Presidential Reception Suite, first floor
National Museum of American History
Enter at Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W.
Kathleen Franz, chair, Division of Work and Industry, National Museum of American History
Fred P. Hochberg, donor, former president, Lillian Vernon Corp. and chairman and president, Export-Import Bank of the United States (2009–2017)
David Hochberg, donor, former vice president of public affairs, Lillian Vernon Corp.
Women’s business history is an integral part of the museum’s “American Enterprise” exhibition. This donation ceremony will mark the accession of objects from the career of entrepreneur Lillian Vernon (1927–2015) to the national collection. Vernon, born Lilli Menasche in Leipzig, Germany, began a simple venture selling monogrammed accessories for teenagers, eventually growing her home business into a major corporation through business acumen and perceptive marketing. The Lillian Vernon Corp. became the first business founded by a woman to be publicly traded on an American stock exchange.
Included in the donation are the original kitchen table that Vernon used to launch her enterprise; company catalogs and other archival materials; examples of early merchandise, including a monogrammed purse; and the scrapbook she kept as a teenager. Her story will be showcased alongside those of other women entrepreneurs in the exhibition, including Madam C.J. Walker, beauty entrepreneurs Elizabeth Arden and Estée Lauder and contemporary businesswomen such as Myra Goodman, co-founder of Earthbound Farm.
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