Though he never made it to college or even to high school, Dutch immigrant Edward Bok would receive honorary degrees from several institutions, including Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
Edward Bok was born in Den Helder in 1863. His father had, who came from a distinguished family lost his fortune and subsequently moved the family across the Atlantic to Brooklyn when Edward was six years old.
He had to wander the streets searching for stray pieces of wood and coal to bring home for the family. At age nine, Bok obtained a gig cleaning the windows of a bakery. He then added a paper delivery route and began selling water on warm days to people heading to Coney Island. At the age of thirteen he started working as an office boy for the Western Union Telegraph Company.
When Bok was eighteen, his father died. Three years later he became the self-taught editor of The Brooklyn Magazine, where he stayed for three years. Bok decided to leave New York City for Philadelphia in October in 1889. The twenty-six-year-old had landed a new position as chief editor at the Ladies’ Home Journal.
During his tenure, the Ladies’ Home Journal became the most widely circulated magazine on the planet. Eventually, Bok had some thirty-five subeditors under his wing. In 1896 he married the publisher's daughter, Mary Louise Curtis. Bok remained with the Ladies’ Homes Journal for thirty years until his retirement in 1919, when the magazine’s circulation was approaching two million.
Still very active in his ‘retirement’, he composed his autobiography The Americanization of Edward Bok, which was published exactly fifty years to the day of his arrival in the country. His book received a Pulitzer Prize in 1921. He also became an active philanthropist donating significant sums to various causes.
In retirement, he spent his winters in central Florida, where he built the Bok Tower Gardens, a 250-acre site that now is a National Historic Landmark.
For more on Edward Bok and his legacy, read Issue 45 of Dutch the magazine.
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Original article by: Ray Cavanaugh