Helen Hay Whitney
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Helen Hay Whitney

Helen Hay Whitney
Helen Hay Whitney by Frances Benjamin Johnston.jpg
Whitney photographed by Frances Benjamin Johnston
Helen Julia Hay

(1875-03-11)March 11, 1875[1]
United States
DiedSeptember 24, 1944(1944-09-24) (aged 69)
New York City, United States
OccupationPoet, author, racehorse owner/breeder, philanthropist
Political partyRepublican Party
Payne Whitney
(m. 1902; died 1927)
ChildrenJoan Whitney Payson
John Hay Whitney
Parent(s)John Milton Hay
Clara Louise Stone
RelativesAmasa Stone (grandfather)
Flora Stone Mather (aunt)

Helen Julia Hay Whitney (March 11, 1875 - September 24, 1944) was an American poet, writer, racehorse owner/breeder, socialite, and philanthropist. She was a member by marriage of the prominent Whitney family of New York.

Early life

She was the daughter of John Milton Hay (1838-1905),[2] who served as United States Secretary of State and the United States Ambassador to Great Britain,[3] and Clara Louise Stone (1849-1914). Her maternal grandfather was Cleveland multimillionaire railroad and banking mogul Amasa Stone (1818-1883).[4]


Helen Hay was a poet and an author of books for children. A number of her poems were published in Harper's Magazine.[5] One of her poems, Love of the Rose, was used in Leon Ardin's opera, Antony and Cleopatra (Act 2, no. 15).[6]Herbs And Apples (1910)[7] is a collection of poems that she published using what she had given for The Metropolitan Magazine and Collier's Weekly. "Songs and Sonnets," "Gypsy Verses" are also some of her works produced in such a manner. Several of her works have been republished in the 21st century.[3]

Helen Hay Whitney and her six-year-old son, John Hay Whitney (October 12, 1910)

Horse racing

After her husband's death in 1927, she managed Greentree, and Greentree Stable, and it continued to be a major force in Thoroughbred flat and steeplechase horse racing.[8][9][10] Her horses won the American Grand National steeplechase in 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1937. In flat racing, her horses won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1931 and 1942.[3]


The beneficiary of a large fortune on the death of her husband, Helen Whitney provided substantial funding to various causes and institutions including the Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale University.[11] In 1943, an ailing Helen Whitney and her daughter Joan created the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation which supports early postdoctoral research training in all basic biomedical sciences.[12]

Personal life

In 1902, she married Payne Whitney,[13] the son of William Collins Whitney (1841-1904) and Flora Payne (1842-1893).[14] Together, Helen and Payne had a daughter and a son:

The couple built a home at 972 Fifth Avenue in New York City designed by Stanford White. Helen Hay Whitney lived there until her death in 1944. The government of France acquired the property in 1952 and is part of the French Embassy in the United States. The Whitneys also owned a 438-acre (1.77 km2) estate in Manhasset, New York they called Greentree.[20]

Helen Whitney died in 1944 and as part of her bequests left the Metropolitan Museum of Art twenty-four objects consisting of paintings, ceramics, textiles, and furniture.[21]

See also


  1. ^ John Taliaferro (May 27, 2014). All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt. Simon and Schuster. pp. 166-. ISBN 978-1-4165-9734-6.
  2. ^ Gale, p. 125.
  3. ^ a b c "MRS. PAYNE WHITNEY DIES IN HOSPITAL, 68 | As Head of Greentree Stable Was Leading Woman Owner of the American Turf | WON DERBY IN 1931, 1942 | Former Helen Hay, Daughter Ex-Secretary of State - Husband Left $178,000,000". The New York Times. September 25, 1944. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ Kushner & Sherrill, pp. 67-68.
  5. ^ http://www.harpers.org/search.php?q=Helen%20Hay%20Whitney
  6. ^ "Antony and Cleopatra - Leon Ardin 1919".
  7. ^ "Herbs And Apples - by Helen Hay Whitney".
  8. ^ "PAYNE WHITNEY'S WILL AWAITS SON'S ARRIVAL; It Will Probably Be Read Next Saturday After Heir Returns From England". The New York Times. May 29, 1927. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ "MR. WHITNEY'S WILL". The New York Times. June 8, 1927. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ "The Whitney Handicap: a look at a treasured American family".
  11. ^ http://www.yaleherald.com/article.php?Article=4454[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Home Page - The Helen Hay Whitney Foundation".
  13. ^ Times, Special To The New York (February 5, 1902). "THE WHITNEY-HAY WEDDING". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ "Dorothy Elmhirst, a Founder of New Republic, Dies". The New York Times. December 16, 1968. Retrieved 2008. London, Dec. 15--Mrs. Dorothy Payne Whitney Straight Elmhirst, philanthropist, pioneer in progressive education and suffragist, died last night at Dartington Hall near ...
  15. ^ Durso, Joseph (October 5, 1975). "Joan Whitney Payson, 72, Mets Owner, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017.
  16. ^ "JOHN HAY WHITNEY DIES AT 77; PUBLISHER LED IN MANY FIELDS". The New York Times. February 9, 1982. Retrieved 2017.
  17. ^ "Payne Whitney's Son Arrives". The New York Times. June 4, 1927. Retrieved 2017.
  18. ^ Photo, Special To The New York Times times Wide World (September 26, 1930). "MARY ALTEMUS WED TO J. HAY WHITNEY; Philadelphia Girl Has Large Bridal Party at Marriage to New Yorker. SPECIAL TRAIN FOR COUPLE They Leave for Washington--Presents Received From Friends inMany Countries. Bride's Gown of Silver Cloth. Robert C. Benchley Best Man. Famous Manuscripts as Gifts. Bride a Horsewoman". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017.
  19. ^ "Mrs. Cushing Roosevelt Becomes Bride Here of John Hay Whitney; Former Wife of President's Eldest Son Wed to Wealthy Sportsman and Financier in a Simple Home Ceremony". The New York Times. March 2, 1942. Retrieved 2017.
  20. ^ "PAYNE WHITNEY DIES SUDDENLY AT HOME | Financier, 51, Stricken With Indigestion in Tennis Game at Manhasset, L.I. | WIFE SPEEDS TO HIM IN VAIN | He Succumbs in 25 Minutes - Wealth Put at $100,000,000 -- Noted as Sportsman". The New York Times. May 26, 1927. Retrieved 2017.
  21. ^ "FindArticles.com - CBSi".


External links

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