The Whiting Foundation was created by Flora Ettlinger Whiting, a New York investor, collector, and philanthropist with a lifelong commitment to culture.
She was a founding member of the Friends of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a member of the board of the noted magazine company Crowell-Collier, which published authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Martha Gellhorn, H. L. Mencken, and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
Mrs. Whiting was known for her keen eye in matters aesthetic and financial. Speaking of her pioneering appreciation for American decorative art, the New York Times praised her as "a great collector." As one peer noted with envy, "She would always spot the best thing in a shop instantly." The distinctive works she assembled were later donated to or otherwise acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Yale University Art Gallery. In business, her carefully-selected investments were equally discerning: impressed by the work of Thomas Watson, she was an early investor in the company that later became IBM. Ultimately, her careful money management allowed her to endow the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation with $10 million on her death in 1971.
The Foundation has endeavored to honor Mrs. Whiting's astute judgment and her love of the arts and humanities in all our grantmaking. We believe in identifying and empowering talented people as early as possible in their creative and intellectual development to leverage our resources and provide far-reaching benefits for our society. Our first program was the Whiting Dissertation Fellowship. Between 1973 and 2015, these grants enabled thousands of promising early-career humanities scholars to work undistractedly on completing their dissertations. In 1985, the Foundation launched another major program, the Whiting Awards, to provide a similar service to writers. This $50,000 award is given annually to ten emerging authors of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama, allowing them to devote themselves fully to writing for a year. 2016 saw the announcement of the first cohort of the Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship, a new core humanities program designed to bring the fruits of scholarship to a wider public in a variety of media.
Throughout the Foundation's history, we have developed new programs and refined existing ones to serve the humanities and literature as effectively as possible. We continue to evolve as grantmakers at a time of significant change for the structures that have traditionally supported writers and scholars, extending Flora Whiting's founding commitments into a new millennium.