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John J. Raskob photographs

circa 1900-1945 Majority of material found within 1916-1920
 Collection
Accession: 1984-248

Abstract

John Raskob (1879-1950) was a financial executive for the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and General Motors, and builder of the Empire State Building. The collection primarily consists of construction progress photographs of the Durant Building in Detroit, Michighan in 1919 and 1920. There is a small set of images of a renovation at Raskob's Archmere estate in 1916, and a few portraits and snapshots of Raskob.

Dates

  • circa 1900-1945
  • Majority of material found within 1916-1920

Creator

Extent

2 Linear Feet

Physical Description

34 photographic prints : 11 x 14 in. or smaller. 1 photographic print : b&w ; 8 x 17 in. 566 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. 1 negative : b&w ; 4 x 5 in. 17 glass negatives : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. 1 painting : watercolor ; 48 x 66 cm. 1 item. 3 phonograph records. 1 sound cassette : analog.

Biographical Note

John Raskob (1879-1950) was a financial executive for the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and General Motors, and financier of the Empire State Building. Raskob was born in Lockport, New York, on March 19, 1879 to Anna Frances (Moran) Raskob (1851-1926) and John Raskob (1850-1898). He was educated in the area's public schools.

After holding a number of positions as a stenographer and secretary, he went to work for The Johnson Company of Lorain, Ohio, in August 1900. The Johnson Company had been recently purchased by Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954). Two years later he became Pierre S. du Pont's private secretary, and when du Pont became treasurer of the DuPont Company on March 4, 1904, Raskob became his special assistant. In August 1911, Raskob became the assistant treasurer of the DuPont Company.

During the 1910s Raskob played an increasingly active role in the DuPont Company's major subsidiaries. In 1913, he became director of DuPont Fabrikoid Company. The next year he was named treasurer of the E.I. du Pont de Nemours Powder Company. In 1915, he became secretary and treasurer of the Christiana Securities Company. Later that year he became a director, treasurer, and member of the Finance and Executive Committee of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

When Pierre du Pont began to acquire control over the General Motors Corporation, Raskob also became a director of G.M. Raskob was a director of the General Motors Acceptance Corp. from 1919 to 1929 and vice president for finance of the DuPont Company from 1918 to 1946.

During the 1920s Raskob became active in Democratic Party politics and from 1928 to 1932 served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He was an important financial backer of Governor Alfred E. Smith (1873-1944) when he ran for president in 1928. After the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) in 1932 Raskob became a prominent opponent of the New Deal and two years later was a founding member of the American Liberty League. In 1930 he became vice president of Empire State, Inc., which operated the Empire State Building. During the post-war years he was active in Catholic charities. In 1945 he formed the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities in Delaware. John J. Raskob died on October 15, 1950.

Scope and Content

The collection primarily consists of construction progress photographs of the Durant Building in Detroit, Michigan in 1919 and 1920. There is a small set of images of a renovation at Raskob's Archmere estate in 1916, and a few portraits and snapshots of Raskob.

The collection has been arranged into four series: Durant Building construction photographs; Archmere renovations images; Portraits and snapshots; and Audio.

The Durant Building construction photographs series is a group of over 500 photographs by the Manning Bros, commercial photographers, which documents the construction of the Durant Building (later the General Motors Building) in Detroit, Michigan, from 1919 to 1920. The building, designed by Albert Kahn (1869-1942) and completed in 1923, was the largest office building in the world when built. Originally named for William C. Durant (1861-1947), the structure was renamed the General Motors Building following Durant's ouster in 1921. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978, the building became the property of the State of Michigan and was renamed Cadillac Place in 2002.

The Archmere renovations series is a set of glass plate negatives and prints which document building improvements at Archmere, Raskob's home in Claymont, Delaware, on the Delaware River, in 1916. This group also includes several interior and exterior views of Woodsedge, the estate that occupied the site before Archmere was built.

The Portraits and snapshots series consists of portraits and other photographs of John J. Raskob. These include several photographs of Raskob with Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York whose Presidential campaign he heavily supported and views of Raskob voting in the 1928 Presidential election. There are also unidentified family photographs; a group portrait of Catholic clergy members at Archmere; and a watercolor sketch of the Raskob tomb (1926) by the Harrison Granite Company. In addition, there are three photographs of a General Airplanes Corporation Aristocrat monoplane owned by Aero Supply Manufacturing Company in which Raskob held a financial interest. The images show the monoplane outfitted as a flying salesman's sample case: displays of the company's aircraft hardware were attached to fuselage panels. A press release dated October 14, 1929 is included.

The Audio series contains one cassette tape consisting of three advertisements and three phonograph records of brief news stories.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Litigators may not view the collection without approval.

Use Restrictions

Literary rights retained by depositor.

Related Material

Oral history interviews with John J. Raskob family (Accession 2004.208), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

On Deposit.

Separated Material

John J. Raskob papers (Accession 0473), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
John J. Raskob photographs
Status:
Author:
Laurie Sather
Date:
2016
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400