NAUMBURG, U.S. family of bankers and philanthropists. The founder, ELKAN NAUMBURG (1834–1924), was born in Germany, and went to the U.S. in 1850. He subsequently became a partner in the clothing firm of Naumburg, Kraus, Lauer & Company. After the firm was dissolved in 1893, Naumburg founded the banking house of E. Naumburg and Co., which specialized in advancing loans to business enterprises. A lover of music, he established and endowed the free summer concert programs at New York City's Central Park in 1905, and contributed the funds for the park's band shell. He also gave liberally to other philanthropies.
His eldest son WALTER WEHLE NAUMBURG (1867–1959), who was born in New York, entered his father's clothing business and then entered the newly established family banking business. He and his younger brother George Washington dissolved the firm in 1931 in order to devote themselves to charity. Besides continuing the Central Park concerts instituted by their father, Walter Naumburg founded the Walter W. Naumburg Musical Foundation (1926) which sponsored the debuts of talented musicians and the Musicians Foundation to care for needy musicians. He was a trustee of Mt. Sinai Hospital and a member of the Salvation Army's board.
His wife, ELSIE MARGARET BINGER NAUMBURG (1880–1953), was a well-known ornithologist who served on the staff of the American Museum of Natural History. Her monograph, The Birds of Matto Grosso, Brazil (1930), dealt with the ornithological finds of Theodore Roosevelt's expedition to Brazil. She established the Dr. Frank Chapman Memorial Fund to support ornithological research.
GEORGE WASHINGTON NAUMBURG
(1876–1970). George Washington Naumburg was born in New York City, and entered the family banking business after graduating from Harvard in 1898. During World War I, he served as assistant chief of the cotton section of the War Industries Board. In 1933, two years after his bank's dissolution, he was appointed president of the New York Guaranteed Protection Corporation. A vigorous advocate of government economy, Naumburg was treasurer of the National Economy League in the 1930s and a director and vice president of the Citizens Budget Commission. As a philanthropist, Naumburg's principal interest lay in the area of child welfare. He was active in the National Child Welfare Association, and supported psychiatric treatment programs for children. Also active in Jewish affairs, Naumburg was a director of the Joint Distribution Committee, head of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies finance committee, trustee of the Jewish Board of Guardians, and president of the Baron de Hirsch Fund (1932–70).
ROBERT ELKAN NAUMBURG
(1892–1953). Robert Elkan Naumburg was born in New York, and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A mechanical engineer and inventor, Naumburg constructed the visigraph, a machine allowing the blind to "read" electrically-embossed characters on paper. After World War II, Naumburg donated the invention to the federal government for use by sightless veterans.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.