(1913 - 1991)
Sylvia Porter was one of the most successful financial columnists and writers in America. At the height of her
career, she had over 40 million people reading her syndicated financial column.
Porter was born in Patchogue, Long Island, New
York, on June 18, 1913, to Rose and Louis Feldman. Her parents were
Russian-Jewish immigrants and her father became a successful physician.
Her father died of a heart attack in 1925 which caused many changes
in the family. Her mother changed their name to Field and built up a
successful millinery business. Porter was in her freshman year in
college when the stock market crashed in 1929. The shock of her mother
and other people losing large sums of money raised many questions for
her. She switched her major to economics so that she could understand
how this all happened.
She applied for and won every cash prize that was available for
economic students. She earned her Phi Beta Kappa Key in her junior
year and she graduated CUM LAUDE with a B.A. Degree in 1932. A
year before she graduated, she married Reed R. Porter, a bank employee who encouraged her with her work.
After college, she worked for a number of investment counseling
firms and she soon became an expert in government securities. She
began to write a column for the American Banker. In 1935, she went to
work for the New York Post to cover Wall Street. Three years later,
she became their financial editor.
During the years, her column carried the byline of S.F. Porter. She
wrote her financial column in a language that was understood by her
readers. Her popularity rose and she didn't shirk at exposing corruption or unethical behavior in the financial community.
She attacked Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. for
his handling of the bond market and she attacked U.S. Senator Edwin
Johnson, of Colorado, for his silver policy. It wasn't until 1942 that
the readers discovered that S.F. Porter was a woman. The New York
Post felt that the readers would accept a woman with Porter's reputation and expertise as a financial advisor and writer. Her column was
syndicated throughout the country and she was in great demand for
speaking engagements. In 1978, she left the Post to go to the New
York Daily News where she wrote five columns a week.
Porter wrote a number of books which included: How to Make
Money in Government Bonds, 1939; If War Comes to the American
Home, 1941; and working together with tax expert Jacob Kay Lassser,
they wrote How to Live Within Your Income, 1948; Money and You,
1949; and Managing Your Money, 1953. She also wrote Sylvia Porter's Income Tax Guide, 1960, which became an annual guide; How to Get More for Your Money, 1961; and in 1975, Sylvia Porter's Money Book: How to Earn It, Spend It, Save It, Invest It, Borrow It and Use It to Better Your Life.
Sylvia Porter has received many tributes from civic and business
organizations, which included fourteen honorary doctoral degrees. She
was the leading force that made it possible for women to enter the field
of business and financial journalism. Her expertise combined with her
ability to make business and financial language understandable for all
people established her as an authority in a field dominated by men.
Sources: This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism
included in Jewish Heroes & Heroines of America: 150 True Stories of American Jewish Heroism, © 1996,
written by Seymour Sy Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated
by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime
Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.