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     Immigrants Hall of Fame

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Leo Hendrik Baekeland (1863-1944)
     Considered the "father" of the plastics industry. Born in Ghent, Belgium. Graduated from the University of Ghent. Came to the United States in 1889.  In 1893 he invented Velox, the first photographic paper that could be developed with artificial light. Baekeland also invented Bakelite, the first plastic to have wide applications. Buttons, pencils, fishing rods, adhesives, and radio cabinets are made of it.

George Balanchine (1904-1983)
     Choreographer and dancer. He created more than 100 ballets, including "Don Quixote" and "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue." He helped organize the New York City Ballet and was its artistic director.
     Balanchine was born Georgi Balanchivadze in St. Petersburg. He left Russia in 1924 while on tour with the Soviet State Dancers. He lived in France, then moved to the United States in 1933.

Bernt Balchen (1899-1973)
     An aviator who was chief pilot of Richard Byrd’s Antarctic expedition. Balchen piloted the first flight across the South Pole. He was born in Norway, moving to the United States in 1926. He became a citizen in 1931. During world War II, Balchen was a colonel in the U.S. Air Force and headed a secret air ferry service supplying the Norwegian and Danish underground.

Maurice Barrymore (1847-1905)
     The patriarch of a famous family of actors. Born in India, of English stock. Attended Oxford University. His first appearance in the United States was in 1875. He had great success as a leading man with Olga Nethersole, Helena Modjeska, and Lily Langtry. Barrymore married actress Georgiana Drew, a member of another prominent theatrical family. Their children -- Lionel, Ethel, and John -- were born in Philadelphia.

Bela Bartok (1881-1945)
     Composer of highly-original orchestral and choral music, often using unfamiliar scales and peculiar harmonies. Bartok was born in what is now Romania of Hungarian stock. He studied and wrote most of his music in Budapest, Hungary. His music was largely unappreciated during his lifetime. In 1940 Bartok came to the United States and for a while lecturer at Columbia and Harvard universities. He died in New York City.

Max Beckman (1884-1950)
     An expressionist painter known for his distorted forms, heavy lines, bright colors and complex symbolism. Painted "Blind Man’s Bluff," "The Departure," "Begin the Beguine." Beckman was born in Leipzig, Germany. The Nazis branded his paintings "degenerate." He fled to Amsterdam and then settled in the United States in 1947.

   Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
     Inventor of the telephone. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Because of Bell’s poor health, his father moved the family to Canada in 1870. In 1871, Bell went to New England to teach deaf-mutes to communicate through a code of symbols. His first telephone patent was issued on March 7, 1876. The Bell Telephone Company was formed in 1877.
     He became a U.S. citizen in 1882. In his later life, he devoted much of his time and money on causes for the deaf. He was regent of the Smithsonian Institution and president of the National Geographic Society. When he died, every Bell system telephone in North America was silenced in tribute.

August Belmont (1816-1890)
     A financier and diplomat. Founder of one of the country’s early great fortunes. Born in Alzey, Germany. After working for the Rothschild banking firm in Europe, Belmont came to the United States in 1837 and opened a bank. He later became U.S. minister to the Netherlands. Belmont helped to finance the Civil War by helping to get European loans for the Union. When he retired, he devoted his time to collecting art and breeding horses. Belmont Park race track in New York is named after his son.

James Gordon Bennett, Sr. (1795-1872)
     Founder and editor of the New York Herald. Bennett was the first editor to employ European correspondents, the first publisher to sell papers through newsboys, the first to use illustrations for news stories, and the first to publish stock-market prices and daily financial articles. Born in Scotland. Emigrated to New World in 1819.

Victor Louis Berger (1860-1929)
     A founder of the Socialist Party in the U.S. He also was the first Socialist to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Berger was born in Nieder-Rehbach, Austria. He came to America in 1819 and settled in Milwaukee. He was elected to Congress in 1911.
     When he was re-elected in 1918, the House of Representatives refused to seat him because he had been convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for writing antiwar articles during World War I. Free on bail, Berger was re-elected in 1919, but again was denied his seat. In 1921, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed his conviction. Berger was re-elected in 1922, 1924 and 1926.

