Industrial Life Photograph Collection
Conditions Governing Access
54 linear feet (58 boxes)
The majority of the photographs are accompanied by captions written by the donor company. The information provided varies from a single line to extensive descriptions, including specifications for machinery. Most of the photographs were originally produced for use in publicity documents such as annual reports, picture books, and advertisements. The photographs were therefore controlled images, selected by the company to show its business in the best possible light.
The photographs are arranged by an industry number derived from the Industries List of the Baker Library Classification of Business Literature, followed by a Cutter number based on the name of the company. Related industries are grouped together to create twenty-six series, also derived from the Classification of Business Literature. For example, the Bethlehem Steel Company is listed as Steel industry, Group # :301 B563 in Series II, Mining and metallurgy industries. Each group list includes the company name, its industry and group number, a brief description of the photographs, and the date of gift. The names of any photographers appearing on the photographs are also included. The photographer may not be responsible for all images in a group.
A wide range of businesses, from automobile manufacturers to paper mills, contributed photographs. Typically, Ayres requested specific images that he found published either in a company’s promotional materials in Fortune magazine. Ayres also made an effort to contact companies that exhibited at the Century of Progress International Exposition, the world's fair held in Chicago, Illinois, in 1933. Many of the companies that listed as exhibitors in the Official Guide Book of the Fair sent photographs to the Business Historical Society.
Professor Donald Hills Davenport, Associate Professor of Business Statistics at the Harvard Business School, also played a key role in the growth of the photograph collection. Professor Davenport collected photographs that illustrated the human factor in industry. Davenport’s guiding purpose was building a foundation for better understanding of industrial relations, as he believed most students had only a vague concept of manpower in industry. Like Frank Ayres, Davenport acquired photographs from specific companies and from Fortune magazine.
Donor companies typically sent groups of photographs that illustrated their activities during the 1920s and early 1930s. Most of the photographs arrived in 1933 and 1934. In the March 1932 (Vol. VI, No. 2) and May 1934 (Vol. VIII, No. 3) issues, the Bulletin of the Business Historical Society published articles describing the photographs and their use at Harvard Business School. By 1936, Frank Ayres stopped actively collecting photographs for the Business Historical Society. The number of incoming photographs declined, although donations were received until the early 1940s.
- Series I. Agricultural industries
- Series II. Mining and metallurgy industries
- Series III. Manufacturing industries – animal products (non-edible)
- Series IV. Manufacturing industries – foods and beverages
- Series V. Manufacturing industries – textiles
- Series VI. Manufacturing industries - paper
- Series VII. Metal manufacturing industries
- Series VIII. Machinery manufacturing industries
- Series IX. Automobile manufacturing
- Series X. Railroad equipment manufacturing
- Series XI. Handling and conveying machinery manufacturing
- Series XII. Air transportation equipment manufacturing
- Series XIII. Electrical power generation and transmission equipment and electrical appliance manufacturing
- Series XIV. Specialized metal manufacturing
- Series XV. Non-metallic mineral manufacturing
- Series XVI. Manufacture of chemicals and chemical manufacturing
- Series XVII. Rubber products manufacturing
- Series XVIII. Leather manufacturing
- Series XIX. Mixed manufacturing
- Series XX. Printing and publishing industry
- Series XXI. Recreation industries
- Series XXII. Engineering and building construction
- Series XXIII. Land transportation services
- Series XXIV. Air transportation services
- Series XXV. Communication services
- Series XXVI. Marketing services
By: Maggie Hale
Some donors sent publications such as company picture books or other advertising materials along with the photographs. These related materials were physically separated from the photographs. Manuscript materials are housed in Box 58.
- Beverage industry -- Photographs.
- Electric power plant equipment industry--Photographs.
- Food industry and trade--Photographs.
- Industrial equipment industry--Photographs.
- LinkAutomobile industry and trade--Photographs.
- Machinery industry--Photographs.
- Manufacturing industries--Photographs.
- Manufacturing processes--Photographs.
- Photography of automobiles.
- Railroad equipment industry--Photographs.
- Research, Industrial--Laboratories--Photographs.
- Steel industry--Photographs.
- Textile industry--Photographs.
- Textile machinery industry--Photographs.
- Business Historical Society. Industrial Life Photograph Collection, ca. 1920-1941: A Finding Aid
- Baker Library
- EAD ID
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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