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The Gilded Age "The 400" A List of New York Elite Society Members,1870-1910.

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The Four Hundred was a list of New York society during the Gilded Age, a group that was led by Caroline Schermerhorn Astor, the "Mrs. Astor", for many years. After her death, her role in society was filled by three women: Mamie Fish, Theresa Fair Oelrichs, and Alva Belmont,known as the "triumvirate" of American society.Establishment.Aided by McAllister, Mrs. Astor attempted to codify proper behavior and etiquette, as well as determine who was acceptable among the arrivistes, as champions of old money and tradition.

On February 16, 1892, The New York Times published the "official" list of those included in the Four Hundred as dictated by social arbiter Ward McAllister, Mrs. Astor's friend and confidant, The list, purported to include the crème de la crème of New York society, consisted largely of "bankers, lawyers, brokers, real estate men, and railroaders, with one editor), one publisher, one artist, and two architects."

It also included a mix of both "Nobs" and "Swells", terms coined by McAllister. "Nobs" came from old money and "Swells" were representatives of the nouveau riche, who Mrs. Astor felt, begrudgingly, were able to partake in "polite" society.

Excluded† were outstanding prominent members of the Jewish faith of equal and often greater wealth.

"Nobs" (Old Money) Families:

  • Byrd Family * Randolph Family * Lowell family * Astor family * Hartwick family
  • Carter Family * Roosevelt Family * Du Pont family * Harrison Family * Pitcairn family
  • Lindsey Family * Cabot Family * Forbes family * Griswold Family * Van Leer family
  • Whitney Family * Fish Family * Livingston Family * Cooke Family * Duke Family
  • Mellon Family * Donnelley family * Cargill family * Cruger Family
  • Rhinelander Family * Hamilton Family * Schuyler family * Robinson Family * Green Family
  • Van Rensselaer * Van Cortlandt * Bayard family * Stuyvesant family * Kean Family
  • Bush Family * Morris Family * Kane Family * Van Buren Family †† * Schermerhorn Family
  • Delancey family *Hecksher Family

†† variant spelling = van Beuren

"Swells" (New Money/Nouveau Riche/Baron Robbers) Families:


Current (or passing) Interest

  • HBO 'Series: The Gilded Age 2022- (unfinished, one season completed as of 2022)
  • The Custom of the Country, Edith Wharton’s strikingly modern 1913 novel about a ruthless social climber
    • "The Saturday Review wrote that (Wharton) had ‘assembled as many detestable people as it is possible to pack between the covers of a six-hundred page novel’, but concluded that the book was ‘brilliantly written’, and ‘should be read as a parable’. It follows the career of Undine Spragg, recently arrived in New York from the midwest and determined to conquer high society."

Period Newspaper Articles