THE LIZ LIBRARY PRESENTS:
This child, the youngest in his family, was born in the mid-1800s in upstate New York. He had two older sisters; a third sister died before his birth. His father, an educator, established a small commercial college, but then died when the boy was eight. When he was 14, the boy had to drop out of school to support his mother and sisters. He first went to work as a clerk at an insurance firm, and then worked in a bank.
When he was in his early twenties, a hobby he had come to enjoy in his spare time gave rise to an invention that he worked on for three years in his mother's kitchen. A man he met through work offered to go into business with him to help market the invention. They patented the invention and formed a company together. One invention led to another, and within a few years, still another invention made the company extremely successful.
By the time he was in his fifties, this child had become one of the wealthiest men in the world. Today he is reknown for his generous financial gifts in furtherance of education and technological innovation. By the time of his death, he had donated in excess of 100 million dollars to numerous colleges and universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Rochester, Tuskeegee Institute, Hampton Institute, and Mechanics College (now known as the Rochester Institute of Technology). He also donated generously to the arts, museums, and in furtherance of medical services.
He also founded a charity called the Community Chest, which is now known as the United Way. Interestingly, many of his donations were made anonymously under the name of "Mr. Smith".
The original invention that gave rise to this philanthropic fortune was a method of developing photographs, another was rolled film, and another was the brownie camera, which, when put on the market in 1900, brought photography to the general public by making it easy and affordable for the first time.
On the 100th anniversary of his birth, the United States honored his memory with a postage stamp. On the wall of one of the buildings at MIT is a plaque of "Mr. Smith" that for decades students there traditionally have rubbed for good luck.
This child, widely regarded as the father of popular photography, and indisputably one of America's greatest educational philanthropists, was the founder of Eastman-Kodak,
George Eastman, a boy from
a "fatherless home."
* The term "fatherless" is used in this series as it is in current research and policy rhetoric by the U.S. federal government, DHHS and the National Fatherhood Initiative, most U.S. states in connection with child custody law and policy, and various family values and fatherhood interest policy and lobbying groups.
"...Just add Dad, the magic ingredient. It's hard to know where wishful thinking becomes deliberate deception. But this argument, advanced by the fathers' rights movement, is like saying that, since Mercedes Benz owners make more money than people who drive Hyundais, you will become wealthy if you buy a Mercedes..." Mike Peterson
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