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William Bradhurst Osgood Field, 1870-1947

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1870
Place of Birth: Geneva, Switzerland
Place of Death: Westfield


William Bradhurst Osgood Field was a landowner, collector and philanthropist from a prominent New York family. He was the son of William Hazard Field and Augusta Currie Bradhurst Field, and the nephew of Osgood Field, a well known society figure in London and Rome. William's sister, Mary Pearsall Field, was also a significant socialite. In 1902 he married Lila Vanderbilt Sloane Field, the great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. They divided their time between their three family properties, 645 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, High Lawn in Lenox and Westfield in Mohegan Lake. They had four children William Osgood Field, who became a respected glaciologist, Frederick Vanderbilt Field, who became a Communist and writer on Asia's economy, Marjorie Lila who turned High Lawn estate into a top dairy farm with her husband H. George Wilde, and Mary Augusta. The death of William's first wife in 1934 led to subsequent marriages to Erika Segnitz in 1936 (divorced in 1940) and Mary Hemenway in 1944.


Field graduated from the Stevens Institute of Technology in 1894 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He later took courses in biology and zoology at Columbia University. He initially worked as a member of the engineer corps of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. He was a prominent member of many commercial and charitable organisations in New York and sat on numerous boards. Between 1903 and 1909 he was vice-president of M. W. Kellogg Company. He was also appointed to the Board of Managers for the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents in New York in 1907.

Field travelled extensively throughout his life and formed a fine collections of prints, stamps, coins, crucifixes and books. He was a member of the Grolier Club from 1904, serving as president from 1925-1928. In 1910 E. G. Kennedy listed Field as a collector of Whistler etchings, owning K2030201 and K2080201. In 1920 loans from his print collection were made to an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 1942 he bequeathed his books and Edward Lear drawings to the Harvard College Library.

The William B. Osgood Field papers are held in New York Public Library and consists of professional and personal correspondence, financial records, diaries, photographs and ephemera relating to the family from 1897 to 1934.


Field, Frederick Vanderbilt, From Right to Left: An Autobiography, Westport, CT, 1983; Field, Osgood, The Fields of Sowerby near Halifax, England, and of Flushing, New York, 1895; Field, William O., With a Camera in My Hands: A Life History, University of Alaska Press, 2004; Kennedy, Edward G., The Etched Work of Whistler, New York, 1910; New York Times, 8 May 1920, p. 14; (accessed September 2009).