Guide to the Research Collections



Extensive resources on commerce form a strong collection, including good holdings of publications on business abroad, as indicated by the fact that the Public Catalog contains about 900 entries under the heading "Commerce, Foreign" and more than 23,000 under "Commerce," subdivided by country. Of the latter group approximately 2,400 refer to Great Britain and 6,400 to the United States. General materials include large

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collections of publications of organizations such as the Committee for Economic Development and the National Industrial Conference Board. Several types of special material strengthen the resources in this area. Chamber of commerce publications form one such group: American and foreign organizations, chiefly those in cities of commercial importance, are represented, although the sets of titles discontinued a number of years ago are now chiefly of historical interest. Among the cities abroad for which the library has especially full files are Adelaide, Algiers, Bombay, Le Havre, London and Zurich; many additional cities are represented for shorter time spans. The collection also includes publications of American chambers of commerce in such foreign countries as Brazil, France, Japan, the Philippines, and Spain, and of foreign organizations in other countries such as the British Chamber of Commerce in Argentina and the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in France.

Holdings of house organs compose another important group. The collection contains about 1,600 titles, of which approximately 400 are currently received. The fact that many house organs ceased publication during the depression or war years explains, in part, the difference between the two figures. The library attempts to obtain only those publications containing material of substantive value; it does not collect those dealing chiefly or exclusively with news of company personnel. On the whole, the sets which are complete from the first volume and which extend over many years represent large American corporations in a variety of industries, among them the Chase Manhattan Bank, Chicago Tribune, Kaiser Aluminum, Norfolk and Western Railroad, and U.S. Steel; in some instances the collections contain the publications of more than one division--DuPont, Eastman Kodak, and General Electric are examples. Perhaps 10 or 15 percent of the total titles come from foreign companies, chiefly British, although there is a small number of magazines from Germany and Japan and one or two from each of a dozen other countries.

The publications of university schools of commerce and business administration, both serial and monographic, form another important class of materials in the resources on commerce. Examples of institutions represented include Harvard, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North-western, Ohio State, Pennsylvania, and Stanford. The publications encompass studies from bureaus or institutes of business research, lecture series, entrepreneurial histories, proceedings and papers of conferences and symposia, and bibliographical compilations. Finally, long files of trade and commercial directories, both domestic and foreign, constitute another valuable holding. An interesting collection is a complete set of the catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Company.

Resources on the South Sea Company form a substantial block of material, although they do not rival in extent the Bancroft collection at Harvard University's Kress Library.3 About 250 entries in the Public Catalog represent both eighteenth-century and later publications. More than 130 items compose the former group, which begins in 1711 with such titles as Daniel Defoe's True State of the Case between the Government, and the Creditors of the Navy, Herman Moll's View of the Coasts, Countries and Islands within the Limits of the South-Sea-Company, and A True State of The South-Sea-Scheme. Holdings are well distributed over the remainder of the century, and for several titles the library possesses one of only a few known copies. Of modern publications are monographs like John Carswell's The South Sea Bubble (1960) and articles which have appeared in such serials as Journal of Economic and Business History, Political Science Quarterly, and Hispanic American Historical Review. The Prints Division has a collection of over 100 caricatures and broadsides dealing with the South Sea and Mississippi Companies. The largest number are Dutch, followed by English and French materials; many date from 1710 to 1720. The Research Libraries contain more than 200 publications by and about the Hudson's Bay Company. They include its annual report since the turn of the century (with some gaps), published documents from the British Colonial Office, legal materials on the boundaries of Ontario, and accounts of early life in northern Canada.

Of the special phases of business literature not already mentioned, accounting has probably received most attention. The Research Libraries have acquired the standard bibliographies and indexes and some foreign, as well as the most important American, journals on the topic. The publications of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and of some state societies are present, while a group of early American accounting and bookkeeping titles forms a small but interesting historical assemblage. Publications on auditing, cost accounting, depreciation, and accounting for special industries (e.g., agriculture, automobiles, corporations, hotels, petroleum) are also available.

For other phases of business and commerce the Research Libraries collect more selectively. In the area of sales literature substantial holdings on special fields such as real estate or retail trade complement general publications on salesmanship and the psychology of selling; also included are many titles of the self-help variety, but on the whole little foreign language material. Resources on personnel cover not only current domestic and foreign practices but are also useful in tracing their evolution. There has been no attempt to assemble a strong collection on business education, but some publications on this subject are held.

Although the Manuscripts and Archives Division does not actively collect records of modern corporations, it has a considerable amount of material on the merchants and entrepreneurs of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Among the manuscript groups of substantial size are the following: 18 mercantile account books relating mainly to the general business affairs of the Van Cortlands and other merchants and ranging in date between 1700 and 1839; a large quantity of land papers, ledgers, account books, and other material from about 1780 to the late nineteenth century from various members of the Gansevoort family,4 papers, account books, and shipping papers (1774-1803) of William Constable, Revolutionary War officer, merchant, and land promoter

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(25 volumes and 31 boxes),5 papers, letters, accounts, land papers, maps, memoranda, etc. of Isaac Bronson (1760-1838) and of his sons, Arthur, Fredric, and Oliver on their business activities in banking, and speculation and promotion of westward expansion from about 1796 to 1868 (207 boxes); personal and mercantile account books, (1830-70) of William E. Dodge (2 boxes), and papers (1818-59) of Phelps and Peck--later Phelps, Dodge and Company (30 boxes); papers, ledgers, and other financial records of Moses Taylor, of his firm, Moses Taylor and Company, and of other commercial undertakings with which he was associated, covering the period from 1832 to 1888 (approximately 1,100 volumes and 200 cartons of unbound papers);6 and a great many additional letters, order books, and financial records (usually in small quantities for individual merchants and their firms) from the end of the eighteenth to the twentieth century from such New York City organizations as Brown Brothers,7 Gouverneur and Kemble, Hill and Ogden, Willets and Seamans, Seth Low and Company, Lott and Troup, Nevins and Company, and Fisher, Blashfield and Company. In addition, the Manuscripts and Archives Division keeps together account books of individual merchants and firms which are unrelated to larger manuscript groups (the majority of such holdings date from the nineteenth century). Among them the Virginia group (approximately 81 volumes) consists of the records (1770-1877) of the general merchants successively known as Hooe, Stone and Company, Jenifer and Hooe, Hooe and Harrison, Robert T. Hooe and Company, Lawrason and Fowle, and William Fowle and Son. There are numerous account books from New York, but such other states as California, Illinois, Indiana, and Massachusetts are also represented.8 Additional materials are noted in the description of Manuscripts and Archives Division resources.