Harold Higgins Swift

National Cyclopedia of American Biography

SWIFT, Harold Higgins, business executive, was born in Chicago, Ill., Jan. 24, 1885, son of Gustavus Franklin and Ann Maria (Higgins) Swift and a descendant of William Swift, who came from England about 1630 and ultimately settled in Sandwich, Mass. From William and his wife, Joan, the descent was through William and Ruth, William and Elizabeth, Joseph and Rebecca Morton, Thomas and Abigail Phillips, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Ellis, and William and Sally Crowell, the grandparents of Harold H. Swift. He received his preliminary education at Graham Grammar School and public schools in Chicago and was graduated Ph.B. at the University of Chicago in 1907. Following graduation he began a continuing association with Swift & Co., the firm founded in Chicago by his father (q.v.) in 1885. Starting in the company's livestock buying department, he subsequently held assignments in various plant and sales departments. In 1919 he organized the company's industrial relations department. He was elected vice-president and a director of the company in 1918, vice-chairman of the board in 1937, and chairman of the board in 1948. He was named honorary chairman of the board in 1955 and continued in that office and as a director and a consultant to the company until the close of his life. During his years with the company he supported the establishment of a noncontributory pension plan, an employees' representation plan, a sickness and accident benefit program, and vacations with pay. Aside from his major business interest, he was a director of the Harris Trust & State Savings Bank, Chicago, Libby, McNeill & Libby, and Swift International, Ltd. (later International Packers, Ltd.). In 1914 Swift became the first graduate of the University of Chicago to be elected a trustee of the university. He was named chairman of the board of trustees in 1922 and served in that capacity until 1949. He also was a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1931 to 1950 and of the General Edu-

(21) -cation Board from 1930 to 1950. During 1946-48 he served on the President's Commission on Higher Education. He was vice-president of the Museum of Science and Industry of Chicago during 1922-26 and from 1926 to 1939 served that institution as a director, and from 1950 until his death he was a trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago. Additionally, he was a member of the executive committee and vice-chairman of the Chicago Community Trust from 1936 to 1955 and at other times served as a director of United Charities of Chicago and the Chicago Council of Social Agencies. Following this country's entry into the First World War, Swift was given the rank of major in the American Red Cross and assigned to a special mission to Russia. After his return to this country he became a captain in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the judge advocate general's department at Camp Sherman, Ohio. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1918. During the Second World War he served for two years as chairman of the U.S. Department of the Treasury war finance committee in Illinois. Honorary LL.D. degrees were conferred on him by Brown University in 1933 and the University of Chicago in 1949. He was the recipient of Northwestern University's Centennial Award in 1951, and six years later the Jesuit society named him one of 100 citizens of Chicago who had rendered outstanding service to the community. He was a member of the Bankers Club of America, Delta Kappa Epsilon, the Century Association and the University Club of New York City, and the University, Chicago, Union League, City, Commercial, Saddle and Sirloin, Quadrangle, Chicago Literary, and Sunday Evening clubs of Chicago. Politically he was a Republican. Reading was one of his principal recreational interests, and he enjoyed art and the opera. He was unmarried. Harold H. Swift died in Chicago, Ill., June 8, 1962.


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