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Iphigene Bertha Ochs

Iphigene Bertha Ochs[1]

Female 1892 - 1990  (97 years)

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  • Name Iphigene Bertha Ochs  [2
    Born 19 Sep 1892  Cincinnati, OH Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    Gender Female 
    Census 7 Jan 1920  New York, New York (Manhattan), NY Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    1920 US 
    Passport Application 21 Sep 1921  New York, New York (Manhattan), NY Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Residence 21 Sep 1921  New York, New York (Manhattan), NY Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    30 West 88 Street 
    Arrival 4 Sep 1934  New York, New York (Manhattan), NY Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    S/S Majestic 
    Reference Number 1188 
    Residence 26 Feb 1990  New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    Died 26 Feb 1990  Stamford, CT Find all individuals with events at this location  [6, 7
    Person ID I1188  aojd
    Last Modified 11 Nov 2011 

    Family ID F6107  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

     1. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger
    Family ID F437  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • (Research):Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger Is Dead; Central Figure in Times's History
      Published: February 27, 1990 - NY Times

      LEAD: Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger, who shaped the history of The New York Times throughout a long and active life, died of respiratory failure in her sleep yesterday morning at her home in Stamford, Conn. She was 97 years old. Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger, who shaped the history of The New York Times throughout a long and active life, died of respiratory failure in her sleep yesterday morning at her home in Stamford, Conn. She was 97 years old. Mrs. Sulzberger nurtured and bridged the generations of the family that has controlled The Times since 1896, when her father, Adolph S. Ochs, acquired it as a small and ailing property. She played an important role in selecting the succeeding publishers -her husband, Arthur Hays Sulzberger; her son-in-law Orvil E. Dryfoos, and her son, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger. From all of them, Mrs. Sulzberger gained a unique view of the great events and personalities of the 20th century and of the paper's growth in covering them. To all of them, she conveyed the traditions of The Times and its dedication to serious journalism, to good taste and to progressive values. Mrs. Sulzberger also served the paper as a director and as a trustee for the stock left by her father. And she strove to preserve the family ties among her 4 children, 13 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren. At her request, cremation and interment will be private. A public memorial service will be held tomorrow at 1 P.M. at Temple Emanu-El, Fifth Avenue at 65th Street. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund or to Mrs. Sulzberger's alma mater, Barnard College. Besides cherishing the values of The Times, Mrs. Sulzberger read the paper diligently and regularly, but only modestly offered the editors ideas and news tips. She also wrote droll letters to the editor on issues great and small, asking that they be thrown out if judged foolish, or published with only a pseudonym, usually the name of a dead relative or friend.

      Devotion to the Parks A woman of energy, social conscience and impish humor, Mrs. Sulzberger pursued a variety of other interests, notably those devoted to parks and the environment, to Barnard, education and libraries, and to the welfare of animals. She once inspired a series of articles that demonstrated the public's low interest and competence in history, a series that won The Times a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1944 and provoked curriculum changes in many states. She also encouraged the paper to develop its potential as a classroom aid to teachers, which helped to make it the most widely circulated daily newspaper in schools and colleges. Mrs. Sulzberger's own history of her experiences, a largely anecdotal memoir as told to her granddaughter Susan W. Dryfoos, was privately printed for friends and family in 1979 and then published by Dodd, Mead & Company in 1981 under the title ''Iphigene.'' In a foreword, the historian Barbara W. Tuchman said of Mrs. Sulzberger, ''She is high-class in every way a woman can function - in devotion to family, in strong social conscience, in elegance of person and winning ways that gain her ends, in alert intelligence and irreverent humor, in energy and unfailing curiosity, in friendship and a welcoming home.''

      Quiet but Decided Influence Throughout her life, Mrs. Sulzberger had a quiet but decided influence on The Times. Perhaps the first time was at the age of 13, when her father discovered that she was using her weekly allowance to buy newspapers that carried comics. Mr. Ochs relented in his own opposition and decided to publish a Timesian strip, called ''The Roosevelt Bears.'' It ran for only six months, in 1906; Iphigene pronounced it boring. When her husband was publisher, Mrs. Sulzberger's influence on The Times went beyond encouraging wider news coverage, to advocating divergent editorial views. She disagreed with Mr. Sulzberger by siding with the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War against the Franco forces, by favoring statehood for Israel to provide a home for displaced European Jews and by preferring Adlai E. Stevenson instead of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower for President. When The Times endorsed Eisenhower in 1952, Mrs. Sulzberger told her husband she would vote for the general ''out of love for you and loyalty to The Times.'' But in 1956 she deserted the newspaper's position and voted for Stevenson. ''I felt I had discharged my obligation to the paper four years earlier,'' she explained in her memoirs. Encouraged by her parents to be curious and undogmatic about the world around her, Mrs. Sulzberger cultivated a well-stocked mind. She read and traveled extensively all her life, from the time her parents took her with them on their first grand tour of Europe when she was 8 years old. One of her most joyous trips was a three-week visit to China in 1973, an experience she considered a high point of her life. Her 81st birthday fell during her stay in Beijing, where her Chinese hosts insisted on giving a banquet in her honor. She was also received by Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, who expressed his regard for Mrs. Sulzberger by inviting her to dinner and by talking with her at length about China and world issues. She was the matriarch of the family and, according to one of her children, ''the glue that held us all together.'' When she was nearing 80, she began spending several days annually with grandchildren at schools in the Boston area, an effort to understand the outlook and life style of young people.

