Historical Character
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Name: George Eastman

Age: 67

Gender: Male

Race/Ethnicity: White

Profession: Owner and Founder of Eastman Kodak Company

Location: Eastman House

Personal Traits. Skills, Abilities and Characteristics: Hardworking, innovative, daring, philanthropy, the ability to lead, solitary, creative, unmarried

Biography (ca. 1921):

George Eastman was born on July 12th, 1854 in Waterville, New York and moved to Rochester in 1860 so that his father could be close to the business college that he had opened. Two years later his father died, leaving him, his mother, and two older sisters without strong financial footing. He attended school from 8-14 before he had to drop out to help support his family after his father’s death. Eastman worked as a junior clerk for the Rochester Savings Bank.


In 1874, Eastman purchased a photography set. After being unsatisfied with all of its problems, he spent the next three years experimenting in his mother’s kitchen to find a better way to develop pictures. He patented his invention and formed the Eastman Dry Plate Company in 1881, which was then changed to the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company after he patented flexible film.


Eastman founded the Eastman Kodak Company in 1892, whose large success was due to the simplification of photography which brought the field into the public mainstream. He then shared this success with the community through philanthropy. Eastman donated $100 million throughout his life, with much of the money going to the University of Rochester, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology, and two largely African American schools in the South, Tuskegee Institute and Hampton Institute. Also interested in improving health, Eastman helped found medical clinics in London and other European cities to help care for its poorer residents. He gave back to the city of Rochester the most in order to keep his workers and company happy and stable.