Samuel Simeon Fels

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Samuel Simeon Fels
Fels Institute of Government
BornFebruary 16, 1860
DiedJune 23, 1950 (age 90)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OccupationSoap manufacturer
SpouseJennie May
FamilyJoseph Fels (brother)

Samuel Simeon Fels (February 16, 1860 in Yanceyville, North Carolina – June 23, 1950 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was an American businessman and philanthropist.


Born to a Jewish family in Yanceyville, North Carolina, Fels family relocated to Philadelphia, where Samuel's older brother Joseph Fels founded a soap manufacturing company, Fels & Co., which found success with the product Fels-Naptha. Samuel became the company's first president, a post he held until his death at age 90.

Fels was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1939.[1]


An active philanthropist, in 1936, Fels established the Samuel S. Fels Fund, which provides support to Philadelphia-area non-profit organizations. Fels also founded the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government.

Fels is known for commissioning Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto Op. 14 in 1939.

In 1912, Henry H. Goddard dedicated his book on eugenics The Kallikak Family to Fels: "who made this study and who has followed the work from its incipiency with kindly criticism and advice".[2]


  1. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2023-05-10.
  2. ^ Goddard, Henry Herbert (1912). "The Kallikak family : a study in the heredity of feeble-mindedness". Wellcome Collection. Retrieved 6 December 2021.

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