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Littauer, Lucius Nathan


LITTAUER, LUCIUS NATHAN (1859–1944), U.S. industrialist, congressman, and philanthropist. Littauer was born in Gloversville, New York, the son of an immigrant from Breslau, Prussia. Upon his graduation from Harvard College in 1878 Littauer entered his father's glove factory. He assumed directorship of the company in 1883, and under him it became the largest manufacturing enterprise of its kind in the country. An entrepreneur, he founded and participated in many other business enterprises, including public utilities, banking, textiles, and transportation.

Littauer became active in Republican politics and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1896 to 1907, representing predominantly non-Jewish upstate constituencies. An intimate friend and close political adviser of President Theodore Roosevelt, he was a leading member of the important House Appropriations Committee. From 1912 to 1914 he served as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of the City of New York. During the remainder of his life, Littauer devoted himself to the management of his widespread business interests, and, above all, to an increasing range of philanthropic activities. His initial gift in 1894 for the Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville was followed by many substantial contributions for the building and support of numerous institutions in the area, including the Jewish Community Center. A statue of him was erected in Gloversville in 1929.

His donations helped social welfare, health, recreation, education, and the financial support of needy students aspiring to higher education. He contributed extensively to medical care and research, aiding medical schools and hospitals in New York City, Albany, Paris, and Breslau, where he endowed the Nathan Littauer Stiftung at its Jewish Hospital. At the New York University College of Medicine he endowed a professorship of psychiatry; he also gave a building to the National Hospital for Speech Disorders. In 1937 he made a large gift to the New School of Social Research, New York, for the support of its newly established University in Exile, where many distinguished refugee Jewish intellectuals and scholars found a haven to continue their teaching and research. An abiding interest in public affairs motivated his largest single gift: the erection and endowment at Harvard of the Littauer Center of Public Administration, and the establishment of the Graduate School of Public Administration. The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, established in 1929, gives grants to a wide variety of causes, including the advancement of Jewish studies and Jewish learning.

Throughout his life, Littauer remained a faithful Jew in the Reform tradition. While in Congress, he advocated legislation to liberalize the immigration laws in order to help the victims of religious persecution in Eastern Europe. He firmly believed in the role of Jewish culture in U.S. intellectual life and supported the *Menorah Journal and the Menorah movement. In 1925 Littauer endowed the Nathan Littauer professorship of Hebrew literature and philosophy at Harvard – the first of its kind in the U.S. – later augmented by other gifts to Harvard for publications, fellowships, and the acquisition of collections of rare Hebraica and Judaica. He contributed to the Central Conference of American Rabbis for scholarly studies. In 1938 he founded the Institute of Social and Religious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. At New York University he initiated the endowment of a chair in Jewish and Hebrew studies. Littauer received a variety of awards and honors for his philanthropic and public activities.


L. Littauer, Louise Littauer, Her Book, ed. by L.N. Littauer (1924); The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, ed. by E.E. Morison, 2 (1951), 967; 7 (1954), 502; L. Einstein, RooseveltHis Mind in Action (1930); J.A. Blanchard (ed.), The H Book of Harvard Athletics… (1923).

[Harry Starr]

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