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COLLECTION Identifier: Arch AA 1.1 1942-1955

Dean's Office correspondence files (Donald Kirk David, Dean) Digital


Office files of the third dean of the Harvard Business School, Donald K. David. Also includes material from his predecesor, Wallace B. Donham.


  • Creation: 1943-1954


Language of Materials

Materials primarily in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. This collection requires a secondary registration form. Please contact for more information on access procedures and reproduction services.

Conditions Governing Use

Users must request reproductions of materials from this collection. No personal photography or scanning is allowed.


33.75 linear feet (81 boxes)

The correspondence of the third dean of the Harvard Business School is contained in 81 boxes, numbered 69 through 149. The collection is a continuation of the correspondence of the first and second deans, Edwin F. Gay and Wallace Brett Donham, whose boxes are numbered 1 through 8 and 6 through 69, respectively. Box 69 contains material from both Donham and David. The records of all three of these deans include correspondence by assistant deans, as the administration of the School was fairly small and organizationally straightforward.

The correspondence documents the major directions of HBS during World War Two and the early post-War period. They contain information about polices and activities as the School wrote to non-HBS people about such topics. Topics include the Wartime Schools and the re-establishment of the civilian MBA program, the creation of the Advanced Management Program, and the design and construction of Aldrich and Kresge Halls.

The David office filed correspondence alphabetically within years. The current David collection contains two sets of files which were merged in 1970: a regular alphabetic series and a series called (DKD). For the years 1943 to 1952, the files are intermingled. For the years 1953 to 1955, the files are in separate alphabetic series. The letters document major areas of interest to HBS which required written communication with people and companies outside HBS, and communications with the Harvard University administration.

This finding aid is supplemented by an extensive folder list and subject index created in 1986. On Hollis for Archival Discovery this can be found below under Digital Materials. Topics especially about the school have the notation "-HBS" after the index term. The first two volumes are the container list and the second two volumes are the index. The first volume also contains a guide to using the index.

This Scope and Contents note is adapted in part from the 1986 index to the collection.

Biographical / Historical

Donald K. David, a native of Moscow, Idaho, was born in 1896. A 1916 graduate of the University of Idaho, he enrolled in the Harvard Business School MBA program in 1917 and was hired by the Harvard Business School research staff upon graduation in 1919. He joined the School's teaching faculty soon thereafter as a marketing professor, helping to design the Retail Store Management course. David was promoted to Associate Professor of Marketing in 1926 and began participating in various administrative efforts within the school.

In 1927, at the insistence of his close friend and company founder, William Ziegler, David moved to New York City to assume the Vice Presidency of Royal Baking Powder Company. In 1932, Royal Baking Powder Company merged with Standard Foods and David was elected President of American Maize Company, a position he held until 1941. During this same year, he was appointed the William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, a position he had convinced Ziegler to fund in 1927. In 1941, David accepted the position of Assistant Dean under Dean Wallace Donham and he was appointed Dean upon Donham's retirement. As Dean, David oversaw the school's transition to wartime and the collaboration with the military to establish the Wartime Schools on campus. After the war, he managed the re-establishment of the civilian MBA program and the beginning of the Executive Education programs.

In addition to his duties at Harvard Business School, David worked as a consultant with many different companies, foundations and government committees. He served as an executive of Aluminum Limited, American Maize Products Company, the Federal Reserve Bank, Ford Motor Company, General Electric Company and Standard Brands. He was also on the boards of several foundations such as the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research and the Whitewall Foundation. Donald K. David was also a member of the Advisory Council for the Office of Civilian Requirements, a committee within the War Production Board and member of the Committee for Economic Development, for which he coauthored the paper, "How Big Will Our Post-War Markets Be?"

David retired as Dean of Harvard Business School in 1955.

Physical Location


Processing Information

Processed: 1980 and 1986 By: Baker Library Special Collections Staff.

Dean's Office Correspondence Files (Donald Kirk David, Dean), 1943-1954
Baker Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections and Archives, Harvard Business School Repository

Baker Library Special Collections and Archives holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

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