      Chess for Central Park Although Mrs. Sulzberger's major interests were her family and The Times, she embraced a number of civic and educational institutions. In 1928 she joined the Park Association, a volunteer group devoted to improving the city's parks. She became its president in 1934 and held the office until 1950, when she was elected chairman. She gave up that post in 1957 but kept her active membership. Two results of her work for the parks particularly pleased her: getting the financier Bernard M. Baruch to contribute a chess and checkers house to Central Park and helping to restore Joseph Rodman Drake Park in the Bronx. In 1976 Mrs. Sulzberger received the annual award of the Parks Council - a citizens' group into which the Park Association had merged - for her continuing work on environmental issues. In particular the award cited a work-study program she had founded in Central Park several years earlier, which was duplicated in other parks. Four years later Mrs. Sulzberger was named honorary chairman of the newly formed Central Park Conservancy, a group of private citizens who raise funds for Central Park. She also received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Barnard College and the gold medal of the National Institute of Social Sciences for distinguished service to humanity. At the Jewish Theological Seminary she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 1968 for her work in public, philanthropic and educational activities. Another of Mrs. Sulzberger's avocations involved the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Her zeal reflected the delight she took in gardening and in flowers. She was a keen supporter of the institution's program to train student gardeners in cooperation with nearby Christopher Columbus High School. The garden honored her in 1965 with its distinguished service award. Mrs. Sulzberger was also active in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she backed programs to train young people in restoring furniture and paintings. Educational opportunity for youth was the thread that bound together Mrs. Sulzberger's ''outside'' interests. The chief example of this was Barnard College, on whose board she sat from 1937 to 1968, when she became a trustee emeritus. Her happiest achievement in this work was gathering funds for a library. The building, called the Adele Lehman Hall-Wollman Library, cost $2.15 million and was dedicated in 1960. The alumnae citation in 1972 spoke of ''excellence and service, intelligence and old-fashioned hard work.'' Columbia University, at its 1951 commencement, gave Mrs. Sulzberger a Doctor of Laws degree, citing her as the ''distinguished daughter of a distinguished father'' and praising her civic involvement as well as her role at The Times. In addition to her occupation with Barnard affairs, she served at various times as a trustee of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, which gave her an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 1973, and of the University of Chattanooga. She was on the committee for the Dictionary of American Biography and on the advisory committee for publication of the works of Thomas Jefferson, a Princeton University project.

      Honor From a Black College She was also on the boards of the Cedar Knolls School (where she had once worked) and the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, and on the board of managers of Inwood House, a home for unmarried mothers. Mrs. Sulzberger had been a director of Yaddo, a colony for artists and writers in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., that inherited a block of Times stock. In addition, she was involved with the State Communities Aid Association, the National Urban League, the Association on American Indian Affairs and the New York Girl Scout Council. The council at one time met at her home because it could not find a suitable interracial gathering place. In January 1978, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humanities by Bishop College of Dallas, then the largest predominantly black private college in the Southwest, and was commended for having been the largest single private donor in the history of the United Negro College Fund. ''She has contributed more than $35,000 a year in the past decade,'' the citation said. Later that year Mrs. Sulzberger, a prime mover in setting up a program that let high school students alternate classroom studies with store and business jobs, received an award from the New York City Board of Education; it cited her as ''an outstanding friend of cooperative education.'' Amid these activities she found time to be interested in polar explorations, an interest shared with her husband. One result was Adm. Richard E. Byrd's naming of a body of water Sulzberger Bay; it is in Antarctica, off Marie Byrd Land. Its cold blue surface reflects a mountain, Mount Iphigene.

