One hundred and twenty two years ago, on the site of 17 Lexington Avenue, Bernard M. Baruch walked the halls of the then College of the City of New York. Just one in a crowd of three hundred entering students, none could have guessed that his alma mater would eventually bear the name of this distinguished alumnus.

   The public life of Bernard M. Baruch is well-known, but a glimpse of the private life of the man and his family can be revealed through photographs that are part of the Baruch College Archives.

   Bernard Mannes Baruch, son of a German immigrant and an impoverished southern belle was the second of four children born in Camden, South Carolina in 1870. Moving to New York City at the age of ten, he struggled to adjust to his new surroundings. At the age of fourteen, he began his studies at the College of the City of New York, located on Lexington and 23rd street (in those times there were no public high schools and a student could go directly to college if he met the entrance requirements). To save money he would walk the roughly forty blocks every day from his home on 60th street, saving a dime weekly; his entire allowance being only a quarter a week. His college days were a time of intellectual enlightenment as his knowledge of the world grew and he completed his growth spurt, transforming from a rather frail boy into a six foot three man of athletic build. After graduation, Baruch became a runner on Wall Street, trying to learn as much as he could about business and becoming a partner at the age of twenty five at A.A. Housman & Company.

  As the twentieth century progressed, Baruch’s fortune increased, and he began to want something more out of life.  His father’s words always made Bernard reflect on the direction his life was taking.

I could not forget my father’s look the day I proudly informed him I was worth a million dollars. The kindly, quizzical expression told me, more clearly than words, that in his opinion, money making was a secondary matter… Of what use to a man are millions of dollars unless he does something worth while with them (My Own Story, 177-178).

Bernard was often envious of his brother Herman, who followed in their father’s footsteps and was now a doctor, working toward the greater good. From this point on Baruch became interested in the public sphere.

My first real introduction to civic affairs came in 1910, when Mayor Gaynor offered me a trusteeship at my alma mater, the College of the City of New York. I took this civic task seriously, for I felt a very deep sense of gratitude to the College for the educational opportunities it had given me…  To this day I retain a deep interest in City College and am a firm supporter of the tradition of free higher education. Municipal colleges have educated thousands of men and women who, for financial reasons, would have been denied the chance for college training.
   My acceptance of the College trusteeship was, as it turned out, the first link in a chain of circumstances that led me to more important tasks. It brought me into touch with William McCombs, a fellow trustee. And it was McCombs who led me eventually to Woodrow Wilson (The Public Years, 4-5).

This acquaintance would soon propel Baruch into national and then the International spotlight.

   When World War I began, Baruch was among the first to champion preparedness in the event of America’s entry into the war. Although his warnings went unheeded, he continued to agitate for it up until the United States’ entry in 1917, when he was appointed to the War Industries Board, eventually becoming the head of that organization. His mobilization of the resources of the country were immensely successful and he resigned at the end of 1918 to follow President Wilson to Europe for the peace conference.

   Baruch returned to America a changed man. While much of the country was regretting the involvement of the United States in the war and slipping back into isolationism, it was a turning point for Bernard. He decided not to return to his financial career fulltime and try to concentrate on public affairs as much as possible. As he himself admitted, public service was much more satisfying than making money.

At the age of forty-nine, I had already enjoyed two careers – in finance and, much more briefly, in government. The war had taken me out of Wall Street, often described as a narrow alley with a graveyard at one end and a river on the other, and plunged me deeply into the broad stream of national and international affairs (The Public Years, 149).

     As the euphoric 1920’s were winding down, Baruch became increasingly concerned with the wild speculation going on in America. He was one of the few who withdrew, saving themselves from ruin when the stock marked crashed in 1929.

    With the deep depression griping the country, Baruch tried to remain optimistic.

Even in the darkest day of the depression, however, I never lost sight of the fundamental strength and wealth of America. …  I was sure that, with proper encouragement and help, we could recoup the grievous losses of the depression if the people’s belief in themselves and their country could be restored (The Public Years, 230).

    At this time, Hitler’s rise in Germany worried Baruch immensely and he continually advocated for preparedness. Baruch’s continual demands for preparedness went mostly unheeded until the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.

