E. Roland Harriman

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"Edward Harriman" redirects here. For the railroad executive, see E. H. Harriman.
E. Roland Harriman
Born December 24, 1895
New York City
Died February 16, 1978
Arden, New York
Education Groton School
Yale University
Occupation Businessman, philanthropist
Spouse(s) Gladys Fries Harriman
Children Elizabeth Harriman
Phyllis Harriman Mason
Relatives W. Averell Harriman (brother)

E. Roland Harriman (December 24, 1895 in New York City - February 16, 1978 in Arden, New York) was a financier and philanthropist. For those who were very close to him, his nickname was "Bunny".


Early life[edit]

Edward Roland Noel Harriman was born on December 24, 1895 in New York City.[1] He was the youngest of five surviving children of Mary Williamson Averell and Edward Henry Harriman.[1][2] Among his siblings was W. Averell Harriman, the financier and government official, four years his senior.[1] Edward H. Harriman's estate was substantial, variously estimated between $70 million and $100 million upon his death in 1909.

He was educated at Groton School, from which he graduated in 1913, and Yale University (B.A., 1917), where he was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity.[1][2] He was also a member of Skull and Bones with his classmate and friend Prescott Bush.[3] During World War I, he served for ten months as an inspector with the rank of lieutenant in the United States Army Ordnance Department. Stricken with pneumonia and influenza, he was honorably discharged in January 1919.


After regaining his health in California, he joined the Merchants Shipbuilding Corporation that November, a firm in which his brother Averell had an interest.

In 1922, he joined W. A. Harriman Company, investment bankers in New York City, and the following year, he became its Vice President. In 1927, the two brothers formed the banking firm Harriman Brothers and Company.[1] In 1931, the firm was merged with Brown Bros. & Co., with Roland as Vice President. Headquartered on Wall Street, Brown Brothers Harriman started with nine partners and about two hundred employees. The firm performed specialized banking services for customers, mainly medium-sized corporations; it was not a member of the Federal Reserve System or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

In 1968, Harriman and three other senior partners at Brown Brothers (Robert A. Lovett, secretary of defense under President Harry Truman; Prescott Bush, former senator from Connecticut; and Knight Woolley—all Yale men), moved "upstairs," literally and figuratively, to make way for the younger partners, one of whom was Robert Roosa, former undersecretary of the Treasury. In 1975, a few years prior to Harriman's death, there were twenty-nine partners and approximately one thousand employees.

He served as the Chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad for twenty-three years.[1]


With his wife, he established the Irving Sherwood Wright professorship in geriatrics at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and provided funds for cardiovascular research at the hospital.

He joined the American Red Cross as a member of the Board of Governors in 1947, helped reorganize it after World War II, served as manager for the organization's North Atlantic area from 1944 to 1946, was its vice-president and national annual fund appeal chair in 1949, and was appointed its president by President Truman, to succeed General George Marshall in 1950.[1] President Dwight Eisenhower reappointed him president in 1953.

His other philanthropic board memberships included that of the American Museum of Natural History, for which he was also treasurer. He was also the Chairman of the U.S. Trotting Association.[1] He was also President and Chairman of the Boys' Club of New York.[1]

Personal life[edit]

He married Gladys Fries Harriman on April 12, 1917.[1] They had two children. His eldest daughter was Elizabeth Harriman who was married to Alexander C. Northrop, then Maximillian Bliss, Jr., His other daughter was the landscape painter Phyllis Harriman Mason. She was married for several years to fellow artist Frank Herbert Mason.


He died on February 16, 1978 in Arden, New York.[1]


  • I Reminisce (1975).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kenneth T. Jackson, Lisa Keller, Nancy Flood, The Encyclopedia of New York City, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2010 [1]
  2. ^ a b JOIN YALE FRATERNITIES.; E. Roland Harriman Among Those Elected to Junior Societies., The New York Times, November 19, 1914
  3. ^ Phillips, Kevin (2004). American dynasty: aristocracy, fortune, and the politics of deceit in the house of Bush. Penguin.