This book provides substantial profiles of individuals and families who made significant contributions to the American philanthropic tradition from the 1600s to the present. The volume encompasses men and women who significantly shaped American life by their dedication to voluntary service or charitable donations. The 78 entries describe 110 individuals (a number of essays describe entire families, such as the Rockefellers, Booths, and Guggenheims). Most essays are 1,500-2,500 words in length, but family entries range from 2,500-9,000 words. Each essay examines a philanthropist’s early years, education, and career, and then focuses upon his or her philanthropic philosophy and actions. Particular attention is paid to an individual’s motivations and justifications for philanthropy.
Short samples of each philanthropist’s writings are included, and the important societal contributions of each individual’s philanthropic activity are assessed. All entries are cross-referenced and include a bibliographic list of references (print and nonprint sources). Many feature photos, and some describe the location of personal papers and other manuscript sources. This book also includes a preface, introduction, timeline, and lists of videos and children’s books on American philanthropy. Sixty scholars contributed to this volume, each of who is notable for work on certain individuals or in the broad field of American philanthropy. These contributors did a great deal of original research, making this book the only source for detailed information on many of the included individuals.