Helen Miller Gould
Helen Miller Gould was an American philanthropist that gave not only of her money, but also of herself, to the work of relieving distress and making the world a better place. She achieved extended fame through her benefactions for charitable and educational uses. Helen earned the friendship of those she helped by giving her personal compassion and intelligent interest with her gifts of money.
Helen Miller Gould was born in New York City, the eldest daughter of the famous financier, Jay Gould. She was educated by private instructors under the careful eye of her father. So that she might have a knowledge of business for the management of her own affairs, her father enrolled her in the New York Law University. In 1913, Helen married Finley J. Shepard.
As previously mentioned, Helen was very generous with her money. At one time she gave $250,000 for the Library of the University of the City of New York, and followed that with another $60,000 at a later time. For the St. Louis cyclone sufferers in 1896, she donated
$100,000. Rutgers, Vassar, and Mount Holyoke Colleges all received generous gifts as well as the Engineering School of the University of the City of New York. The Naval Branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association near Brooklyn Navy Yard received $50,000 and
Miss Gould gave “Woody Crest”, a home for crippled children $150,000 (Adleman, Famous Women, p. 309).
When the Windsor Hotel, opposite her home in New York, was burned, she, herself, ministered to the firemen and others in the rescue work. The firemen showed their deep gratitude by preparing an address and sending it by the hands of a committee of ten, representing a constituency of more than eighteen hundred.
One project of Helen’s that was interesting, if not really charitable, was the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, which is still found on the campus of Bronx Community College, which is part of the City University of New York. Located in University Heights, the campus was originally part of the uptown campus of New York University. Helen provided the original funding for this memorial and set some conditions regarding who might be admitted. Helen’s condition was that only people that had been dead ten years or more were to be eligible. The time period was extended to 25 years in 1922. Even though 50 names were to be inscribed in 1900, only 29 were elected from more than 1,000 nominations. Being in this Hall of Fame was a great honor.
Perhaps Helen’s greatest work was her patriotic efforts during the Spanish-American War. At the outbreak of the war with Spain she gave $100,000 to the United States Government for relief of the soldiers at Camp Wycoff, Long Island. On December 5, 1898, General Joseph Wheeler, through Congressman Stallings, introduced in the House a bill providing that, in recognition of the patriotic devotion and bounteous benevolence of Miss Gould to the soldiers of the Unites States during the Spanish-American War, the thanks of Congress be offered and an appropriate medal be prepared, the same to be presented to Helen by the President..