The Packard Family: A Legacy of Innovation and Philanthropy

Cover Image:
Mr Packard in his eponymous automobile
Mr Packard in his eponymous automobile - Image Source

Collection Facts


Historical Context

The Packard family grew from their home in Warren, OH to have a lasting impact on the world. The Progressive Era had the nation viewing Westward expansion as a symbol of wealth and progress. Invention was booming and the nation the saw development of things like the incandescent light bulb, the Ferris Wheel, the medical glove, and even the bottle cap. Motor cars were mostly electric at this time. James Ward Packard joined the race to produce cars that ran on internal combustion technology and launched a company that would be a leader in luxury automobiles.


The Progressive Era saw the development of states, cities, towns, and villages. There was a push for rural reform nationally. The focus on improving the quality of life, the building infrastructure, and the advancement of public education brought investment to the spotlight. The government invested money, as did private investors like Andrew Carnegie, JP Morgan, and James Ward Packard to varying degrees. These same investors later contributed to the betterment of communities by establishing libraries, land conservation, and the support of public education.


The Packard’s were a family of innovators and philanthropists. Their contributions shaped the future in large and small ways – from the advancement of motor car technology to educational support for a small village, Lakewood, NY. 

Additional Information

Scope and Content Source:

This exhibit covers the life and endeavors of James Packard as well as those of his brother William, sister Alaska, wife Elizabeth, and father Warren. It highlights the accomplishments of these individuals as well as showcasing the philanthropic work that aided communities where they lived – notably Lakewood NY.

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