Brown, David Abraham, 1875-1958

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Businessman and philanthropist, of Detroit, Mich., and New York, New York.

From the description of Papers, 1894-1959. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70925033

Industrialist, banking consultant, and civic and communal relief leader and fundraiser.

From the description of David Abraham Brown papers, 1942 and 1968. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 428151527

David Abraham Brown was one of eleven children born to Charlotte and Morris Brown. His parents immigrated to the United States shortly after the Civil War, but returned to Edinburgh, Scotland where David was born on November 3, 1875. At age five, his family returned to the United States, settling in Detroit, Michigan.

Without job skills, Morris Brown was pressed to keep his family clothed and fed. He died at a relatively young age, leaving to his wife and older children the task of raising the large family. In 1896, David and his brothers, Julius and Israel, began business as coal distributors. By 1914, the General Neccessitities Corporation, not only distributed coal and ice, but had twenty subsidiaries.

In April 1898, David Brown enlisted in the Detroit Volunteer Light Infintry which became a part of Company L, 32nd Michigan Regiment of the United States Army. He was mustered out of the Army in September 1898, without having seen any action in the Spanish-American War.

The year 1914 marked the beginning of his active participation in affairs outside of the General Necessities Corporation. He founded the Old Newsboys Goodfellow Fund with Jim L. Brady; traveled to Europe where he meet Herbert C. Hoover; and headed the first relief fund drive in Detroit which collected $150,000 (which broke local records).

In 1918, accompanied by wife Paula, he traveled to Japan, Korea, and China. The trip had a lasting effect on Brown and his interest and involvement with China and its people was to continue for the remainder of his life.

Despite his varied interests, David Brown was best known as a fund raiser. Brown, along with Jacob Billikopf, were considered to be pioneers in professional fund raising. Following the Detroit Relief Fund Campaign of 1914, Brown was invited to direct the New York section of the 1917 Campaign for the Relief of Jewish Victims of the War (in Europe and Palestine.) The goal of $5,000,000 was surpassed. In 1921, he was invited to serve as the National Chairman of a campaign to raise $14,000,000 for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Commnittee. The goal was achieved. He continued throughout the 1920s to direct and assist in the direction of the fund raising activities of the Committee.

Brown served on numerous committtes. In 1922, he served as the member of the Committe to Investigate the Economic Status of European Jewry. In 1924, he toured the United States on behalf of the Palestine Foundation fund and assumed the chairman of the Finance Committee of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Following a 1925 Russian trip, Brown began to raise funds for settling Jews on Biro-Bidjan. In 1928, he became chairmain of the United States Division of China Famine Relief, a position Brown held until 1933.

The year 1929 was eventful for David A. Brown. He moved to New York City, where he established the Broadway National Bank and Trust Company and the Broadway National Company with himself as chairman of the board of directors. He successfully sued General Moters, Frigidaire and Delco companies. And he was honored at a testimonial dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria.

In 1931, Brown left the banking business to become a private business consultant; president and publisher of the American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune (weekly newspapers); and, as chairman of China Flood Relief. As a publisher, Brown had a vehicle from which he could launch his ideas and voice his opinions.

In 1932, he visited China a second time, at the request of the Chinese government. Upon his return to the United States, he actively campaigned for funds for the China Flood Relief and was on several radio programs. In 1933, he founded the American Friends of China, Incorporated and was president. Although the organization was not successful, Brown remained strongly interested in China.

By 1937, David Brown had resigned most of his positions including: the JDC, the UAHC, The American Hebrew, China Famine Relief, the O.R.T. and the Ameircan Society for Jewish Farm Settlements in Russia..

In 1904, Brown married Paula Kahn and to them two daughters were born; Carolyn or Caroline (Mrs. Harold Shappiro) and Rosalie (Mrs. Jessiee Sherman). His wife Paula died in 1924. In 1940, he married Pearl Kroll who survived him. He died December 23, 1958 in New York City at the age of 83.

From the guide to the David A. Brown Papers., 1894-1959., 1930-1936., (The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Billikopf, Jacob, 1883-1950. Papers, 1900-1951. American Jewish Archives
referencedIn Feldman, Abraham J. (Abraham Jehiel), 1893-1977. Abraham J. Feldman papers, 1906-1977. American Jewish Archives
referencedIn Goldman, Robert Philip, 1890-1976. Papers, 1917-1976. American Jewish Archives
referencedIn Waldman, Morris D. (Morris David), b. 1879. Papers, 1912-1963. American Jewish Archives
creatorOf Brown, David Abraham, 1875-1958. Papers, 1894-1959. American Jewish Archives
creatorOf David A. Brown Papers., 1894-1959., 1930-1936. The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
referencedIn MS 17646, Brown, Homer 1830-1905. Benjamin Brown family collection 1835-1983 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Church History Library
creatorOf Brown, David Abraham, 1875-1958. David Abraham Brown papers, 1942 and 1968. American Jewish Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Friends of China, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith American Jewish Committee corporateBody
associatedWith American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee corporateBody
correspondedWith Billikopf, Jacob, 1883-1950. person
associatedWith Bloch, Morris person
associatedWith Brown, David A person
associatedWith China Famine Relief U.S.A. Inc corporateBody
associatedWith Coughlin, Charles person
correspondedWith Feldman, Abraham J. (Abraham Jehiel), 1893-1977. person
associatedWith Ford, Henry person
associatedWith Fox Securities Coroporation corporateBody
associatedWith Fox Securities Corporation corporateBody
associatedWith Fox, William person
correspondedWith Goldman, Robert Philip, 1890-1976. person
associatedWith Greater Detroit Board of Commerce corporateBody
associatedWith Hoover, Herbert C. person
associatedWith Institute of Scrap Iron and Steel corporateBody
associatedWith Karpf, Maurice J. person
associatedWith Lamport, Samuel C. person
associatedWith Lehman, Herbert H. person
associatedWith Leonard, Luke C. person
associatedWith Non-sectarian anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights corporateBody
associatedWith O.R.T. corporateBody
associatedWith Palestine Emergency Fund. corporateBody
associatedWith Rosenwald, Julius person
associatedWith Waldman, Morris person
correspondedWith Waldman, Morris D. (Morris David), b. 1879. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)--New York
Soviet Union
Bellaire (Ohio)
United States
Osaka (Japan)
Jews--Charitable contributions
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
Nuclear nonproliferation
World War, 1939-1945--Participation, Jewish
Fund raising
Jews, Oriental--China
Civic leaders--United States
Philanthropists--New York (State)--New York
Businessmen--New York (State)--New York


Birth 1875

Death 1958



Ark ID: w64468kn

SNAC ID: 49362401