Irving Berlin (1888-1989)
     Composer and lyricist of popular songs. Among his many hits were "Blue Skies," "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody," "Easter Parade," "I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas," and "God Bless America." He was born Israel Baline in Temun, Russia. His family brought his to the United States when he was four. One of his first jobs was as a singing waiter. He had no formal music training. His first big hit was "Alexander’s Ragtime Band."

Emile Berliner (1851-1929)
     Invented the microphone and the "Gramophone" to play disc phonograph records. Later inventions included an air-cooled airplane engine and acoustic tiles. Born in Hanover, Germany. Came to the United States in 1870. He had no formal technical education.

Hans Albrecht Bethe (1906-   )
     Winner of the 1967 Nobel Prize in physics for his contributions to the theory of nuclear reactions, especially his explanation of the processes by which stars convert hydrogen into helium. Bethe directed theoretical work on the atomic bomb at the Los Alamos Laboratory. He pioneered in the development of quantum mechanics, and made important contributions to the study of atomic nuclei, charged particles, metals, shock waves, and microwaves.
     Born in Strasbourg, Germany (now Strasbourg, France). He received a Ph.D. from the University of Munich in 1928. Came to America in 1935 to join the faculty of Cornell University. Became a U.S. citizen in 1941.

Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)
     Painter noted for his minutely-detailed panoramic views of Rocky Mountain landscapes. Born in Germany, brought to U.S. as a child. His paintings include "In the Rocky Mountains," "The Oregon Trail," and "Valley of the Yosemite."

         Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910)
    The first woman to obtain a medical degree in the United States. Born in Bristol, England, Blackwell came with her family to live in New York City at the age of 12. Because of her sex, she was refused entry in medical colleges in Philadelphia and New York City. She was finally accepted at the Geneva (New York) Medical College and received her M.D. in 1849. Loss of sight in one eye cut short her ambition to become a surgeon.

Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
     Composer whose music reflect his Jewish background and was written in an unconventional style. Born and educated in Geneva, Switzerland. Founded the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1920. In 1940 he began teaching at the music school at the University of California, Berkeley.

Franz Boas (1858-1942)
     Anthropologist who rejected the notion that some races are superior to others, stating that there are no "pure" racial strains, but that all races are mixed. Born in Westphalia, Germany. He moved to the U.S. in 1886. From 1899 to 1937, he was professor of anthropology at Columbia University, the first to hold that post.

Artur Bodansky (1877-1939)
     From 1915 until his death, Bodansky was the conductor for the Metropolitan Opera Company, New York City. He specialized in German works, especially in Richard Wagner. Born in Vienna, Austria. Came to the U.S. in 1915, soon becoming a citizen.

Edward W. Bok (1863-1930)
    
Author, editor, and philanthropist. His autobiography, "The Americanization of Edward Bok," emphasizes the opportunity awaiting an immigrant in the United States. Born in the Netherlands, brought to the U.S. at the age of six. From 1889 to 1919, he was editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal, where he pioneered the publication of frank articles on the problems of youth, womanhood and child care. In 1923 he established a $100,000 fund to be paid for a workable plan for world peace.

Frances H. Burnett (1849-1924)
     Wrote "Little Lord Fauntleroy," a story of an impossibly angelic boy. The popular book caused many parents to deck out their resentful sons in Fauntleroy velvet suits and lace collars. Born in Manchester, England, and came to the United States with her widowed mother in 1865.

Adolphus Busch (1839-1913)
     This German immigrant arrived in St. Louis in 1857. In 1861, Busch married Lilly Anheuser, the daughter of St. Louis businessman Eberhard Anheuser -- who had recently acquired the Bavarian Brewery.  In 1864, Busch started working at his father-in-law's brewery. In 1879, the brewery's name was changed to Anheuser-Busch.  Busch introduced the Budweiser brand.  He pioneered in pasteurization of beer. When his partner Anheuser died in 1880, Busch became president of the company. The Busch flamily is still in control of the present-day Anheuser-Busch company, now the largest brewery operation in the world. Budweiser is the biggest-selling beer in the world.

 


 

 

 

     Alexander Graham Bell, while experimenting with the telephone, had spilled some acid and called to his assistant Watson in the next room. "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you."
   Watson rushed in. "Mr. Bell," he cried, "I heard every word you said -- distinctly."