      A Rabbi's Granddaughter Born on Sept. 19, 1892, Iphigene Bertha Ochs grew up as the only child of Adolph S. and Iphigenia Wise Ochs. Her father was then proprietor of The Chattanooga Times, a growing Tennessee newspaper. Her mother was the daughter of Isaac Mayer Wise, rabbi of the Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati and founder of American Reform Judaism. Iphigene's classical name, often shortened by her family to Iffy or If, proved a boon. Anyone who met her could forever greet her by name. ''Who could ever forget a name like Iphigene?'' she once asked. On Aug. 13, 1896, Mr. Ochs bought the faltering New York Times, and soon the family moved from Chattanooga to New York. The child was educated at home until she was 8, when she was sent to Dr. Sachs's School for Girls. Her schooling at home, which Mrs. Sulzberger later called ''rather haphazard,'' nonetheless gave her a good grounding in history and literature. When she learned to read, she said, her parents supplied her with ''one-syllable history books on Rome and Greece and France and the United States,'' along with fiction. Her mother also took her regularly to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, and to the theater. Mr. Ochs introduced his daughter to other worlds - the pleasures of walking, the mysteries of the newspaper business and delight in the ideas of other people. ''Unquestionably, the high point of my week was Sunday, when my father stayed home and took me to Central Park,'' Mrs. Sulzberger said of her girlhood. ''He was a great walker. I learned to enjoy it, too.'' These walks were for fun and education. One of their Sunday trips was to the cemetery in the tiny Joseph Rodman Drake Park in the Bronx. Mr. Ochs walked his daughter to the grave of the poet for whom the park was named and pointed to the tombstone inscription composed by Fitz-Greene Halleck for his friend in 1820:

      Green be the turf above thee Friend of my better days! None knew thee but to love thee, Nor named thee but to praise. Mr. Ochs told Iphigene that he wanted the last two lines placed on his gravestone. The request was quite premature: Mr. Ochs lived until 1935. But his daughter then complied with the wish. Mr. Ochs also took her to the newspaper office. ''What I remember best about The Times of those days was its composing room, where they were very nice and let me push buttons,'' she recalled much later. When she was older, she was often a guest at luncheons her father gave for figures in business, the professions or politics.

      'Are You Sure of Your Facts?' At home, Mr. Ochs was an indulgent yet perfectionist father. He strove to help his daughter buttress her opinions with facts. ''He always used to say to me: 'What is your authority? Where did you read it? Are you sure of your facts?' '' Mrs. Sulzberger recalled. Her father persuaded her to memorize a passage from Benjamin Franklin's ''Autobiography'' that described how Franklin had cultivated humility by avoiding dogmatic statements. ''I think this helped me form the habit of qualifying my remarks; it's become almost second nature,'' she said in later years, ''and I've endeavored to hand this wisdom on to my children and grandchildren.'' Young Iphigene took to travel. Starting in 1900, she made trips every year with her parents, either to Europe or in the United States. These were usually planned learning experiences, adjuncts to school and college. Her attendance at Dr. Sachs's School was followed by four years at the Benjamin-Dean School, from which, in 1910, she entered Barnard. ''I discovered that learning could be a joy,'' she recounted of her years on the Morningside Heights campus. ''I was absolutely happy.'' In her school years she worked in the Henry Street Settlement, the Jewish Big Sisters Program and the Cedar Knolls School for disturbed children, experiences that contributed to a lifelong social awareness. At Barnard, she was attracted to journalism as a career and in her senior year took a course in the School of Journalism at Columbia. But Mr. Ochs held that a newspaper office was no place for women, especially not for his daughter, of whom he felt protective.

      Publisher Gets a Son-in-Law At college she ''very casually'' met Arthur Hays Sulzberger, the son of a cotton merchant; later she was reintroduced to him by her cousin Julius Ochs Adler, with whom Mr. Sulzberger was in military training at Plattsburgh, N.Y. The couple fell in love during Mr. Sulzberger's visits to the Ochs home on Lake George, but Mr. Sulzberger was obliged to propose twice before he was accepted - the successful occasion taking place, as she recalled with a twinkle, ''on the grounds of the local lunatic asylum'' in Spartanburg, S.C. He was stationed nearby as an Army lieutenant. They were married at her parents' home in New York on Nov. 17, 1917, while Mr. Sulzberger was on a 10-day leave. Although Mr. Ochs first had reservations about his daughter's choice, ''within a few years his devotion to Arthur became boundless,'' she said. World War I ended just as Mr. Sulzberger was to be sent abroad. So the couple settled in New York, where Mr. Sulzberger joined The Times. The early years of Mrs. Sulzberger's marriage were given to making a home and rearing her children - Marian, born in 1918; Ruth, in 1921; Judith, in 1923, and Arthur Ochs, who was born in 1926. With her family well started, she began to take an active role in education and philanthropy.

