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The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age
by Janet Wallach 6:00 pm Thursday, February 1, 2018
Originally guided by the shrewd money-men in her family, Hetty Green grew up to be one of the most powerful financiers in American history. A businesswoman who transcended the expectations set upon women of her time, she was interested in a diverse array of money-making opportunities such as real estate, railroads, and financial loans. Even as a married woman and mother of two, Hetty Green remained financially independent and amassed a great fortune. Despite yellow journalism's obsession with the portrayal of her quirky and meager lifestyle, her legacy is not wholly as "The Witch of Wall Street" but rather as the fiercely independent, "Richest Woman in America."
Janet Wallach is the author of nine books and has written extensively about influential women. Her latest, The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age, is a biography of the eccentric 19th century financial genius. The Wall Street Journal called it "an engaging biography...well researched and well written" The Washington Post said it "tells the story of Americas repeated busts and booms in a way that seems very relevant right now." Ms. Wallach is the author of Chanel: Her Style and Her Life, a bio of the 20th century's most important female fashion designer. Her book Sergalio is a historical novel about the harem at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul.
Wallach's other work includes, Desert Queen; The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell, published by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday (1996), was translated into twelve languages, and was a New York Times notable book of the year. The N.Y. Times Sunday Book Review said, “Ms. Wallach is an expert on the region and her knowledge is on full display here. The San Francisco Chronicle called it “necessary reading for anyone interested in the Middle East.” It was nominated best book of the year by Elle magazine.
This program is generously sponsored by:
Susan S. Stautberg
Additional support provided by:
Alva Vanderbilt Belmont: Unlikely Champion of Women's Rights
by Dr. Sylvia Hoffert 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Born Alva Erskine Smith to an affluent cotton broker on January 17, 1853, in Mobile, Alabama, Alva Vanderbilt Belmont led a fascinating life. Educated in France, where her family moved after the Civil War, Alva returned to the United States In the early 1870s settling in New York City with her mother and sisters. In 1875 she married William K. Vanderbilt, grandson of transportation tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt and immediately set about to advance her and her husband's status by commissioning Richard Morris Hunt to design their mansion on Fifth Avenue.
While extremely wealthy, Belmont and her husband were initially excluded from the famed Four Hundred. Alva finally won her place in New York society at a legendary costume ball in 1883 to which she invited all of New York's elite, except for Mr. and Mrs. Astor on the grounds that Mrs. Astor had never paid her a visit. Mrs. Astor soon came calling, and Alva quickly secured her place as a member of New York society. For their summer home in Newport, Alva again turned to Richard Morris Hunt. Known as Marble House, Alva's new summer home was inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles. The opulent summer estate soon became the setting for numerous social events. Alva shocked society in March 1895 when she divorced Vanderbilt and married one of her former husband's friends Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, taking up residence just across the street in Newport in Belcourt Castle.
Following Oliver Belmont's death in 1908, Alva invested her time and fortune at the service of the struggle for women's suffrage and rights, founding the Political Equality Association in New York City and traveling to England where she attended suffrage rallies and was inspired by work of such ardent suffragists as Emmeline Pankhurst. Alva embraced the use of more militant tactics in the fight to win the vote at home. In 1914, she left the NAWSA and focused her efforts on the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, founded by Alice Paul, serving on the organization's board. The Union later became known as the National Women's Party (NWP). Following the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote in 1920, Alva took over the leadership of the NWP and helped establish its new headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Susan S. Stautberg
American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady Randolph Churchill
by Anne Sebba 6:00 p.m. Thursday, February 9, 2017
Jeanette (Jennie) Jerome was the daughter of a prosperous American financier and a socially ambitious mother. In 1867, she and her two sisters were taken to Paris by their mother and from there received an education and were introduced to European society. In 1873, she met and charmed young Lord Randolph Churchill, son of the Duke of Marlborough, and they were married in 1874 and had two sons, Winston and Jack.
Lady Randolph Churchill was known as an innovator and trendsetter. Though her reputation was often sullied by scandal and rumor, she remained respected among the aristocratic circles. She founded and edited the lavish but short-lived Anglo-Saxon Review and she raised money for the wartime hospital ship, the Maine, which did valuable work in South Africa.
Critically acclaimed author and journalist, Anne Sebba, celebrates Jennie Jerome as both a fearless influence and a mother with an indomitable spirit.
Susan S. Stautberg
Whitehall and the Gilded Age Taste for French Furniture
by F. Carey Howlett, President and Chief Conservator of F. Carey Howlett and Associates 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Throughout this year, the suite of historic French-style furniture in Whitehall's Music Room has undergone extensive conservation. On Tuesday, December 15 at 6:00 pm, the Museum will present a public lecture about Whitehall's French furnishings in the context of Gilded Age furniture collecting. Whitehall and the Gilded Age Taste for French Furniture, presented in the French-style Grand Ballroom, will also review the conservation project and present best practices in the care and preservation of antique furniture. The lecture will be presented by F. Carey Howlett, an experienced conservator of furniture, decorative arts, and architectural materials, who led the recent conservation project.
The Canal Builders
by Dr. Julie Greene, President of Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Professor of History at the University of Maryland at College Park December 16, 2014,7:00 p.m.
In conjunction with the Fall Exhibition, Kiss of the Oceans, Dr. Julie Greene will present the special lecture, "The Canal Builders" inside the Flagler Museum's Grand Ballroom. There will be a book signing following the lecture.
Dr. Julie Greene is the president of the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. She is a 2013-2014 Rockefeller Foundation Fellow and Professor of History at the University of Maryland at College Park.
It’s About Time: An Overview of the Evolution of Time Measurement
by Michael Friedman February 4, 2015 6:00 p.m.
Join Michael Friedman, Historian for Audemars Piguet, for an illustrated lecture in the Museum's Grand Ballroom on the evolution of time measurement from sundials to the atomic clock.
Before being appointed Historian for Audemars Piguet, Michael spent a decade operating his own horological consulting firm, advising international collectors and institutions. Earlier in his career, he served as Curator of the National Watch & Clock Museum where he curated and co-developed 15,000 square feet of exhibition space on the history of timekeeping, before serving as Vice President and Department Head of Watches for Christie's in New York.