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Maurice Wertheim


The Wertheim Study is a hidden gem at The New York Public Library, though certainly treasured by the writers and scholars that use it.  But who was Maurice Wertheim?

Born in 1886 and a Harvard graduate, he wore many hats.  He began his career at the United Cigar Manufacturers Company, moving on to Hallgarten & Co., the Underwood Corporation, the Cuban Atlantic Sugar Company, the Hat Corporation of America, the Bond Stores Company, and his own company, Wertheim & Co.  During WWII he served on the War Production Board and with the War Department.  In addition, he was a founder of the New York Theatre Guild, a trustee of The Nation (and its publisher from 1935 to 1937), the Federation of Jewish Philanthopies of New York, the American Wildlife Foundation and Mount Sinai Hospital.  More intimate pursuits included chess and fishing. In 1947, he donated to the Government 1,800 acres of land bordering Carmans River and Great South Bay in Suffolk County as a wild life refuge.  He died in 1950 at the age of 64. 

The Study was established in the early 1960s by one of his three daughters, the historian and very great friend of The New York Public Library, Barbara Tuchman.  Now there was a smart woman who could write history for you and me - with verve, clarity, forward-moving narrative, and not in the least shy stating her conclusions.  If you don't know A Distant Mirror (medieval life) or The Guns of August (the outbreak of WWI and for which she won one of her two Pulitzer Prizes), treat yourself to a good read. 

I applaud her modesty and her honoring her father.

(Image from the Hamlet People Database)


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