provided aid for European refugees and reconstruction after World War I. He underwrote the Rosenwald Foundation (a.k.a. Rosenwald Fund) and Rosenwald Fellowships with about $30M, targeting aid to African-Americans, European Jews, and construction of rural public schools and affordable urban housing. He was the sole investor in construction of Chicago's Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments, five-story walk-ups covering a full city block and rented primarily to African-Americans at sub-market rates, which served as a model for later development of public housing. In 1926 he pledged $3M toward what became the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, under his innovative "matching funds" system, where his donation was dependent upon the museum also raising $3M from other sources. He also gave millions to Booker T. Washingtonís Tuskegee Institute, the University of Chicago, and the YMCA. After his wife's death in 1929, Rosenwald married the widowed mother of his eldest son's wife.


[1] Announced as "arteriosclerosis, heart and kidney disease."

Father: Samuel Rosenwald (haberdasher)
Mother: Augusta Hammerslough Rosenwald
Brother: Morris Rosenwald
Wife: Augusta Nusbaum Rosenwald (d. 1929)
Son: Lessing Rosenwald (Sears executive)
Son: William Rosenwald (b. circa 1904)
Daughter:
Nina Rosenwald (philanthropist)
Daughter: Edith Rosenwald Sulzberger Stern
Daughter: Adele Rosenwald Deutsch

    Administrator: Board of Directors, Tuskegee Institute (1912-32)

    Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Benefactor and President (1927-32)
    Member of the Board of Sears Roebuck (1924-32)
    Sears Roebuck President (1908-24)
    Sears Roebuck Vice President of Mail Order (1895-1910)
    NAACP
    German Ancestry
    Jewish Ancestry

Author of books:
Reconstructing America (1919)


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