BLAUSTEIN


BLAUSTEIN
BLAUSTEIN, U.S. industrialist family. LOUIS (1869–1937) was born in Russia and emigrated to the U.S. in 1888. Starting in business as a kerosene peddler, Blaustein went to work in 1892 for the Standard Oil Company at its Baltimore plant and by 1910 had risen to an executive position. In that year he left Standard Oil and, with a small amount of capital, founded the American Oil Company in Baltimore. The enterprise flourished due in large part to Blaustein's innovations in oil distribution in a period when the automobile was emerging as the major user of petroleum products. He experimented with new forms of gasoline and claimed the first high-test gasoline developed in the country. Blaustein's filling stations spread from Baltimore through Maryland and eventually covered the entire East Coast. In 1924 the giant Pan-American Petroleum and Transport Company (later controlled by Standard Oil Company of Indiana) paid $5,000,000 for a half interest in the American Oil Company and merged with it in 1933. Blaustein remained active in the firm as it continued to expand, building steamship terminals and petroleum refineries. During his later years he gave large sums to charity, usually anonymously. JACOB (1892–1970), son of Louis, was associated with his father in the founding of the American Oil Company in 1910, serving in executive positions and as its president during 1933–37. Later he served as president of the American Trading and Production Corporation as well as director and executive committee member of major national companies in the fields of petroleum, insurance, and banking. He was reportedly one of the richest individuals in America. During World War II Blaustein was vice-chairman of the U.S. Petroleum Administration's marketing committee and served on other wartime committees. His civic activities include support of the American Heritage Foundation, United Negro College Fund, and American Association for the United Nations. Blaustein played an active role in Jewish affairs, with a major commitment to the American Jewish Committee, which   he served as executive committee chairman (1944–49) and president (1949–54). As president, Blaustein worked to protect the civil and religious rights of Jews and other minorities and to promote tolerance among races. He served on the boards of the American Friends of the Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. His philanthropic activities ranged from local philanthropy in Baltimore, to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, United Service for New Americans, and the Conference on Jewish Claims Against Germany. He was a member of the American delegation to the tenth UN General Assembly and was a leader in the movement to adopt the Convention on Genocide and the Declaration of Human Rights, helping to promote the idea of a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a position that was established more than two decades after his death. Several important institutions have been created and/or funded by the Blaustein family. The Blaustein Philanthropic Group, located in Baltimore, Maryland, is a constellation of foundations inspired by the legacy of Louis and Henrietta Blaustein. Each foundation represents a different branch of the Blaustein family and has a unique identity, set of priorities, and geographic focus. United by their roots in Jewish tradition, the foundations are dedicated to social justice and equal opportunity. As part of the Blaustein Philanthropic Group, the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation provides grants to help further the cause of human rights as well as strengthen Jewish life, Israeli democracy, educational opportunity, health, and mental well-being. The Jacob Blaustein Center for Scientific Cooperation, located in Israel, supports a variety of activities related to the promotion of scientific cooperation with scientists and institutions in Israel and around the world. The Institute for Desert Research, established in sedeh boker in 1974 under the auspices of Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, received a generous contribution from The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation in 1980 and was named The Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research (BIDR). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: LOUIS BLAUSTEIN: New York Times (July 28, 1937), 19. JACOB BLAUSTEIN: H. Frank, in: Jewish Digest (March 1962); Current Biography Yearbook 1949 (1950), 60–61; Forbes (Sept. 15, 1968), 26–28. (Morton Rosenstock / Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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