Rowntree A-Z

USA, Rowntrees and

The attention to foreign developments demonstrated by family members of the Rowntree clan is seen in the social studies conducted by Joseph and Seebohm Rowntree. For his study The Temperance Problem and Social Reform, conducted with Arthur Shewell and first published in 1899, Joseph surveyed the alcohol policies in different countries, including the ‘dry states’ in America, Russia, Sweden, Norway and France. While Shewell travelled to America Joseph went to Scandinavia for his own investigations.

A definitive Quaker history

In order to study the different types of Quakerism in America John Wilhelm also travelled across the Atlantic. He published his results in 1902 in his essay, ‘A study in Ecclesiastical Policy’. Also after John Wilhelm’s early death in 1905 Rufus Jones fulfilled the idea of a new history of Quakerism John that the two men had often talked about. Over the following decades he published a series ‘of the complete history of the Quaker movement from its birth to the year 1900’. And Joseph Rowntree, John’s father made a ‘generous financial provision’ to ensure that the project would be finished and become a ‘standard work broadly based upon full knowledge’.

A frequent traveller to the US

Seebohm Rowntree was the family member who came to travel the world most. After his first trip to America in 1921, during which he successfully presented his findings on improvement of welfare conditions in the family company to American scientists and businessmen, he developed a special relationship to the United States.

While giving lectures across the country he met with many American industrialists and made many friends. Among them was Henry S. Dennison (1877-1952) with whom he shared the concern for the welfare of employees. When Dennison died in 1952 Seebohm wrote to his widow, ‘Henry was my oldest and dearest friend’.

Between 1921 and 1937 he crossed the Atlantic sixteen times to visit the country he almost came to see as a second homeland. After the Second World War he returned there for a last trip. He also travelled to other countries to give lectures on labour relations, among them Japan in 1924, India and Australia in 1926 and 1927 and Africa in 1932. Also he undertook several trips to South America. 


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