Anne Tracy Morgan (1873-1952) was a socialite and philanthropist best known for efforts to provide humanitarian aid to French civilians during both of the Great World Wars. An exhibition at The Newberry Library, American Women Rebuilding France, 1917-1924, which runs from Wednesday, September 17, 2014 to Saturday, January 3, 2015, concerns her work during World War I.
Born the youngest child of the financier, banker, and philanthropist John Pierpont Morgan, Sr. (1837-1913) and his second wife, Frances (“Fanny”) Tracy Morgan (1842-1924), Miss Morgan was born at her family’s wooded estate on the Hudson River in Highland Falls, New York. Diane Dillon, The Newberry Library’s Interim Vice President for Research and Academic Programs, related that Miss Morgan “traveled across the Atlantic several times with her parents as a young girl.”
She traveled abroad for the first time at the age of three. The family owned a residence in England and often stayed at the Bristol Hotel in Paris.
If her family wanted to see Egypt, they would charter a steamer to go down the Nile. Her dresses came from The House of Worth in Paris.
J.P. Morgan, Sr. had engineered the merger of the Edison Electric Company with the Thomas-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric in 1892. As if that was not enough, he financed the creation of the Federal Steel Company and in 1901 oversaw its merger with the Carnegie Steel Company, the Consolidated Steel & Wire Company, and others to form U.S. Steel. He also led a group of bankers that stopped the Panic of 1907.
Anne Tracy Morgan was the youngest sister of the banker and philanthropist John Pierpont (“Jack”) Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943), who founded The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City in 1924. Her brother inherited the bulk of their father’s fortune when he died in 1913, as well as control of J.P. Morgan & Company, but she inherited $3,000,000, which was a considerable fortune.
Around 1900, she befriended Elisabeth Marbury (1856-1933), a literary and theatrical agent and theatrical producer. Three years later, they and Florence Jaffray Hurst Harriman (1870-1967) founded the Colony Club, the first women’s social club in New York City, of which Mrs. Harriman served as president from 1903 to 1916.
Elsie De Wolf (1865-1950), a socialite and former actress, had, at the suggestion of Miss Marbury, become one of the first women to be an interior decorator. In 1905, she won the commission to decorate the Colony Club with the help of the famous architect Stanford White (1853-1906).
In 1906, Miss Morgan lived at Villa Trianon near Versailles with her friends Miss Marbury and Miss de Wolf. Three years later, as recounted in the P.B.S. television series The American Experience, she “worked with the National Civic Federation to provide food to underprivileged women workers in New York. In 1910 she joined the American Woman’s Association (AWA), helping working women invest their own money to fund leisurely pursuits.”
With Miss Marbury, Mary Dreier, and Alva Belmont, Miss Morgan formed a committee within the Women’s Trade Union league (W.T.U.L.) to protect striking workers of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory from abuse, fund the strike, and gain attention from the mainstream press. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, which employed approximately 500 people, and occupied the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors of the Asch Building at 23–29 Washington Place, manufactured women’s shirtwaists (blouses).
Across New York City, factory owners hired guards, thugs, and prostitutes to beat and harass striking workers. The women of Miss Morgan’s committee would walk the line in the belief the police would be less likely to beat the striking workers in the presence of high-society matrons. Committee members also went to court to pay fines for striking workers and bring legal action against policemen.
When Triangle Shirtwaist Factory workers rejected an offer of increased wages and shorter hours if they stopped demanding union recognition, Miss Morgan stopped her support of the strike. In February of 1910, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory workers caved in and accepted the offer.
 Ella Anderson (“Elsie”) De Wolf is also known as Lady Mendl because in 1926 she married Sir Charles Mendl, a British diplomat in France. Consequently, she lost her American citizenship. On the outbreak of the Second Great World War, the Mendls moved to Hollywood. A special act of Congress restored Lady Mendl’s citizenship. After the war, she moved back to the Villa Trianon, where she died in 1950.
 Elsie De Wolf and Elizabeth Marbury were friends of the French novelist and playwright Victorien Sardou (1831-1908), who lived nearby in another former royal residence, Château de Marly, at Marly le Roi. The Villa Trianon was a former royal residence that had last been occupied in the 19th Century by a member of the House of Orleans, Prince Louis Charles (1814-1896), Duc de Nemours, the second son of Louis Philippe (1773-1850), King of the French (1830-1848). Miss De Wolf dedicated a chapter to Villa Trianon in her book The House in Good Taste, published in 1914.
 On March 25, 1911, 129 women teenage girls and 17 men died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which started on the eighth floor and spread upwards to the ninth and tenth floors with plenty of cotton and paper fuel. Fire truck ladders could only reach six stories. The exit doors were locked to prevent thefts, something a union surely would not have accepted. The fire escape collapsed under the weight of panicking workers. Some workers leapt out windows to their deaths rather than be engulfed by flames.