University of Rochester Library Bulletin: The Whipples and George Eastman

Volume XXI · Fall 1965 · Number 1
The Whipples and George Eastman

Within the pages of this issue of the Library Bulletin one of the myths of the City of Rochester is given a new perspective. It is the myth that surrounds the person and personality of George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company and creator of an industrial empire, who gave new direction and impetus to the development of photography.

The Horatio Alger flavor to his life, his magnificent financial gifts and the changes he brought about in the economic and social lives of not just Rochesterians, but of thousands of persons throughout the country and world, all contributed to the myth of George Eastman.

For a new view of this industrial genius, the University of Rochester is grateful to Mrs. George Hoyt Whipple of Manor Parkway, Rochester, the wife of Dr. Whipple, first dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. This year she presented the University Library with a scrapbook which depicts the friendship between Dr. and Mrs. Whipple and the friend they called "G.E."

In this scrapbook Mrs. Whipple mounted all sorts of illustrative material relating to the friendship with Mr. Eastman which she and Dr. Whipple enjoyed so fully. In it there are letters from Mr. Eastman, photographs, newspaper clippings, invitations, programs, cards which accompanied gifts of orchids and other flowers, even corks from champagne bottles opened in celebration of special occasions. It is a delightful volume to browse through.

Even more delightful is the "key" which Mrs. Whipple wrote to accompany the scrapbook. It is an informal, chatty story of her memories of a friendship which was mutually rewarding. From it the reader is able to picture a George Eastman far different from the popular conception of a man completely absorbed in his business-—far different from the man of Eastman House who was regarded as reserved and distant.

Mr. Eastman was a lonely person, and he loved the company of younger people whose vivacity, charm, social grace, and intellectual interests brought him into contact with a world apart from his business and industrial concerns.

The reader also gains an insight into Mr. Eastman's life in his impressive home on East Avenue (now a world-famous museum of photography), and into the "why" behind his struggle for success and financial rewards. The "key" also illuminates the last few days of George Eastman. He ended his life on Monday, March 14, 1932, leaving behind a note: "To my friends  My work is done  Why wait? GE"

All of Mrs. Whipple's reminiscences and the mementos she treasured do much to dispel the feeling that Mr. Eastman was unduly shy, distant, and reserved; at least he was not so with his friends.

Her scrapbook and "key" were on display at Rush Rhees Library during the summer and are now available for perusal in the Department of Special Collections in the Library. Because of the widespread interest in them, theLibrary Bulletin is reproducing the "key" as she wrote it.