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COLLECTION Identifier: Arch GA 47

Edmund P. Learned papers


Writings, speeches, correspondence and consulting records of Harvard Business School Professor Edmund P. Learned.


  • 1927-1985


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored offsite; access requires advance notice. HBS Archives collections require a secondary registration form, please contact for more information.


4.5 linear feet (9 boxes)

Edmund P. Learned's insights into the nature of business operations and his attitudes about efficiency are revealed by his consulting files in the collection (primarily late 1940s and early 1950s), in which he interviewed executives and others at the firms for whom he consulted, and analyzed problems in corporate structure and operations (Series I). His notes on the Commodore Company (Series III) summarize systematically the firm's executive and supervisory relations.

Learned's speeches and writings explore his opinions on executive skills and efficient management, as well as national policies and their projected effects on business. Of special interest are Learned's extensive compilations of historical notes prepared for the Harvard Business School Archives at the request of Dean George Lombard, documenting aspects of Harvard Business School’s educational practices and programs between 1927 and 1967. Materials include Learned's retrospective looks at the Army Air Forces Statistical School, the course in Business Policy, and the course in Administrative Practices. Also of interest are Learned's unpublished memoirs of his career and personal relationships at Harvard Business School, "Forty Years Under Four Deans," and his account of duties performed for the military, "Headquarters Air Staff and Special Consulting Duties of Dr. Edmund P. Learned, 1942-1946." Additional historical notes focus on Dean Donham, management control, and marketing (Series III).

The collection includes one folder of course notes used by Learned in teaching General Management. There is very little correspondence in the collection, aside from several folders pertaining to the 1967 Leatherbee lectures.

The bulk of the material in the collection dates from 1945 to 1977, although some items were created as early as 1927, and Learned's Air Force memoirs were written around 1985.

Biographical Note:

Edmund Philip Learned (b. 1900) received the A.B. and A.M. in Economics from the University of Kansas in 1922 and 1925 respectively, and the MBA and Doctor of Commercial Science degrees from Harvard Business School in 1927 and 1930. He taught economics and retailing at the University of Kansas from 1922-1925 and at Simmons College from 1928-1933. He was Professor of Marketing at HBS (1927-1945), Professor of Business Administration (1945-1960), and Professor of Business Policy (1960-1967). Learned also taught at the Management Development Institute (IMEDE) at Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1961-1962, and was a consultant to the Army Air Forces and U.S. Air Force from 1942-1952, helping to establish the Army Air Forces Statistical School during World War II at HBS. He also served as a consultant to many private firms in the 1940s and 1950s.

Learned's major fields of interest were: Business strategy and policy; planning; and management organization, motivation, and control. He took historical interest in a number of areas, and compiled notes and memoirs on changes in HBS education, as well as on his role as a consultant for the national defense.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

  1. Series I. Consulting Records, 1946-1977
  2. Series II. General, 1928-1975
  3. Series III. Speeches and Writings, 1927-1970
  4. ___Subseries A. Speeches, 1949-1964
  5. ___Subseries B. Writings, General, 1927-1970
  6. ___Subseries C. Writings, Historical Notes and Memoirs, 1932-1985

Physical Location


Related Collections Note

Interested researchers should also refer to the following additional collections in the Harvard Business School Archives: Army Air Forces Statistical School Records (Arch EA80.4); and Learned's doctoral dissertation (T2 SLMB L438).

Processing Information

Processed: November 2006

By: Dominique Tremblay

Processing Note

Materials for the collection were brought together from a number of locations. The documents were organized into series, and refoldered and reboxed after removal of binders and paper clips. Obsolete catalog cards were removed from the catalog. Many pages of Learned's historical notes contained original documents taped into place either as part of the narrative or as corroborative or illustrative accompaniment. A substantial amount of conservation photocopying was done on this portion of the collection. Photocopies on acid-neutral paper were incorporated into the collection and placed with originals

Learned, Edmund Philip. Edmund Philip Learned Papers, 1927-1985: A Finding Aid
Baker Library
Language of description

Repository Details

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

Baker Library Special Collections 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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