Charles D. Orth III’s expertise in 19th-century business and economic history was an invaluable asset in the early days of the Diary Project. Utilizing Dun & Bradstreet Reports and other tools of the trade, Orth provided thorough analyses of the financial climate in which Steinway & Sons and competitors Albert Weber, Chickering & Sons, and Joseph P. Hale operated.
His insight also allowed for deeper understanding of the numerous financial crises that occur throughout the Diary, notably the 1873 Financial Panic.
During his tenure, Orth was especially interested in William’s marketing skills and the success he built upon brother C. F. Theodore’s inventions. "Because Steinway pianos were above the rest of the lot, William could get such pianists as Paderewski and Rubinstein to use them,”" he explained in a January 1990 interview in the Smithsonian publication, The Torch. “William would book these musicians on well-publicized concert tours around the country and abroad. Then, through his quarterly pricing circulars, he would inform piano dealers that so-and-so was using a Steinway.” Orth worked to quantify information found in the circulars, including discounts that William gave to Steinway & Sons dealers.
Charles Orth was born in Manila and raised in New York City. He served in the Army Transportation Corps during World War II and earned an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School in 1952. He was assistant professor of organizational behavior and assistant dean of alumni affairs at the school for 16 years. In 1968 he became a consultant in management and the development of careers for executives, retiring in the Washington, DC area in 1985. Orth was authored and co-authored several books, including Organizational Behavior and Administration, Managers and Scientists: Some Human Problems in Industrial Research Organizations, and Social Structures and Learning Climate: The First Year at the Harvard Business School. Orth spent his later years in North Carolina, passing away in Wilmington in 2000.