E. Roland Harriman

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Person.png E. Roland Harriman  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(central banker)
E. Roland Harriman.png
BornEdward Roland Noel Harriman
December 24, 1895
New York City
DiedFebruary 16, 1978 (Age 82)
Arden, New York
Alma materGroton School, Yale University
ChildrenElizabeth Harriman Phyllis Harriman Mason
SiblingsMary Harriman .W. Averell Harriman
SpouseGladys Fries Harriman
Member ofSkull and Bones
well connected Bonesman banker

Employment.png American Red Cross/President

In office
1950 - 1953
Title changed to Chairman in 1953

Employment.png American Red Cross/Chairman

In office
1954 - 1973
Title changed from President in 1953

Edward Roland Noel "Bunny" Harriman was an American financier and philanthropist.

Early life

Harriman was born on December 24, 1895 in New York City.[1] He was the youngest of five surviving children of Mary Williamson Averell and Edward Henry Harriman.[1][2] Among his siblings was W. Averell Harriman, the financier and government official, four years his senior.[1] Edward H. Harriman's estate was substantial, variously estimated between $70 million and $100 million upon his death in 1908, leaving his wife and children well provided for.

Roland, whom friends and family sometimes called "Bunny," was educated at Groton School, from which he graduated in 1913, and Yale University (B.A., 1917), where he was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity.[1][2] He was also a member of Skull and Bones with his classmate and friend Prescott Bush.[3] During World War I he served for 10 months as an inspector with the rank of lieutenant in the United States Army Ordnance Department; stricken with pneumonia and influenza, he was honorably discharged in January 1919.


After regaining his health in California, in November 1919, Harriman joined the Merchant Shipbuilding Corporation, a firm in which his brother W. Averell Harriman had an interest.

In 1922, Harriman joined the W. A. ​​Harriman Company, an investment bank in New York and had dealings with Nazi Germany before and during World War II, and the following year he became its vice-president. In 1927 the two brothers formed the banking firm Harriman Brothers and Company.[1] In 1931 the firm was merged with Brown Bros. & Co., with Roland as vice president. Headquartered on Wall Street, Brown Brothers Harriman started with nine partners and about 200 employees, performing specialized banking services for customers, mainly medium-sized corporations; it was not a member of the Federal Reserve System or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

In 1968 Harriman and three other senior partners at Brown Brothers (Robert A. Lovett, secretary of defense under President Harry Truman; Prescott Bush, former senator from Connecticut; and Knight Woolley — all Yale men) moved "upstairs," literally and figuratively, to make way for the younger partners, one of whom was Robert Roosa, former undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury. In 1975 a few years prior to Harriman's death, there were 29 partners and approximately 1,000 employees.

Harriman was made chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad for 23 years.[1]

Union Bank and Nazi Germany

Harriman was one of the seven directors of the Union Banking Corporation (along with Prescott Sheldon Bush, father of future U.S. president George H.W. Bush), which financed Fritz Thyssen a donor to the Nazi Party and whose assets were seized by the United States government during World War II under the Trading with the Enemy Act and Executive Order No. 9095.

Personal life

On April 12, 1917, he married Gladys Fries[1] (1896–1983). They resided in Arden, New York[4] and were listed in the Social Register.[5] Together they had two children:

  • Elizabeth Harriman, who was married to Alexander C. Northrop, then Maximillian Bliss, Jr.
  • Phyllis Harriman, a landscape painter, who was married for several years to fellow artist Frank Herbert Mason

Harriman died on February 16, 1978 in Arden, New York,[1] and his wife died in 1983, also in Arden, New York.[6]


With his wife, Harriman established the Irving Sherwood Wright professorship in geriatrics at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, and provided funds for cardiovascular research at the hospital.

After World War II, Harriman joined the American Red Cross as a member of the board of governors in 1947 and helped reorganize it, serving as manager for the organization's North Atlantic area from 1944 to 1946, as vice-president and national annual fund appeal chair in 1949, and was appointed its president by President Truman to succeed General George Marshall in 1950.[1] President Dwight Eisenhower reappointed him president in 1953.

Harriman's other philanthropic board memberships included that of the American Museum of Natural History, for which he was also treasurer. He was also the chairman of the U.S. Trotting Association.[1] He was also president and chairman of the Boys' Club of New York.[1]


  1. a b c d e f g h i j k Kenneth T. Jackson, Lisa Keller, Nancy Flood, The Encyclopedia of New York City, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2010 [1]
  2. a b JOIN YALE FRATERNITIES.; E. Roland Harriman Among Those Elected to Junior Societies., The New York Times, November 19, 1914
  3. https://archive.org/details/americandynastya00phil_0
  4. Kenneth Czech, With Rifle & Petticoat: Women as Big Game Hunters, 1880-1940, Derrydale Press, 2002, pp. 91-95 [2]
  5. Social Register, Social Register Association, Volume 101, p. 1168
  6. Gladys Fries Harriman, The New York Times, August 24, 1983