Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: Arch GA 46

Henrietta Larson papers

This collections contains correspondence and teaching records of Henrietta Larson.


  • 1947-1962

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. HBS Archives collections require a secondary registration form, please contact for more information.


1 linear feet (2 boxes)

The collection consists of correspondence, teaching materials, and Business History Foundation records kept by Henrietta Larson. Correspondence in this collection is related to publishing projects, manuscript reviews, speaking engagements, and Japanese scholars of business history, among other topics. Teaching materials include lectures and lecture notes for Business History courses. Business History Foundation records contain correspondence related to the history of the Standard Oil Company, publications, finances, and general activities.

Biographical Note:

Henrietta Melia Larson was born on September 24, 1894 in Ostrander, Minnesota. She graduated from St. Olaf’s College in Northfield, Minnesota in 1918. After teaching high school for a year, she entered the graduate program at Columbia University. She received an MA in sociology in 1920 and decided to pursue her PhD in history. After passing her general examinations in 1921, Larson returned to the Midwest to teach and research her dissertation on wheat marketing. She spent two years at the University of Minnesota where she met HBS professor Norman S.B. Gras. After receiving her PhD in 1926, she joined the faculty of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

In 1928, N.S.B. Gras invited Larson to join his newly developed Business History program at Harvard Business School. Larson accepted the offer and came to Harvard as a research assistant. Throughout the 1930s she and Gras worked to establish the discipline of business history. With Gras, she co-authored Casebook in American Business History (1939) which was the first book assembled on the subject and served as a catalyst for the introduction of business history courses at other schools. Larson also aided Gras in forming the Business History Foundation, Inc. in 1947 where she was elected a Trustee and Treasurer of the Foundation. The Foundation’s original project was a written History of Standard Oil. Larson eventually became the chief editor of this project, and co-authored two of the four volumes. She was also editor of The Bulletin of the Business History Society, Inc. from 1938-1953, and editor of Harvard Studies in Business History from 1948 to 1962. Among her many publications, Larson prepared the Guide to Business History (1948), a monumental compilation of 5,000 references to Business History.

Larson was the first female faculty member at the Harvard Business School. She was appointed Assistant Professor in 1936, Associate Professor in 1942 and Professor in 1961. Larson officially retired from the Harvard Business School in 1961, but at the School’s request she stayed until 1962. She received the School’s Distinguished Service Award on Alumni Day in 1979. She also received an honorary doctorate from St. Olaf’s College in 1943.

Larson was on the Board of Trustees of the University Lutheran Church Cambridge and the Board of the Boston Branch of the American Association of University Women. Henrietta Larson died on August 26, 1983 in Northfield, Minnesota.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:
  1. Series I. Correspondence, 1954-1962
  2. Series II. Teaching Materials, 1947-1954
  3. Series III. Business History Foundation, 1959-1962
  4. Series IV. Restricted Correspondence, 1959-1961 (Closed until 2041)

Related Materials

For more information related to the history of Standard Oil, please refer to the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin in their ExxonMobil History Collection.

Processing Information

Processed: 1999

By: Sean Perrone
Link to catalog
Larson, Henrietta, 1894-1983. Henrietta Larson Papers, 1947-1962: A Finding Aid
Baker Library

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.

Baker Library | Bloomberg Center
Soldiers Field Road
Boston MA 01263 USA
(617) 495-6411