Now I was to be involved almost full time in the war effort. I had no office, no title, but functioned, in effect, as an unofficial free-lance, helping wherever I could, taking emergency assignments from the President and his assistants in the production and procurement programs (The Public Years, 294).

During the entire war, Baruch would involve himself in whatever sector his help was needed. After the war, Baruch was appointed to serve as an American representative to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission but his plan was rejected by the Soviet Union.

As the Soviets thwarted an atomic agreement, lowered their Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe, and broke one promise after another in those early postwar years, it became clear that they were waging war against us. It was a new kind of war, to be sure, in which guns were silent; but our survival was at stake nonetheless. It was a situation that soon came to be known as the “cold war,” a phrase I introduced in a speech before the South Carolina legislature in April, 1947 (The Public Years, 388).

    For the remainder of his life, Baruch remained a prominent advisor and a major participant in civil service. In 1953 to honor this illustrious alumnus, City College’s School of Business Administration on Lexington and 23rd street was renamed in his honor.

   Utilizing materials from the Baruch College Archives, this exhibit will show the private and public life of Barnard Baruch and his immediate family.

Baruch’s Parents and Siblings

Simon Baruch
[ca. 1890-1921]
Simon Baruch with Child
  [ca. 1890-1921]

    Simon Baruch, Bernard’s father, was born in Germany near Posen, then part of Prussia, in 1840 and came to the United States at fifteen to avoid conscription in the Prussian army. He became a doctor and took part in the Civil War as a surgeon on the Confederate side. According to Baruch:

Father was a man worth looking at – six feet tall, erect and military, with a dark beard and mild, unwavering blue eyes. His dress was rather formal. Never do I recall seeing him in his shirt sleeves. Yet he had a kindly manner, and a soft voice which had no trace of accent to suggest his foreign birth (My Own Story, 2-3).

He became a pioneer in hydrotherapy, establishing the first public baths in New York City. He was also among the first doctors to successfully diagnose and perform appendectomies.

Belle Wolfe [ca.1910-1921]

    Belle Wolf came from a wealthy old South Carolina family which had suffered ruin following the Civil War. She became acquainted with Simon Baruch during the war when he was a frequent guest at her home when on furlough. In 1867 when Simon established himself as a country doctor in Camden, they were married. They had to struggle at first with his medical practice. Belle taught piano and singing lessons at 25 cents a lesson as well as sold milk and butter. Nevertheless she never neglected her duty of raising her children as Baruch relates:

Each morning my three brothers and I would present ourselves before her for inspection ‘Let me see your fingers. Let me see your ears, Did you clean your teeth?’ Frequently these examinations meant another trip to the wash basin (My Own Story, 23).   


Hartwig Baruch [ca. 1896-1910]

    Hartwig (“Harty”) Baruch, the eldest of the Baruch children and Bernard’s closest companion was born in 1868. They were inseparable and shared a room at 144 West 57th street with the rest of their family occupying the second room.

I don’t know if I could have stood those first days in New York if it had not been for the stalwart example set by Harty. Nothing ever daunted Harty and he waded into the big, tough city as if it were just another big, tough boy who was trying to pick a fight with him (My Own Story, 42).

Harty aspired to become an actor. Bernard was so convinced that Harty would be successful that he sponsored the first play staring his brother in Centerville, New Jersey. The play was a complete flop and before it was over, the whole cast decided to make a run for it.  

Like the Duke in “Huckleberry Finn,” I went backstage and told the troupe that fortunately I had bought round-trip tickets and it was only a short walk through a dark street to the depot. I think we were at the railroad station before the audience realized there would be no third act. A train had just pulled in. We climbed aboard without even noticing which way it was going. Luckily it was headed for New York (My Own Story, pg. 70).

Regardless of this less than ideal start, Harty became a Broadway actor but consented to follow his brother into Wall Street when Bernard bought a seat on the stock exchange for $19,000, and immediately offered it to Harty to make him settle down.   

Herman Baruch
[ca. 1930-1953]

    Herman Baruch, the third Baruch brother was born in 1872 and was the only sibling of Bernard’s who did not directly follow him to Wall Street and the only one, other than Bernard, to achieve a college education. Graduating from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, he worked as a doctor for a number of years. In large part based on the fame and influence of his famous brother, Herman embarked on a career as an ambassador, serving in Portugal and then Holland.

