Levi Strauss

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This article is about the clothing manufacturer. For the anthropologist, see Claude Lévi-Strauss.
Levi Strauss
Levi Strauss 1.jpg
Born Löb Strauß
(1829-02-26)February 26, 1829
Buttenheim, Germany
Died September 26, 1902(1902-09-26) (aged 73)
San Francisco, California, U.S
Known for Founding the first company to manufacture blue jeans

Levi Strauss (/ˌlv ˈstrs/, born Löb Strauß, German: [løːp ˈʃtʁaʊs]; February 26, 1829 – September 26, 1902) was an American businessman of German Jewish descent who founded the first company to manufacture blue jeans. His firm, Levi Strauss & Co., began in 1853 in San Francisco, California.[1]

Origins[edit]

Birthplace of Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss was born in Buttenheim, Germany on February 26, 1829, in the Franconian region of Bavaria, Germany, to an Ashkenazi Jewish family.[2] He was the son of Hirsch Strauss and his second wife Rebecca Strauss.[3][4] At the age of 18, Strauss, his mother and two sisters traveled to the United States to join his brothers Jonas and Louis, who had begun a wholesale dry goods business in New York City called J. Strauss Brother & Co.[5]

Business career[edit]

Levi's sister Fanny and her husband David Stern moved to St. Louis, Missouri, while Levi went to live in Louisville and sold his brothers' supplies in Kentucky.[6] In January 1853, Levi Strauss became a USA citizen.[7]

The family decided to open a West Coast branch of the family dry goods business in San Francisco, which was the commercial hub of the California Gold Rush. Levi was chosen to represent the family and he took a steamship for San Francisco, arriving in early March 1853, where he joined his sister's family.[8]

Strauss opened his dry goods wholesale business as Levi Strauss & Co. and imported fine dry goods—clothing, bedding, combs, purses, handkerchiefs—from his brothers in New York. Levi lived with Fanny's growing family.[9]

Jacob Davis, one of Strauss's customers and inventor of the first pair of riveted denim pants, went into business with Strauss to produce blue jeans. The two men patented the new style of work pants in 1873.[10]

Death[edit]

Levi Strauss died on September 26, 1902 in San Francisco at the age of 73. He never married, so he left the business to his four nephews, Jacob, Sigmund, Louis, and Abraham Stern, the sons of his sister Fanny and her husband David Stern. He also left bequests to a number of charities, such as the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum and the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum. Levi's fortune was estimated to be around 6 million dollars[11] (about $163,546,154 in 2014 dollars[12]). He was buried in Colma, California.

Legacy[edit]

A Levi Strauss museum is maintained in Buttenheim, Germany, located in the 1687 house where Strauss was born. There is also a Visitors Center at Levi Strauss & Co. world headquarters in San Francisco, which features a number of historical exhibits. There is a Levi Strauss Foundation starting with an 1897 donation to the University of California, Berkeley.[13][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Downey, Lynn (2008). "Levi Strauss: a short biography". Levi Strauss & Co. Retrieved 1 January 2011. [dead link]
  2. ^ Dinkelspiel, Frances (2010). Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California. St. Johns Martin's Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-312-35527-2. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  3. ^ http://www.joachim-dietze.de/pdf/levis_aa.pdf
  4. ^ http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=DAC18690108.2.38.1 * 6 July 1799, + 8 January 1869
  5. ^ Carey, Charles W. (2002). American inventors, entrepreneurs and business visionaries. Facts on File. pp. 331–332. ISBN 978-0-8160-4559-4. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Evans, Harold (2004). They made America. Little Brown. ISBN 9780316277662. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  7. ^ Feldberg, Michael (2002). Blessings of freedom: chapters in American Jewish history. KTAV Publishing. p. 172. ISBN 9780881257557. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Leiman, Sondra (1994). America: the Jewish experience. UAHC Press. p. 59. ISBN 9780807405000. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Downe, Lynn (2007). Levi Strauss & Co.. Arcadia Publishers. p. 9. ISBN 9780738555539. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  10. ^ U.S. Patent 139,121
  11. ^ Associated Press (28 September 1902). "Levi Strauss Dead". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 May 2012. "Levi Strauss, one of the last of the oldtime merchants of San Francisco. and one of the best-known men from the most southerly limit of California to Puget Sound." 
  12. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  13. ^ "Foundations - Levi Strauss & Co". Levistrauss.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07. [dead link]
  14. ^ Thomas, Grace Powers (1898). Where to educate, 1898-1899. A guide to the best private schools, higher institutions of learning, etc., in the United States. Boston: Brown and Company. p. 10. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 

External links[edit]