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Benjamin Harrison Swig (1893-1980) was a real estate entrepreneur and a philanthropist. Born in Massachusetts, he became a bank treasurer when he was nineteen years old. In the 1920s, he went into real estate. Following the Great Depression, he specialized in making business arrangements for department stores. By the 1940s, Swig and his partner, J.D. Weiler, were among the biggest real estate operators in the U.S. In 1946, Swig settled in San Francisco and established himself as one of the city's leading businessmen. He invested in the city's premier hotels, including the Fairmont Hotel, and in high-rise developments downtown. Hundreds of organizations benefited from his generosity. He gave millions of dollars to Jewish, Catholic, and secular colleges and universities, hospitals, and social service agencies; to the U.S. military; and to numerous city funds for youth groups, including the Columbia Park Boys' Club and to Boys' Town in Italy. He was knighted by the pope for his contributions to Catholic causes. He also contributed to Israeli institutions and was active in Democratic Party campaigns; was a civilian aide to the secretary of the Sixth U.S. Army, and a president of the San Francisco Chapter of the U.S. Army Association.

The Judah L. Magnes Museum's Western Jewish History Center, in Berkeley, California, has a large collection of archival materials relating to Benjamin Swig. It contains numerous plaques, honorary degrees, certificates and awards that he received; correspondence with family and friends, including some with close friends Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren and California governor Edmund G. Pat Brown; photographs; Freemason certificates; and newspaper clippings.


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