Sailing Baruch
[ca. 1894-1910] 
Sailing Baruch
[ca. 1894-1910]

    Sailing Baruch, the baby of the family, was born in 1874 and briefly attended a military academy before being expelled. He had many jobs before following Bernard to Wall Street.

Young Baruch

Young Baruch
[ca. 1884-1890]

    Baruch entered the College of the City of New York at 14 years of age.

Entrance requirements were high; standards were strict, with examinations held twice a term; and those who could not keep up were dropped. I entered the class of about three hundred, of whom fifty were graduated, although many of those dropping out were economic rather than academic casualties (My Own Story, 54).


Bernard M. Baruch

Already athletic in College, Baruch continued to practice boxing at a gym on 28th between Madison and Fifth Avenue.

When I was about twenty-two I posed for a photograph showing me with a mustache and curly black, almost kinky hair, and with muscular arms folded across a bare chest. That photograph still stands on my living room table, and when I look at it I am reminded of how I had changed from the fat little boy who first came to New York (My Own Story, pg. 66).

Baruch’s Wife and Children

Annie Griffen 1892 
Annie Griffen
[ca. 1890-1910]
Annie Griffen  1925


One day while walking near the Griffen home I saw Miss Griffen approaching. Mustering all my courage, I reached the stoop of her house just as she did. Raising my hat, I asked if I were addressing Miss Annie Griffen. ‘No, indeed!’ she retorted with a toss of her head and walked up the steps (My Own Story, 99).

Eventually Baruch managed to have himself introduced and became a regular caller at Annie’s house. Annie was Episcopalian and Bernard was Jewish. Annie's father never gave his consent and did not attend their wedding, however eventually he was forced to admit that he had been wrong. Bernard and Annie latter agreed that they would raise their two daughters Episcopalian and let their son decide for himself. 

Belle Baruch 
[ca. 1902-1906]
Belle Baruch
[ca. 1908-1913]
Belle Baruch 1919

    Belle Baruch, the first child of Bernard, named after his mother was born in 1899. Upon her birth, the happy father wrote the following poem dedicated to his daughter:

Oh Isabel, Oh Isabel,
The day you were first visible,
Paternal pride and future hope
We centered all in thee.

Oh Isabel, Oh Isabel
We’re one and indivisible.
We constitute a family now,
Where there was two, there’s three
(Baroness of Hobcaw, 4-5).

Belle grew up to be an independent woman, traveling a great deal. She never married.

Bernard Baruch Jr.  1908 
Bernard Baruch Jr. 
[ca. 1907-1910]
Bernard Baruch Jr. 
[ca. 1919-1940]

    Bernard Baruch Jr., Baruch’s only son, was born 1903. He was married a number of times but preferred to lead a more obscure life than his father, consequently not much more is known about his life.   

 Renee Baruch
[ca. 1906-1910] 
Renee Baruch
[ca. 1910-1916] 
Renee Baruch

    Renee Baruch, the youngest of the Baruch children, was born in 1905. She married but had no children.

Scenes of a Young and Happy Family

 Bernard and Belle Baruch
With friends
[ca. 1895-1915] 

 Bernard and Belle Baruch
Bernard and Belle Baruch
[ca. 1895-1915] 


Bernard and Renne Baruch  
Baruch with his brother [Sailing  or Hardwig], Baruch Jr. and a girl
  [ca. 1906-1915]
Bernard with Baruch Jr
[ca. 1915-1930]


Baruch (in white suit on the left) dancing with two friends  [ca. 1895-1910]
Baruch posing for a photograph
[ca. 1895-1910]  
Baruch on the Beach    1906


Baruch in a hammock   
[ca. 1895-1910] 
Baruch posing for the camera
[ca. 1895-1910]

Relaxing in Atlantic City

    At the turn of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, Atlantic City was the premiere destinations for relaxing along the Atlantic coast. The Baruch family often took advantage of the seaside activities for short getaways.