      Offstage Figure at Paper In 1935, after the death of her father, Mrs. Sulzberger became a trustee under his will along with her husband and her cousin Julius Ochs Adler; her husband was elected president and publisher of The Times. As the publisher's wife, Mrs. Sulzberger shared her husband's concerns and problems but remained steadfastly an offstage figure in the operation of the paper. Her memoirs note, though, that at least one news beat - a scoop - came about ''because I had made eyes at a handsome young man in journalism school'' back in 1912 at Columbia. The man was Hollington Tong, who eventually became China's Ambassador to the United States. The beat, on Aug. 23, 1944, was an account by James Reston of secret decisions by four major powers - the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and China - on the future structure of the United Nations, including the concept of veto power in the Security Council. Years later Mrs. Sulzberger revealed that the documents had come from the Chinese delegation, and Mr. Reston confirmed that they had been provided by a young diplomat, Joseph Ku, as a result of Mrs. Sulzberger's friendship with Ambassador Tong. During World War II, she became director of special events for The Times, working with the promotion department. In this job, she furthered programs to assist the war effort, civilian defense, conservation and the use of The Times in schools and colleges. Among other things, Mrs. Sulzberger suggested supplements and booklets for students on the war and on world affairs. She instituted forums for young people, which became a weekly event broadcast by WQXR, the radio station of The Times, and were later carried on television. She was also a tireless hostess at lectures that staff members of The Times gave for teachers, and she had a hand in Musical Talent in Our Schools, a project aimed at stimulating student musicians. After the war, Mrs. Sulzberger quietly phased herself out of her Times job. Her children began to marry and establish homes of their own. Grandchildren were born. This all drew on her sense of family. At the same time, she wanted to devote more attention to domestic concerns, including gardening. Before 1949, the Sulzbergers had a country home, called Hillandale, in White Plains. They sold it and bought a house near Stamford, Conn., which they also named Hillandale.

      A Change of Generations In 1957, the process of shifting daily management of The Times to younger shoulders began. Mr. Sulzberger, who had been president and publisher for 22 years, turned his presidency over to Orvil E. Dryfoos, then 44, husband of the Sulzbergers' daughter Marian. A next step was taken in 1961, when Mr. Sulzberger gave the publisher's post to Mr. Dryfoos and became chairman. He kept that position until his death, on Dec. 11, 1968. Enfeebled by a stroke in his last years, Mr. Sulzberger relied almost completely on his wife as his contact with the world. Meanwhile, in the spring of 1963, after a long newspaper strike in New York, Mr. Dryfoos died. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the youngest Sulzberger child and the only son, was named president and publisher. Along with her son, Mrs. Sulzberger's three other children are now directors of the Times Company - Marian Sulzberger Heiskell, Ruth Sulzberger Holmberg, and Dr. Judith P. Sulzberger. Mrs. Sulzberger herself was a director of the Times Company from 1917 until 1973, when she became a director emeritus. She was among those who voted to alter the company structure fundamentally, granting limited voting rights to the Class A stock and listing it on the American Stock Exchange. At her death she was a trustee of the stock trust established by her father that exercised effective control of the enterprise. After her husband's death, Mrs. Sulzberger continued to live mostly in New York, at 1115 Fifth Avenue, staying in touch with her growing family and carrying on community and educational pursuits. She still traveled, went to the theater, ballet and concerts, and spent weekends in Stamford. In 1982, when she turned 90, there were a number of celebrations. One was given by Barnard to honor her many contributions. Another was held at the New York Botanical Garden, where 165 friends and relatives put on skits, sang songs and poured forth affection. Barbara Tuchman, in the foreword to ''Iphigene,'' notes that Mrs. Sulzberger was appointed by her father to the board of The Times when she was in her 20's and had the longest connection of anyone with the paper. ''Through her, the continuity of family control from father to husband to son-in-law to son has been maintained for over 60 years and, through her, it will be passed on to the next generation - her grandchildren,'' Mrs. Tuchman wrote. ''Through Iphigene's steady companionship and interest in their lives, her influence makes itself felt and will endure at the paper after the source is gone.''

  • Sources 
    1. [S285] .

    2. [S4] PG. 291 SULZBERGER (2) (Reliability: 3).
      QUAY 3


    4. [S97] IPHIGENE OCHS SULZBERGER - PASSPORT APPLICATIONS, JANUARY 2, 1906 - MARCH 31, 1925 (M1490) (Reliability: 3).

    5. [S134] YEAR: 1934; MICROFILM SERIAL: T715; MICROFILM ROLL: T715_5541; LINE: 25; . (Reliability: 3).

    6. [S377] IPHIGENE O SULZBERGER (Reliability: 3).

    7. [S295] NUMBER: 126-22-0483;ISSUE STATE: NEW YORK;ISSUE DATE: BEFORE 1951. (Reliability: 3).