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Lewis H. Beck Biography

Lewis H. Beck (1848-1931)

Lewis H. Beck was a successful hardware merchant in Atlanta during the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries. In 1866, after spending a few years on his mother's farm in Newton County and as a soldier in the Confederate forces, Mr. Beck moved to Atlanta to begin a career in the hardware business at the firm of Tomney, Stewart and Orr. By the time he was 32, Mr. Beck had worked his way into the senior partner position at the renamed Beck, Gregg & Company and proudly helped his company become the first incorporated mercantile establishment in the South. Mr. Beck became the corporation's first president, a position he held for a total of 40 years.

In addition to his success in business, Mr. Beck also assisted the community in various ways. He was one of the first organizers for the Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta, he established scholarships for college-bound students in financial need, he created a fund for women seeking an education in business, he established an endowment for acts of courage by members of the Boy Scouts, and he created a fund for retired Methodist ministers of the North Georgia Conference.

In his will, Mr. Beck provided legacies for many charitable and educational organizations. In particular, his Foundation has generously donated funds to the Emory University Library since 1933. With endowments from the Lewis H. Beck Foundation, the library has purchased many notable works, including 118 volumes of the American Indian Ethnohistory, Beethoven's Complete Works, Microfilm copies of The Daily Worker, 17 volumes of the Federal Writers Project on Slave Narratives, and 24 volumes of The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. The Foundation's endowments also enabled Emory University General Libraries to create the Lewis H. Beck Center for Electronic Collections, which promotes the use of electronic collections for study and research through the production and support of digital library resources. Through his Foundation, Lewis H. Beck has continued to help the Emory community in its dedication to progressive education.