Marshall Field

Quick Facts

Name: Marshall Field.

Birth Date: August 18, 1834.

Death Date: January 16, 1906.

Place of Birth: Conway, Massachusets.

Place of Death: New York, New York. (3)

Quote: “Goodwill is the one and only asset that competition cannot understand or destroy.” - Marshall Field (4)


Marshall Field was born on August 18, 1934, near Conway, Massachusetts. Field spent his childhood on his family farm, studying at academy until 1852. At the age of 16, Field secured employment as a dry-good clerk in a general store in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In 1856, after five years, Field embarked for Chicago where he found employment as a clerk for Cooley, Wadsworth & Co., a leading dry-goods house, becoming a junior partner in 1862. In 1865, Field became a partner in the firm Field, Palmer, and Leiter. Later, in 1881, when Field bought out his partners, the firm became Marshall Field and Co. (5)

In addition to being a tremendously successful entrepreneur, Field was a great philanthropist. The first of Field's major donations was to fund the founding of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1890, Field donated the land used as the foundation for the University of Chicago, eventually becoming one of the school's largest benefactors. In 1893, Field gave $1,000,000 to fund the museum at the World's Columbian Exposition, the topic of focus in Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City . The artifacts housed in the museum collections are now part of the Field Museum of Natural History, which is located on Lake Michigan in a spectacular building provided by a grant of $8,000,000 from Field. (6)

When Field passed away in 1906 he was the wealthiest man in Chicago, worth an estimated $100 million. The scope of his wealth extends to his Prairie Avenue home, being the first home in Chicago to be wired for electric lighting. (7)

Field Museum of Natural History

Marshall Field's Gravesite

Marshall Field and Co.

Chicago Department Stores & Retail Entrepreneurs