|Place of origin||London, England|
|Founded||1624 (first child in England)|
1635 (first child in North America)
|Connected families||Paget family|
The Whitney family is an American family founded by John Whitney (1592–1673) who immigrated from London, England to Watertown, Massachusetts in 1635. The historic family mansion in Watertown, known as The Elms, was built for the Whitneys in 1710. Today, the Whitneys occupy a distinguished position in American society as a result of their entrepreneurship, wealth, and philanthropy. They are also members of the Episcopal Church.
Throughout the United States' existence, successive generations of the Whitney family have had a significant impact on its history. Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793 enabled slaves to pick cotton 50 times faster, a breakthrough which led the country to become home to 75% of the world's cotton supply.  This caused the demand for slaves to increase rapidly, “Slaves were a profitable investment before the cotton gin and an even more profitable investment after its invention” law professor Paul Finkleman argued in the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities.  Beginning in 1844, Asa Whitney launched a campaign for a railway linking the American West to the East Coast that ultimately resulted in the first American transcontinental railroad. Upon taking office as U.S. Secretary of the Navy in 1885, William Collins Whitney oversaw the fleet's widespread adoption of steel ships. During the 20th century, family members continued to exercise massive influence over the U.S. economy through nationwide conglomerates such as Pan Am, J.H. Whitney & Company and Freeport-McMoran.
Beginning with William Collins Whitney, members of the Whitney family would become major figures for more than a century in the breeding and racing of Thoroughbred horses.
Prominent descendants of John Whitney
- Amos Whitney (1832–1920)
- Anne Whitney (1821–1915)
- Antony Whitney
- Asa Whitney (1797–1872)
- Asa Whitney (canal commissioner) (1791–1874)
- Benson Whitney (born 1956)
- Charlotte Anita Whitney (1867–1955)
- Charles Andrew Whitney (1834–1912)
- Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney (1899–1992)
- Courtney Whitney (1897–1969)
- David Whitney Jr. (1830-1900)
- Dorothy Payne Whitney (1887–1968)
- Edward Baldwin Whitney (1857–1911)
- Eli Whitney (1765–1825)
- Eli Whitney Blake (1795–1886), inventor
- Eli Whitney Blake, Jr. (1836–1895), scientist
- Eli Whitney Debevoise II (born 1953)
- Flora Payne Whitney (1897–1986)
- Whitney Tower (1923–1999)
- Flora Miller Biddle (born 1928)
- Harry Payne Whitney (1872–1930)
- Hassler Whitney (1907–1989)
- Henry Melville Whitney (1839–1923)
- James Scollay Whitney (1811–1878)
- Joan Whitney Payson (1903–1975)
- John Hay Whitney (1905–1982)
- Josephine Whitney Duveneck (1891–1978)
- Josiah Dwight Whitney (1819–1896)
- Mary Watson Whitney (1847–1921)
- Newel Kimball Whitney (1795–1850)
- Orson F. Whitney (1855–1931)
- Parkhurst Whitney (1784–1862)
- Pauline Payne Whitney (1874–1916)
- Olive, Lady Baillie Olive Cecilia Paget, (1899–1974), Anglo-American heiress, landowner and hostess.
- Dorothy Wyndham Paget (1905–1960), British racehorse owner and sponsor of motor racing
- William Payne Whitney (1876–1927)
- Phyllis Ayame Whitney (1903–2008)
- Richard Whitney (1888–1974)
- Wheelock Whitney I (1894–1957)
- Wheelock Whitney, Jr. (1926–2016)
- Wheelock Whitney III (born 1949)
- William Collins Whitney (1841–1904)
- William Dwight Whitney (1827–1894)
- Willis Rodney Whitney (1868–1958)
- Mary Elizabeth Altemus (1906–1988)
- Charles T. Barney (1851–1907)
- Kathleen Blatz (born 1954)
- Betsey Cushing (1908–1998)
- Henry F. Dimock (1842–1911)
- Leonard Knight Elmhirst (1893–1974)
- Helen Julia Hay (1876–1944)
- Almeric Hugh Paget, 1st Baron Queenborough (1861–1949), British industrialist and politician
- Marie Louise Schroeder (1925–2019)
- Willard Dickerman Straight (1880–1918)
- Whitney Willard Straight (1912–1979)
- Beatrice Whitney Straight (1914–2001)
- Michael Whitney Straight (1916–2004)
- Adeline Dutton Train (1824–1906)
- Gertrude Vanderbilt (1875–1942)
- George W. Headley (1908–1985)
- Dorothy Laverne Whitney(1930-currently)
- Alfa Vanderbilt-Winther(1924-2008)
- Henry Lawrence Burnett
- Roscoe Channing
- Merian C. Cooper
- Herbert Croly
- William Lukens Elkins
- Catharine Littlefield Greene
- Daniel Guggenheim
- Daniel S. Lamont
- Oliver Hazard Payne
- Benjamin Franklin Pearson
- Francis A. Pratt
- Benno C. Schmidt Sr.
- David O. Selznick
- Kenneth A. Spencer
- Charles Shipman Payson
- Sherman Pratt
- Thomas Fortune Ryan
- W.E.D. Stokes
- Ilya Andreyevich Tolstoy
- Juan Trippe
- Clarissa Watson
- Peter A.B. Widener
- Langbourne Meade Williams Jr.
- Richard Thornton Wilson Jr.