Bernard Baruch  
Bernard Baruch with friend   
Bernard Baruch with wife (extreme  right and friends
[ca. 1900-1910]


Baruch with Baruch Jr.
[ca. 1906-1910]


House at Hobcaw
 [after 1905]   
"The Baron Reserves Certain Privileges"
[after 1905] 
Windmill at Hobcaw
[after 1905]

    In 1905 Baruch bought a large tract of land called the Hobcaw Barony in South Carolina; "a veritable Shangri-La in my native South Carolina". Baruch considered it of great importance to have a place where he could go to reflect and Hobcaw was like "having an oasis of serenity in which one could take refuge was as valuable as in my Wall Street days". After spending time in Hobcaw, he would come back recharged and ready to tackle any problem that might present itself. In fact, Hobcaw became a popular place for politicians and other well known people to come and spend time there, Jack London and Winston Churchill among them.

 FDR visited Hobcaw in April 1944 for an intended two week visit but ended up staying a month.

He had come to Hobcaw tired and with a cough. He left tanned and in better health, as Admiral Ross McIntire, his physician, told me, than in many a year (My Own Story, 272).

Hunting in Hobcaw 

Baruch after a hunt
[ca. 1905-1920] 
Baruch after a hunt
[ca. 1905-1920]


To the eastward, as the sun rose, one could see tens of thousands of ducks. At times they appeared like bees pouring out of a huge bottle. Their numbers were so great that you had to blink your eyes to be sure that you were not suffering from some illusion. As the sun mounted above the horizon, flock after flock would break away from the swamps and the rice fields and come down to the marshes, flying in V formation (My Own Story, 282-283).


Possibly the greatest pastime in Hobcaw was duck hunting. Baruch considered that there was no better place to hunt ducks than on that property.

Other Recreational Activities

Baruch fishing [ca.1895-1920] 
Baruch posing with the catch [ca. 1895-1920]   
Baruch posing with the catch  [ca. 1895-1920]


Baruch horse riding [ca. 1900-1930]

World War I

                       Baruch with Louis Loucheur, Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George
    During World War I Bernard Baruch had the job of finding the best way to supply the war effort as efficiently as possible, making sure that the necessary raw materials would go where they would do the most good. His knowledge of supply and demand, as well as his personal acquaintance with many of the leaders of industry were invaluable in helping to mobilize the United States and turn the tide of war in 1918. At the conclusion of the war, at the invitation of President Wilson, Baruch came to the Paris Peace Conference to try and negotiate a deal with the allies on the future fate of Germany. The leniency advocated by the Wilsonian delegation was vehemently opposed by the European nations that had suffered from the prolonged war and Baruch returned with many unaccomplished goals.   

    It was at the conference that Baruch and Winston Churchill met face to face. Towards the later part of the war Churchill had been Minister of Munitions and together with Baruch helped to coordinate the distribution of war materials.

As my opposite number, as it were, in World War One, Churchill and I were in frequent cable communication. Those messages laid the groundwork for our subsequent close friendship (The Public Years, 71).

 World War II

Baruch chatting with a couple of soldiers
[ca. 1942-1946] 
Baruch conversing with a soldier  
[ca. 1942-1946] 
Baruch talking with a soldier
[ca. 1942-1946]


Baruch riding a jeep  
[ca. 1942-1946]     
Baruch conversing with a soldier in liberated Europe   [ca. 1945-1946]
Baruch in liberated Europe
  [ca. 1945-1946]


Baruch posing in front of a plane
[ca. 1942-1946]

    Baruch came back from Paris a changed man. The end of World War I had created a backlash in the United States and the country slid back toward isolation.

I came out of the war, as I have said, with some definite ideas. Inevitably the strong views I entertained, about the League of Nations, about the agricultural situation, and about other public questions which agitated America, led me to take an active part in politics – the forum in which great issues are debated and resolved (The Public Years, 171).

Baruch remained a constant advocate of preparedness leading up to World War II. When the war inevitably came, he did not accept an official position in the Roosevelt government but would go wherever he was needed and troubleshoot the situation.

