When Florence Guggenheim died at age eighty, she was recalled in newspapers across the country for her generous support of many causes and her active political and philanthropic contributions to the institutions she had supported.
Florence Shloss Guggenheim was born on September 3, 1863, in Philadelphia, the daughter of Lazarus and Barbara (Kahnweiler) Shloss. She married Daniel Guggenheim on July 22, 1884. As part of the Guggenheim family, Daniel was on the board of directors of the American Smelting and Refining Company. The Guggenheims had two sons, Robert and Harry, and a daughter, Gladys Guggenheim, who would later marry Roger W. Straus of New York, who cofounded the publishing house Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
In her younger years, Florence Guggenheim was fond of sports, particularly horseback riding and golf, which she played near their Long Island home. Her interests included art and especially music, which later became the focus of much of her philanthropic work. Together she and her husband shared philanthropic interests that became a trademark of the Guggenheim family.
Florence Guggenheim played an active role in Jewish affairs as well as in women’s civic endeavors. During World War I, she was involved in the sale of Liberty Bonds and in the area of aviation, which was a particular avocation of her husband’s. She was a director of the National League for Women’s Service and held what was reputed to be the record for individual sales of Liberty Bonds. Florence Guggenheim was a long-standing member of Congregation Emanu-El and for twenty years served as the treasurer and trustee of the Emanu-El Sisterhood of Personal Services.
As a Republican, Guggenheim was the treasurer of the Women’s National Republican Club from 1921, when it was first founded, to 1938. She later served on its board of governors. As philanthropists, Florence and Daniel Guggenheim were best known for sponsoring the free outdoor concerts in Central Park and at Columbia and New York universities. They were joined in providing the funds for these endeavors by family members Mr. and Mrs. Murray Guggenheim. After the death of her husband in 1930, as a memorial, Florence Guggenheim continued to support the concerts.
In 1924, the Guggenheim Foundation was formed by the family to make their participation in charities more efficient. Florence Guggenheim served as president and a director of the foundation, which supported a variety of artistic causes and institutions.
In 1937, she was honored by being elected to a life associate membership in the American Bandmasters Association. She continued to pay homage to her husband’s deep interest in aviation, and in June 1942, she donated her 162-acre estate to the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences for aeronautical research and study.
Florence Guggenheim died in New York City on May 13, 1944.
AJYB 46:338; Obituary. NYTimes, May 14, 1944, 45:1; UJE; WWIAJ (1938).
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Logan, Claudia. "Florence Shloss Guggenheim." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 27 February 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 20, 2020) <https://qa.jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/guggenheim-florence-shloss>.