Jump to content

Louis E. Kirstein

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Louis Kirstein)
Louis E. Kirstein
Kirstein in 1938
Louis Edward Kirstein

(1867-06-09)June 9, 1867
DiedDecember 10, 1942(1942-12-10) (aged 75)
Occupation(s)Businessman, philanthropist
SpouseRose Stein

Louis Edward Kirstein (June 9, 1867 – December 10, 1942) was an American businessman and philanthropist. He was the chairman of Filene's, a Boston-based department store. He was "one of the foremost merchants and commercial leaders in New England,"[1] and "one of the outstanding leaders of American Jewry."[2]

Early life


Kirstein was born on June 9, 1867, in Rochester, New York.[1][2][3] His father, Edward Kirstein, was an immigrant from Germany who first worked as a peddler and eventually owned an optics store in Rochester.[4] His mother was Jeanette Leiter.[3] His uncle owned a clothing manufacturing company in Rochester, the Stein-Bloch Co. Kirstein left school at 13.[4]



Kirstein began his career by working in the baseball industry.[4] He hired John McGraw to play in Florida for $50 a month.[3] He subsequently purchased the Rochester Ball Club.[3][4] In 1890, he worked as a peripatetic salesman for his father; four years later, he worked in the same capacity for his uncle.[4]

Kirstein became a major investor and vice president of Filene's, a department store headquartered in Boston, in 1912.[4][5] He subsequently became its chairman.[5] He also served on the boards of directors of Abraham & Straus, Lazarus, Bloomingdale's, R. H. White, and the Federated Department Stores (now known as Macy's, Inc.).[5] He often negotiated with organized labor and encouraged other businessmen to do the same.[3] He became "one of the foremost merchants and commercial leaders in New England."[1]

Kirstein was the co-founder and chairman of the American Retail Federation.[4][5] He served on the Massachusetts Industrial Commission,[4] the National Labor Board as well as on the Business Advisory Council of the United States Department of Commerce.[2] He also served on the Industrial Advisory Board of the New Deal's National Recovery Administration.[4] He was a charter member of the Business Historical Society.[4]



Kirstein was the founder and president of the Associated Jewish Philanthropies of Boston.[2][5] He was also the chairman of the General Committee of the American Jewish Committee, and the honorary national chairman of the United Jewish Appeal.[2] Additionally, he served as a director of the National Jewish Welfare Board. He was the president of the Graduate School for Jewish Social Work,[2] now known as the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University. He was also a member of the National Conference of Jews and Christians.[5] Additionally, he served on the visiting committee of the Semitic Museum, and he supported the Beth Israel Hospital.[3] He became known as "one of the outstanding leaders of American Jewry."[2]

Kirstein joined the board of the Boston Public Library in 1919, and he served as its president five times.[3] He was also associated with the Boston Community Fund.[4] He was awarded an honorary master of arts degree from Harvard University in 1933 and an honorary doctorate of commercial science from Boston University in 1938.[5] He became associated with the Harvard Business School,[3] where a professorship (now held by Jay Lorsch) was named in his honor.[6]

Personal life and death


Kirstein married Rose Stein, whose father worked for his uncle's company.[3] They had two sons and a daughter.[4] He died of pneumonia on December 10, 1942, in Boston.[1][2] His papers are held at the Harvard Business School's Baker Library.[7]

The Kirsteins had a second home in the North Shore. In 1914, Louis Kirstein bought the Peabody estate in Salem to develop the Kernwood Country Club.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d Isaacs, Ronald H.; Olitzky, Kerry M. (1992). A Glossary of Jewish Life. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson. p. 140. ISBN 9781568219653. OCLC 36391734.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Louis E. Kirstein Dies in Boston at 75". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. December 11, 1942. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Selekman, Benjamin M. (September 30, 1943 – September 17, 1944). "Louis Edward Kirstein: 1867–1942". The American Jewish Year Book. 45: 35–46. JSTOR 23602855.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Louis Edward Kirstein". Bulletin of the Business Historical Society. 17 (3): 57–62. June 1943. JSTOR 3110911.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Louis Kirstein, Boston Retail Merchant, Dies". The Chicago Tribune. December 11, 1942. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  6. ^ "Jay W. Lorsch: Louis E. Kirstein Professor of Human Relations". Harvard Business School. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  7. ^ "Louis E. Kirstein Collection". Women, Enterprise & Society. Harvard Business School. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  8. ^ Salem's Jewish History, JewishJournal.org. August 29, 2019. Accessed March 20, 2024.