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George Eastman

George Eastman
Born (1854-07-12)July 12, 1854
Waterville, New York, U.S.
Died March 14, 1932(1932-03-14) (aged 77)
Rochester, New York, U.S.
Resting place
Ashes buried at Eastman Business Park (Kodak Park)
Nationality American
Occupation Businessman, inventor, philanthropist
Known for Photography pioneer, Founder of Eastman Kodak
Net worth USD $95 million at the time of his death (approximately 1/611th of US GNP)[1]
Parents George Washington Eastman (1815–1862) and Maria Kilbourn (1821–1907)

George Eastman (July 12, 1854 – March 14, 1932) was an American innovator and entrepreneur who founded the Georges Méliès.

He was a major philanthropist, establishing the Eastman School of Music, and schools of dentistry and medicine at the University of Rochester and in London; contributing to RIT and the construction of MIT's second campus on the Charles River; and donating to Tuskegee and Hampton universities. In addition, he provided funds for clinics in London and other European cities to serve low-income residents.

In his final two years, Eastman was in intense pain caused by a disorder affecting his spine. On March 14, 1932, Eastman shot himself in the heart, leaving a note which read, "To my friends: my work is done. Why wait?"[2]

The International Museum of Photography and Film, has been designated a National Historic Landmark.


  • Early life 1
  • Personal life 2
  • Later years 3
  • Infirmity and suicide 4
  • Legacy 5
  • Patents 6
  • Honors and commemorations 7
  • Other 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

Early life

U.S. patent no. 388,850, issued to George Eastman, September 4, 1888

Eastman was born in

Business positions
New office Treasurer of Eastman Kodak
Succeeded by
Title last held by
Henry A. Strong
President of Eastman Kodak
1921 – April 7, 1925
Succeeded by
William G. Stuber
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Raymond Poincaré
Cover of Time Magazine
March 31, 1924
Succeeded by
George V

  • George Eastman archive at the University of Rochester
  • George Eastman at Find a Grave
  • George Eastman: His Life, Legacy, and Estate, George Eastman House
  • The George Eastman House
  • UCL Eastman Dental Institute, London, UK
  • Eastman Institute for Oral Health, University of Rochester, NY
  • George Eastman: The Final Shot, by David Lindsay

External links

  • Ackerman, Carl W. (1930). George Eastman: Founder of Kodak and the Photography Business. Beard Books.  

Further reading

  1. ^ Klepper, Michael; Gunther, Michael (1996). The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates—A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present.  
  2. ^ a b Lindsay, David "George Eastman: The Final Shot". American Experience. PBS. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  3. ^ McNellis, David (201). Reflections on Big Spring: A History of Pittsford, NY, and the Genesee River Valley. AuthorHouse. p. 147. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Brayer, Elizabeth (1996). George Eastman: A Biography. Johns Hopkins University Press.   (University of Rochester Press, 2006 reprint: ISBN 1-580-46247-2. pp.12-19)
  5. ^ a b c "Maria Eastman article". PBS. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  6. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Ford, Carin T. (2004). George Eastman: The Kodak Camera Man. Enslow Publishers, INC. 
  8. ^ "MIT Facts: The Campus". MIT. 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  9. ^ "George Eastman article". PBS. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  10. ^ Spiro, Jonathan (December 15, 2009). Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant.  
  11. ^ Nick Black, Walking London's medical history 
  12. ^ Brayer, Elizabeth (2006). George Eastman, A Biography. University Rochester Press. p. 429.  
  13. ^ The Philanthropy Roundtable Hall of Fame, George Eastman
  14. ^ Ford, Carin T. (2004). George Eastman: The Kodak Camera Man. Enslow Publishers, Inc. 
  15. ^ "About CGR". Center for Governmental Research Inc. (CGR). Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  16. ^ Eastman Institute for Oral Health
  17. ^ History of the Eastman Dental Institute
  18. ^ Eastman's European Dental Clinics
  19. ^ "George Eastman Issue". Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  20. ^ "When I Was A Pup". Archived from the original on 22 October 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 


See also

[20] It is an often-repeated urban myth that photographer and musician Linda Eastman, (later the wife of


In the fall of 2009, a statue of Eastman was erected on the Eastman Quad of the University of Rochester.

George Eastman
commemorative issue, 1954
A First Day Cover Honoring George Eastman 1954.

[19] On July 12, 1954 the U.S. Post Office issued a 3-cent

Honors and commemorations

  • U.S. Patent 226,503 "Method and Apparatus for Coating Plates", filed September 1879, issued April 1880.
  • U.S. Patent 306,470 "Photographic Film", filed May 10, 1884, issued October 14, 1884.
  • U.S. Patent 306,594 "Photographic Film", filed March 7, 1884, issued October 14, 1884.
  • U.S. Patent 317,049 (with William H. Walker) "Roll Holder for Photographic Films", filed August 1884, issued May 1885.
  • U.S. Patent 388,850 "Camera", filed March, 1888, issued September, 1888.
  • Eastman licensed, then purchased U.S. Patent 248,179 "Photographic Apparatus" (roll film holder), filed June 21, 1881, issued October 11, 1881 to David H. Houston.


