1930 – Publisher Edward Bok, age 66, died of a heart attack at his winter home in Lake Wales, FL. Edward was survived by his wife of 34 years, Mary Louise, and their two sons William and Cary, who have all made their own mark on history.
Edward, who has his own page in Encyclopedia Britannica, holds many credits. The most influential of which is being responsible for the term living room, which prior to him, had been known as a parlor or drawing room, and its purpose entirely different than the manner in which it is used today.
At 10 years old, only 3 years after his family immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands, Edward got a job washing windows at a Brooklyn bakery for 50cents per week. Through his own tenacity he was quickly put to work behind the counter.
At age 13 he dropped out of school and went to work as an office boy for Western Union. When he was 19 he got a job in publishing as a stenographer, and again worked his way into a new position, running the advertising department at Scribner’s Magazine.
He launched Bok Syndicate Press at age 23 where he put out a magazine known today as Cosmopolitan. After selling the magazine for a huge profit, the then 26 year old took over as Editor for the Ladies Home Journal, which he would run successfully for the next thirty years.
Ladies Home Journal became the first magazine in the world to have a million subscribers. He used the publication to influence countless social change, from sex education to residential architecture.
Aside from providing so much cultural influence over the years, the immigrant child that started washing windows at 50cents per week epitomizes the American Dream. When he died his estate was worth $23million. That’s equivalent to $323million today, and in the midst of the worst financial climate of our country’s history.
His autobiography (which you can read below courtesy of Project Gutenberg) won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1921.
I highly recommend the read. There was so much I wasn’t able to cram into the article. His pioneering “Bok Page” syndication, or at age 6 how he would walk around with a basket collecting small pieces of coal that had fallen from the delivery wagons; his establishment of the American Peace Award, etc.