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Author Steven Fenberg Discusses the Story of Philanthropist Jesse H. Jones at the Second Saturday Event at the Houston Public Library’s Julia Ideson Building

WHO: Steven Fenberg, writer and producer of the Emmy Award-winning documentary film, “Brother, Can You Spare a Billion? The Story of Jesse H. Jones,” will give a presentation at the Houston Public Library (HPL) as part of its Second Saturday Events. Everyone is invited to hear Fenberg’s discussion on his new biography of Jesse Jones, “Unprecedented Power: Jesse Jones, Capitalism, and the Common Good.” This event is free and open to the public. For more details visit or call 832-393-1313.

WHERE: Houston Metropolitan Research Center located in the historical 1926 Julia Ideson Building (JIB) across the Plaza from the Central Library at 500 McKinney, 77002.

About the book
As the public and media continue to draw comparisons between actions taken by President Obama and those of the FDR administration, “Unprecedented Power” offers a timely perspective on government use of economic stimulus. According to Fenberg, Jesse Jones recognized that he would prosper only if his community thrived, a belief that directed him to combine capitalism and public service to strengthen his community, to restore the fortunes of his country and to ultimately save the nation. In writing “Unprecedented Power”Fenberg had unrestricted access to the collections of Houston Endowment — the philanthropic foundation established by Jesse and Mary Gibbs Jones in 1937, as well as to the archives of the Library of Congress, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, the Houston Public Library and an array of other sources.

About the author
Steven Fenberg has pursued a variety of projects to renew and preserve knowledge about Jesse Jones. He first wrote a biographical sketch about Jones in 1992 for Houston Endowment and was intrigued to discover that Jones had been the most powerful person in the nation next to President Franklin Roosevelt throughout FDR’s entire administration. Fenberg also discovered that Jones had initiated and managed many New Deal agencies that made substantial profits for the U.S. government, and that he began militarizing industry and amassing vital materials from around the globe 18 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fenberg subsequently assembled an extensive archive of Jones’s personal and business papers, created permanent exhibits about him that are now installed at Houston Endowment and Rice University, conducted an oral history program to interview those who knew Jones, and served as executive producer and writer on PBS’s Emmy Award-winning documentary film “Brother, Can You Spare a Billion? The Story of Jesse H. Jones,” narrated by Walter Cronkite.

Fenberg has been a consultant for the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma, and the DePelchin Children’s Center in Houston, both institutions relevant to Jones’s story. Fenberg currently produces Houston Endowment’s annual report and frequently makes presentations about Jesse Jones.

Previously, Fenberg wrote and produced “AIDS: Just Say Know,” a short and compelling educational play that was performed throughout greater Houston in theaters, community centers, churches, and synagogues, and as in-service training for teachers and law enforcement officials, when the disease was in its infancy and misinformation had instilled fear in many.

Fenberg has served on the advisory boards of the American Red Cross Museum in Washington, D.C., and No More Victims, an advocacy agency for children whose parents are in prison. While still in high school, he formed a social group for special needs teenagers and young adults at the Jewish Community Center of Houston that continues to meet today. He is currently on the advisory boards of AIDS Foundation Houston, the Houston History Association, and the Houston Historymagazine. Fenberg is a trustee of the Aubrey and Sylvia Farb Community Service Fund, and he served on Mayor Bill White’s task force on Houston’s history.

Fenberg graduated from The University of Texas in Austin in 1975 and was raised in Bellaire, Texas, a suburb of Houston. His family’s first store—Nolen Jewelry—was located in a downtown Houston building built and owned by Jesse Jones. As a child, Fenberg spent many happy hours at the store, exploring and enjoying downtown as if it were his backyard. Fenberg’s association with Jesse Jones thus did not begin in 1992; as for so many Houstonians of his generation, it began practically at the time of his birth.

About the Houston Public Library
The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 35 neighborhood libraries, three HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. Serving more than 4 million customers per year, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials, and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7. For further information, visit the Houston Public Library at or call 832-393-1313.


Sandra Fernandez
Manager of Public Relations
Houston Public Library
832.393.1381; cell 713.435.9448

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