“America’s Sixty Families”
by Ferdinand Lundberg, New York 1936
I first read the title “America’s Sixty Families”, I could not expect to
get Mr Lundberg’s book and discover these sixty families, who owned and
controlled America. In many ways it inspired my own “Classification of
American Wealth” which started to take form years later. There, was a
consideration of family wealth at the basis of a theory of power and
control of the American economy, a vision to which I easily adhered.
was a bit disappointed
when I found out that Mr Lundberg’s list actually contained only 38
families, the rest being made up of 22 individuals, whose fortunes would
be put on a family basis a few years after the data for his analysis was
provided. He also failed to give enough details about the composition of
his list, to satisfy my analytical mind. Finally, I missed certain names,
(he added some summarily but without details), and disagreed on certain
figures. All in all an excellent basis to start my own research, which
together with many other related questions launched me on the path of “A
Classification of American Wealth”.
this and for his excellent informative other books, I would like to thank
Mr Lundberg many times.
D.C. Shouter, January 18, 2004
Lundberg’s data consisted of published individual income tax records for
the year 1924. We thus dated our list entitled “America’s Sixty Families”
with this year (1924), although Mr Lundberg’s book was first published in
1936. This also permits an easy comparison to our list of wealthy families
all our lists, “America’s Sixty Families (1924)” draws on the data of the
American Wealth database. This forced us to make certain adaptations, of
which the most important are:
Kuhn-Loeb family : in the AW database, the Kuhn-Loeb banking dynasty
is considered as one family, its members being all related/descended in
various ways from the company’s founders Abraham Kuhn and Solomon Loeb. Mr
Lundberg listed the Warburgs and the Kahns separately and also had
Mortimer Schiff included among the individuals. We thus added up the 3
entries to make it the Kuhn-Loeb family.
We added the two aggregated family groups, “Morgan Inner Group” and
“Standard Oil Group”, Mr Lundberg created artificially, to the family
fortune database. These records will be used solely for the purpose of the
1924 list. We will try to figure out their compositions and publish this
as an annex at a later stage.
We disregarded the
condition of multiple members to list our family fortunes. That means,
family fortunes with only one member will also appear in our other lists.
We added the Hutton-Post-Woolworth-McCann-Donahue fortune, Mr Lundberg
cited in the text, under Woolworth in the 1924 list. This is a bit wrong,
as the Post cereals fortune is not actually related to the Woolworth’s.
result is a list of 42 families, containing all of Mr Lundberg’s family
listings and some individuals. For the remaining entries, we may add
family fortune listings into the AW database at a later stage and thus
they would appear in the 1924 list.
comparing the 1924 list with our other lists, particularly with the one
for 1925, you should bear in mind that :
The 1924 family fortune
figures and number of members are directly derived from Mr Lundberg’s
list, whereas in our other lists they are aggregations of individual
Our estimates of
fortunes are based on various sources of information, such as official
estate appraisals, published figures, financial analyses of known stock
holdings and evolution, third party estimates (eg such as given to
Clarence W. Barron by insiders), etc. Mr Lundberg aggregates his estimates
from the 1924 tax figures, which he multiplies by 60 to derive the
The family combinations sometimes differ. Examples are our
Flagler-Harkness family, which also includes the Kenans (heirs of Henry
Morrison Flagler’s third wife), whereas Mr Lundberg considers only the
Harknesses. Also our Medill family comprises the Pattersons, but also part
of the McCormicks.
Members of American families living abroad are counted in our lists, but
obviously not in Mr Lundberg’s. Hence the big difference for the Astor
As in all our lists the capital of philanthropic foundations and
endowments is still considered in the donor’s fortune until his death.
That explains notably the difference in the (John Davison) Rockefeller
fortune. But also the Rosenwald and other fortunes are affected.
Our 1925 family list has presently 84 entries. As a result of a
reconciliation prior publication on the web site, it contains all entries
of the “America’s Sixty Families (1924)” list. Some are contained in
different headings though. For instance, Arthur Curtiss James (listed
individually by Mr Lundberg) belongs to our Phelps-Dodge family, which
comprises 36 people, descending from Anson Greene Phelps. Similarly,
Archer Milton Huntington is just one of three Huntingtons listed in our
1925 list, and Ogden Livingston Mills, just one of two Mills.
Mr Lundberg cited a second layer of some 90 wealthy families (although he
precised only 27 families plus 15 individuals) which he left out of his
numerical analysis. Some of them are covered in our 1925 list and some
even have higher positions than those included in Mr Lundberg’s list.
Examples are : Goelet, Weyerhaeuser, Brady, Swift and Candler. Some
families are not listed by Mr Lundberg at all, including Dodge
(automobile), Harriman (railroads and banking), Morris (packing),
Weightman (chemicals) and others. The Pratt and Rogers families are
covered under the somewhat vague heading “Standard Oil Group”, but other
important fortunes derived from the oil trust are absent, notably the
Bostwicks, Jennings and Brewsters.
out who were “America’s Sixty Families (1924)”
inspired by Ferdinand Lundberg,
including the 16 listed individuals left out of our list as well as the 27
families and 15 individuals Mr Lundberg mentioned as pertaining to the
outer circle of 90 wealthy families
(in Additional information about Mr
Lundberg’s original list)
Compare this significant historical list with the American Wealth lists of
wealthy families 1925 or
1900 and seek more details in the AW lists of
wealthy individuals 1925 and
Or browse through “Encyclopedia of American Wealth”
for additional information (lists or profiles) on wealthy Americans or
wealthy American families of the past.
Books by Ferdinand Lundberg :
Rich and Super Rich
(Bantam Books, 1968)
(1976) Search at BN :
Out of Print, Used & Rare