Biography of Martha Frick Symington Sanger

Martha Frick Symington Sanger has spent the past twenty years researching her Frick family and its contributions to industry, art, philanthropy and the cities that family members called home.  Her first biography focused on the life, accomplishments and controversies of Henry Clay Frick, her great-grandfather (“Henry Clay Frick: An Intimate Portrait,” Abbeville Press 1998).

Her research yielded a second book, The Henry Clay Frick Houses: Architecture-Interiors-Landscapes In the Golden Era, published by the Monacelli Press in 2001, that captured in great detail the homes Frick built in Pittsburgh, New York and Boston’s North Shore. 

Ms. Sanger’s third book, Helen Clay Frick:  Bittersweet Heiress, (University of Pittsburgh Press 2007), is the first biography documenting the life and contributions of her great-aunt, an important, private and sometimes tempestuous leader in the fields of art history, art collecting, land and historic preservation, and women’s issues. 

In 1991, she served as an advisor for the introductory video of the New York Frick Collection and exhibitions at Clayton (now a house museum at the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh,) and has also been instrumental in widening the use of the family papers and art history materials contained in the voluminous Frick archives.

In 1995, Ms. Sanger served as a consultant and was interviewed on-camera for the two-hour PBS documentary on Andrew Carnegie, “Richest Man in the World,” produced by WGBH.  On-camera interviews also include segments on BBC Scotland’s “The Great Scots,” and The History Channel’s “Ten Days That Shaped America.”

Ms. Sanger received additional acclaim for her biography of her great-grandfather in August 2007, when it was cited by Carnegie Corporation president Vartan Gregorian in the Wall Street Journal as one of the “five best” books detailing the lives and contributions of great philanthropists in America’s gilded age.

Martha Frick Symington Sanger lives in Stevenson, Maryland.  She has three daughters  and five grandchildren. 

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