In 1926, George Eastman was approached by Lord Riddell, the Chairman of Royal Free Hospital, to fund a dental clinic in London. He agreed to give £200,000, which was matched by £50,000 each from Lord Riddell and Sir Albert Levy, the Royal Free's honorary treasurer.[16] The Eastman Dental Clinic was opened on November 20, 1931, by the American Ambassador in the presence of Neville Chamberlain. The building, which resembled the Rochester Dispensary, was totally integrated into the Royal Free Hospital and included three wards for oral, otolaryngology and cleft lip and palate surgery. It was dedicated to providing dental care for children from the poor districts of central London.[17] In a similar manner, Eastman went on to establish dental clinics in Rome, Paris, Brussels, and Stockholm.[18]

Eastman had a very astute business sense. He focused his company on making film when competition heated up in the camera industry. By providing quality and affordable film to every camera manufacturer, Kodak managed to turn its competitors into de facto business partners.

In 1915, Eastman founded a bureau of municipal research in Rochester "to get things done for the community" and to serve as an "independent, non-partisan agency for keeping citizens informed." Called the Center for Governmental Research, the agency continues to carry out that mission.[15]

His former home at 900 East Avenue in Rochester, New York was opened as the National Historic Landmark.

During his lifetime Eastman donated $100 million to various organizations but most of the money went to the plaque of Eastman. (Students rub their noses on the plaque for good luck.) Eastman also made substantial gifts to the Tuskegee Institute and the Hampton Institute. Upon his death, his entire estate went to the University of Rochester, where his name can be found on the Eastman Quadrangle of the River Campus. The auditorium at Mississippi State Universities Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering is named for Eastman in recognition of his inspiration to Swalm.


His funeral was held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Rochester; he was buried on the grounds of the company he founded at Kodak Park in Rochester, New York.

In his final two years, Eastman was in intense pain caused by a disorder affecting his [2]

Memorial at Kodak Park in Rochester. Eastman's ashes lie beneath the Georgia marble monument.

Infirmity and suicide

George Eastman donated £200,000 in 1926 to fund a dental clinic in London, UK after being approached by the Chairman of the Royal Free Hospital, Lord Riddell. This was in addition to donations of £50,000 each from Lord Riddell and the Royal Free honorary treasurer. On 20 November 1931, the Eastman Dental Clinic opened in front of Neville Chamberlain and the American Ambassador. The clinic was incorporated into the Royal Free Hospital and was committed to providing dental care for disadvantaged children from central London.[11]

In 1925, Eastman gave up his daily management of Kodak to become treasurer. He concentrated on philanthropic activities, to which he had already donated substantial sums. For example, he donated funds to establish the Eastman Dental Dispensary in 1916. He was one of the major philanthropists of his time, ranking only slightly behind Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and a few others, but did not seek publicity for his activities. He concentrated on institution-building and causes that could help people's health. From 1926 until his death, Eastman donated $22,050 per year to the American Eugenics Society.[10]

He was one of the outstanding philanthropists of his time, donating more than $100 million to various projects in Rochester; Cambridge, Massachusetts; at two historically black colleges in the South; and in several European cities.[7] In 1918, he endowed the establishment of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, and in 1921 a school of medicine and dentistry there.

Eastman was associated with the Kodak company in an administrative and an executive capacity until his death; he contributed much to the development of its notable research facilities. In 1911, he founded the Eastman Trust and Savings Bank. While discouraging the formation of unions at his manufacturing plant, he established paternal systems of support for his employees.

George Eastman, 1917

Later years

His mother, Maria, was his main family for the majority of his life, and her death was particularly crushing to George. Almost pathologically concerned with decorum, he found himself unable for the first time to control his emotions in the presence of friends. "When my mother died I cried all day", he explained later. "I could not have stopped to save my life". Due to his mother's hesitancy and refusal to take his gifts, George Eastman could never do enough for his mother during her lifetime. Thus, after she was gone, George opened the Eastman Theater in Rochester on September 4, 1922, among its features was a chamber-music hall dedicated to her memory: the Kilbourn Theater. And long after that, a rose cutting from her childhood home still flowered on the grounds of the Eastman House.[5]

[9] George Eastman never married, although he carried on a long

Personal life

He started his philanthropy early, sharing the income from his business to establish educational and health institutions. Notable among his contributions were a $625,000 gift in 1901 (equivalent to $17.7 million in present day terms[6]) to the Mechanics Institute, now Rochester Institute of Technology; and a major gift in the early 1900s to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which enabled the construction of buildings on its second campus by the Charles River.[7] MIT opened this campus in 1916.[8]

In 1884, Eastman patented the first film in roll form to prove practicable; he had been tinkering at home to develop it. In 1888, he perfected the Kodak camera, the first camera designed specifically for roll film. In 1892, he established the Eastman Kodak Company, in Rochester, New York. It was one of the first firms to mass-produce standardized photography equipment. The company also manufactured the flexible transparent film, devised by Eastman in 1889, which proved vital to the subsequent development of the motion picture industry.

Maria's second daughter, Katie, had contracted polio when young and died in late 1870 when George was 16 years old. The young George left school early and started working. As George Eastman began to experience success with his photography business, he vowed to repay his mother for the hardships she had endured in raising him.[5]


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