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Monday, February 23, 2009

Who is this John G. Shedd anyway?

John Graves Shedd (July 20, 1850 - October 22, 1926) was the second president and chairman of the board of Marshall Field & Company.

Born on a New Hampshire farm, Shedd arrived in Chicago, Illinois in 1871 and began working as a stock clerk for Marshall Field. By 1901, he had worked his way up to a vice-presidency and took over as president upon Field's death in 1906. Field himself described Shedd as "the greatest merchant in the United States," and, indeed, under Shedd's presidency Marshall Field & Company became the largest store in Chicago and the largest wholesale and dry goods company in the world.

Shedd was a civic leader and founding member of the Commercial Club of Chicago who played an active role in the city's turn-of-the-century efforts to become a world class metropolis. One of Chicago's major philanthropists, he contributed extensively to Chicago charities, universities and museums, and in the early 1920s he provided $3 million to build Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, as a complement to The Field Museum (founded in 1892 as a part of the World's Columbian Exposition and renamed in honor of Marshall Field in 1905) and The Art Institute of Chicago (whose current building was also a product of the 1892 World's Columbian Exposition). Completed in 1930, the Shedd Aquarium remained the world's largest aquarium for most of the century.
He has two namesakes, Shedd Aquarium and John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts.

I vividly remember when students at Shedd School took a field trip the the Aquarium. I believe the whole school went and incidentally one year it was the only field trip my class took that year.

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