George Eastman

September 2006
65 black and white illustrations
702 pages
9x6 in
University of Rochester Press
BISAC BIO003000, BUS023000, HIS036000

George Eastman

A Biography

Elizabeth Brayer


Hardback out of stock

Now back in print, this life of George Eastman is the first biography since 1930 of the man who transformed the world of photography. In this revealing and informative work, Brayer shows us how such key innovations as roll film and the light, hand-held camera helped the Eastman Kodak Company dominate the world market. More importantly, Brayer draws a vivid portrait of the man behind the money. Eastman worked hard at staying out of the limelight and even insisted that his donations be kept anonymous, prompting the Boston Globe to call him "America's most modest and least-known millionaire."

Despite his retirement in 1925, Eastman showed little sign of slowing down. Making money had been interesting, but putting money to work became more so. In the 1920s he designed a special camera for use in orthodontia and established elaborate dental clinics for needy children around the world. He oversaw the building of the Eastman theatre and the Eastman School of Music. His contributions built a new campus for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a new medical school for the University of Rochester. Finally, he became the largest contributor to the education of African Americans during the 1920s and the Tuskegee Institute's most important benefactor.

Elizabeth Brayer lives in Rochester, NY. For the past 18 years she has served on both the George Eastman Legacy and the Landscape committees at the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film. She writes about the history of central and Western New York State. George Eastman: A Biography was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1996.

Table of Contents

Eastmans and Kilbourns
An Amateur There
Scoop the World
"We Do the Rest"
England and America
Prayers and Paper Wars
Photos by the Mile
The Gay Nineties
Prince Henry and the Earl of East Avenue
A Salute for the Czar
GE versus Albion's City
The Power of Combination
Crazy about Color
The Garden of Eden
The House that George Built
From Oak Lodge to Tuskegee
Frozen Music: GE and His Architects
The Platinum-Mounted Farm
Mr. Smith Goes to College
"Pull" Is a Verb
My Hometown
Manifest Destiny
Over There
Kodak Man to Be World's Doctor and Dentist
Music in Every Direction
Dear Mr. Eastman
Trust Your Organization
"My Work Is Done"


Brayer's is a balanced picture of one of the modern era's seminal industrial figures; she has been able, for the first time, to draw on a wide range of sources, including personal papers and corporate records. --TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

Brayer's admirably detailed biography is a fine work of reference. Personalities, social history, science: all are meticulously documented. George Eastman is a very welcome addition to one's biography shelves. --THE LITERARY REVIEW, BALTIMORE

A history of technological revolution in the photographic medium and the emergence of "big business" via the Kodak empire...also a detail-rich look at turn-of-the-century central New York. --LIBRARY JOURNAL

Brayer has written a candid, fact-crammed life of the first camera-and-film tycoon. --PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY

Meticulously researched and clearly written, this book is unlikely to be rivaled and should be recognized as the standard work on the subject. Elizabeth Brayer should be congratulated on a magnificent achievement. A fitting tribute to one of the formative figures of modern times. --BOOKSHELF

Brayer's big book triumphantly mines Eastman's correspondence and reports of those who knew him well. It is a complex and frequently sparkling story of invention, industrial growth in a changing America, personally managed philanthropy, and a little-known, intriguingly complex personality. --THE AMERICAN ENTERPRISE

The astute selection of letters and quotations from more than 20,000 records is a signal achievement. This biography is a fine window on the life of a most unusually talented, interesting, and deeply thoughtful man. --JOURNAL OF IMAGING SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

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