Biography and History

John E. Rovensky (1880-1970) was a banker and economist. As a banker, he held the position of vice president at the National Bank of Commerce, Bank of America, and City Bank. As an economist, he was a member of the Economists' National Committee on Monetary Policy, the National Monetary Association, and the Stable Money Association. He also held positions at American Car & Foundry.

Rovensky was born in 1880 near New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada to a recently immigrated Austro-Hungarian glassmaker. In 1885, the family moved to Allegheny, Pennsylvania and again to Jeanette, Pennsylvania in 1893. Rovensky dropped out of high school at age 16, after contracting tuberculosis. Rovensky married Madjesia Ewing in 1904. They were separated in 1935 and divorced in 1947. He was married again in 1954, to socialite Mrs. Maisie Cadwell Manwaring Plant Hayward, who died in 1956.

Rovensky's first job was as an errand boy at the First National Bank of Pittsburgh in 1900. He was steadily promoted, eventually becoming assistant cashier. During this period, Rovensky studied at the American Institute of Banking. The Institute gave young men the opportunity to study economics, business, business law, and accounting with professors from the University of Western Pennsylvania (now University of Pittsburgh). Rovensky eventually become president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Institute. In June of 1913, the Pittsburgh branch of the First National Bank temporarily closed and, within a day, Rovensky opened a bank nearby to handle the bank's customers during the hiatus.

Rovensky was hired in early 1914 as assistant cashier in charge of foreign trade at the prestigious National Bank of Commerce in New York City. Here he created one of the first dollar banker's acceptance import credit under the new Federal Reserve Act at the onset of World War I. Within two years, Rovensky became the vice president, which made him the youngest vice president of a New York bank at age 35. In 1926, Rovensky was a candidate for president of the bank. Stevenson Ward was given the job however, and Rovensky, dissatisfied with Ward’s leadership, moved to Bank of America. He was later appointed vice chairman of that firm. In 1931, National City Bank absorbed Bank of America, but Rovensky, unlike his Bank of America colleagues, retained his position as vice chairman.

From 1920 to 1933, Rovensky played a major role in three associations which advocated monetary stabilization: the Economists' National Committee on Monetary Policy, the National Monetary Association, and the Stable Money Association. He was president of the Stable Money Association in 1927.

In 1944, faced with compulsory retirement at National City Bank, Rovensky became chairman of the executive committee of the American Car and Foundry. He had served on the board of directors since 1940. In 1951, he became chairman of the board. At the behest of his fiancée, Maisie Cadwell, he retired in 1954 and spent the remaining years of his life in Newport, Rhode Island, Manhattan, and Palm Springs. Rovensky died February 18, 1970.

For additional information on the life of John E. Rovensky, see the biography written by Donald L. Kemmerer: The Life of John E. Rovensky: Banker and Industrialist: from the Gilded Age to the Atomic Age (1977).

Source: From the finding aid for MC116

  • John E. Rovensky Papers. 1920-1968 (inclusive), 1920-1929 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC116

    John E. Rovensky (1880-1970) was a banker and economist. As a banker, he held the position of vice president at the National Bank of Commerce, Bank of America, and City Bank. As an economist, he was a member of the Economists' National Committee on Monetary Policy, the National Monetary Association, and the Stable Money Association. Rovensky's papers document his work as an economist, including his tenure as president of the Stable Money Association in 1927. The papers are comprised of correspondence, offprints, and newspaper clippings.

  • John E. Rovensky Papers. 1920-1968 (inclusive), 1920-1929 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC116

    John E. Rovensky (1880-1970) was a banker and economist. As a banker, he held the position of vice president at the National Bank of Commerce, Bank of America, and City Bank. As an economist, he was a member of the Economists' National Committee on Monetary Policy, the National Monetary Association, and the Stable Money Association. Rovensky's papers document his work as an economist, including his tenure as president of the Stable Money Association in 1927. The papers are comprised of correspondence, offprints, and newspaper clippings.