United Nations Atomic Energy Commission

Baruch at the United Nations

    Following the end of World War II, America emerged as the only nation that had harnessed the power of an atom. The new source of power could be used for a constructive as well as destructive purpose. To figure out a plan of what course to follow the United Nations created the Atomic Energy Commission. President Truman appointed Baruch as the representative from the United States

In the atom we have the power for tremendous good as well as evil. The uses of nuclear energy – in science, medicine, industry, agriculture, transportation – are limitless. If we could but devote the atom to peace, we would have a tremendous weapon to use in the only war worth fighting – the war against hunger, poverty, and disease (The Public Years, 381-382).

The plan formulated by Baruch was for the United States to destroy all of its atomic weapons on the condition that it would only be used for peaceful purposes by other nations with specific safeguards imposed to prevent others from developing weapons. Due to the resistance of the Soviet Union, the Baruch Plan was never adapted.  

Friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt

Baruch and Eleanor Roosevelt
[ca. 1943 - 1962]


…Mrs. Roosevelt is as great and gallant a person as I have ever known. No good cause has ever been too modest, and no decent person too humble, for her to help. She has an admirable sense of humor, with the blessed ability to laugh at herself. Warmhearted as she is, however, she is tough-minded (The Public Years, 254).

   The Legend of the Park-Bench Philosopher

Baruch on the Bench
[ca. 1940-1965]

One day Conant, Compton, and I went out to Lafayette Park, and sat down on the grass to confer. A reporter came along, recognized us, and wanted to know what was going on. ‘Were just having a meeting of the Rubber Committee,’ I said. He hurried away and soon came back with a photographer. The pictures in the papers the next day added to the legends about me and park benches, even though the committee was actually sitting on the ground (The Public Years, 305).

Baruch Towards the Later Part of His Life

Baruch visiting students at his College 1958
Baruch visiting students at his College 1958 
Baruch with future businessmen
[ca. 1950-1965]

Baruch Over the Years

[ca. 1955-1965]


   America was an adolescent, unfinished country when I was born. The first transcontinental railroad had been completed less than two years before my birth, and the passing of the American frontier did not occur until almost ten years after. As a child, I listened to my great-grandmother tell stories of the American Revolution – stories which she had heard from mother who lived through it – and of the War of 1812, which was part of her own girlhood memories. Through the eyes of these relatives and my own life, I have enjoyed a virtual eyewitness account of our country’s development since Independence.
   Comparing the world in which I live now with the one into which I was born, I might just as well have been born one hundred and ninety, instead of ninety, years ago. Scarcely anything we now consider indispensable to normal living existed in the land of my birth. It was a world without automobiles or airplanes; without radio, television, or movies; without miracle drugs, electric home appliances, fountain pens, or frozen foods. The rate of our progress – of material progress – staggers the imagination. It took men thousands of years to find a substitute for the oxcart, but in the fifty years they have learned how to fly above the earth and to explore the very precincts of the moon. Every day we learn of some fantastic new development in medicine, transportation, communication.
    Still, I have noticed that some people – young people in particular – take the wonders of this age pretty much for granted. I suppose that this is so because it is hard to sustain a sense of fantasy in the face of many marvels which science and technology pour out week after week. But when one can look back as far as I can, and remember that the working of a kitchen tap once filled him with wonder, he can truly appreciate the fantastic changes which have taken place and gain the true perspective of age.
    I have had a long, long life – a full one and a good one. Sometimes I stop whatever I am doing to wonder at the good fortune I have had in this lengthy pilgrimage. I have had a loving family, many devoted and loyal friends, good health (and what a blessing to have it still), all the material comforts a man could want (and these are by no means unimportant). But above all, I have had the opportunity to serve my country. This has meant most to me.
   America has always been considered the Land of Opportunity. It has given its citizens advantages and liberties which no other people can claim. I cannot say that I have discharged the debt I owe this country for what it has given me, but in good conscience I can say I have tried (The Public Years, 415-414).


Baruch, Bernard M., My Own Story.
New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1957.

Baruch, Bernard M., Baruch: The Public Years.
New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960.  

Miller, Marry E., Baroness of Hobcaw: The Life of Belle W. Baruch.
South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 2006.

Schwarz, Jordan A., The Speculator: Bernard Baruch in Washington, 1917-1965.
Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1981.