- American Tobacco Company
- Art in America
- Burnett & Whitney
- Cataract House Hotel
- C.V. Whitney Farm
- Dominion Iron & Steel Company
- Dun & Bradstreet
- Foshalee Plantation
- Freeport Texas Company
- Great Northern Paper
- Greentree Stable
- Guggenheim Exploration Company
- Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting Company
- International Herald Tribune
- J.H. Whitney & Company
- Manhasset Stable
- Marineland of Florida
- Metropolitan Steamship Company
- Metropolitan Street Railway Company
- Minnesota North Stars
- Minnesota Vikings
- Minute Maid Company
- The New Republic
- New York Loan & Improvement Company
- New York Mets
- Pan Am
- Pratt & Whitney Measurement Systems
- Selznick International Pictures
- Spencer Chemical Company
- Standard Oil
- Technicolor Corporation
- West End Street Railway
- Westbury Stable
- Western Airways
- Whitney Armory
- Whitney Real Estate Corporation
Philanthropy & non-profit organizations
- Almeric Paget Massage Corps
- American Philological Association
- Association of Junior Leagues International
- Country Art Gallery & Art School
- Dartington College of Arts
- Dartington International Summer School
- Greentree Foundation
- Helen Hay Whitney Foundation
- Jockey Club (United States)
- John Hay Whitney Foundation
- Markey Cancer Center
- National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame
- National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
- The New School for Social Research
- North Shore University Hospital
- Payne Whitney Gymnasium
- Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic
- Saratoga Performing Arts Center
- Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience
- Whitney South Sea Expedition
- William C. Whitney Foundation
- Whitney Gallery of Western Art
- Whitney Museum of American Art
- Whitney Stakes (NYRA)
Buildings, estates & historic sites
- Belmont Park
- Breuer Building
- Brookdale Farm
- Cady Hill 
- Dartington Hall
- David Whitney House
- Eli Whitney Gun Factory
- The Elms 
- Greenwood Plantation
- Joye Cottage
- Llangollen Farm
- Payne Whitney House
- Saratoga Race Course
- Waters Farm
- Whitney Studio Gallery
- Whitney Park
- Willard Straight Hall
- ^ a b Cutter 1908, pp. 1400–1401.
- ^ W. Williams 2016, p. 176:The names of fashionable families who were already Episcopalian, like the Morgans, or those, like the Fricks, who now became so, goes on interminably: Aldrich, Astor, Biddle, Booth, Brown, Du Pont, Firestone, Ford, Gardner, Mellon, Morgan, Procter, the Vanderbilt, Whitney. Episcopalians branches of the Baptist Rockefellers and Jewish Guggenheims even appeared on these family trees.
- ^ "Eli". US National Archives. August 15, 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
- ^ "The cotton gin: A game-changing social and economic invention". National Constitution Centre. March 14, 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2023.
- ^ "Racing Proud of Whitney Heritage: Three Generations of Family Prominent on American Scene; Among Founders of Jockey Club, Campaigned Abroad; Owned Two Derby Winners". Daily Racing Form at University of Kentucky Archives. 1956-05-05. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
- ^ "Marylou Whitney Stables LLC". Equibase.com. 2019-02-21. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
- ^ a b Hendrick 1920, p. 138.
- ^ a b c Burnley 1901, p. 226.
- ^ a b Ingham 1983, pp. 1614–1615.
- ^ "WILLIAM C. WHITNEY PASSES AWAY" (PDF). New York Times. 1904-02-03. p. 2. Retrieved 2023-02-20.
- ^ Ingham 1983, pp. 1612–1614.
- ^ NYT 1904, p. 2.
- ^ Ingham 1983, p. 1614.
- ^ Harrison, Bruce. The Family Forest Descendants of Sir Robert Parke. p. 238. ISBN 9781411686304. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
- ^ "Birth of the Paper Giant | Great Northern Paper". Greatnorthernpaperhistory.com. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
- ^ "Mr. Barney's Career. Prominent All His Life in Finance, Art, and Realty Operations", The New York Times, November 15, 1907.
- ^ "Payne Whitney Left $178,893,655 Estate Record For America". New York Times. 1928-11-23. pp. 1 & 12. Retrieved 2023-02-19.
- ^ Ingham 1983, p. 1615.
- ^ "Glen Cove's multi-talented Clarissa Watson dies in France". Herald Community Newspapers. Retrieved 2022-08-26.
- ^ Chin, Jessica (2017-07-03). "Greentree Foundation maintains community roots with grants - The Island Now". The Island Now. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
- ^ "JOHN HAY WHITNEY DIES AT 77; PUBLISHER LED IN MANY FIELDS". The New York Times. 9 February 1982. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- ^ Nemy, Enid (2019-07-19). "Marylou Whitney, Social Queen of the Racing World, Dies at 93". New York Times. Retrieved 2023-02-19.
- ^ Dahler 2020, p. 110.
- ^ Gelder, Lawrence Van (January 10, 1997). "Marylou Whitney: Life at the Gallop". The New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
- ^ "The Whitney Museum of American Art". The Art Story.org. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
- Burnley, James (1901). Millionaires and Kings of Enterprise: The Marvellous Careers of Some Americans who by Pluck, Foresight, and Energy Have Made Themselves Masters in the Fields of Industry and Finance. Harmsworth Brothers, Limited.
- Cutter, William Richard (1908). Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Bostaon and Eastern Massachusetts. Boston, Massachusetts: Lewis Historical Publishing Company.
- Dahler, Don (2020). Fearless: Harriet Quimbly, A Life Without Limit. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 978-1-64896-131-1.
- Hendrick, Burton Jesse (1920). The Age of Big Business: A Chronicle of the Captains of Industry. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.
- Ingham, John N. (1983). Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders: V-Z. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-23910-X.
- W. Williams, Peter (2016). Religion, Art, and Money: Episcopalians and American Culture from the Civil War to the Great Depression. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9781469626987.
- Whitney Research Group – dedicated to the scholarly research of Whitney families around the world and throughout history.
- July 25, 2008 Bloodhorse.com article titled "The Whitney Handicap: a look at a treasured American family"