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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:881 1912-1915 D578

Herman L. Dillingham papers


The Herman L. Dillingham papers consist of scrapbooks and photograph albums collected by Dillingham, while traveling through South America during his tenure as the assistant secretary to the Boston Chamber of Commerce.


  • Creation: 1912-1915


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact for more information.


7.5 linear feet (7 boxes)

The collection consists of two scrapbooks, two photograph albums, and a variety of supplemental materials collected by Herman L. Dillingham during his tenure as assistant secretary of the Boston Chamber of Commerce. The majority of the collection documents the 1913 Boston Chamber of Commerce trade delegation trip to South America. The materials date from 1913 to 1915.

The two scrapbooks contain postcards, invitations, menus, brochures, photographs, and other souvenirs that Dillingham collected during the 1913 South American tour. The scrapbooks follow the chronology of the tour: Scrapbook No. 1 documents the tour from the Boston departure until the arrival in Santiago, Chile; Scrapbook No. 2 begins with the Trans-Andean Rail Road journey and ends with the return to New York. Herman Dillingham’s 1913 United States passport is pasted in the front of Scrapbook No. 1.

The two photograph albums contain snapshots of the 1913 South American trip, probably taken by Dillingham himself. The first album contains 233 photographs on sixty pages; the second album contains 289 photographs on seventy-three pages. Like the scrapbooks, the photograph albums are a travelogue of the trip. The photographs show the members of the delegation aboard ship and during their many stops on the tour. The snapshots depict village and city street scenes, railroads, harbors, factories, plantations and other agricultural operations in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Notable photographs include scenes of the Panama Canal under construction, ancient Inca ruins in Peru, and views of the Trans-Andean Railway between Chile and Argentina.

The collection also contains supplemental materials concerning the South American tour, including promotional brochures, Dillingham’s typewritten diary and report, and a series of twelve articles written by Dillingham for Weekly Auto News from November 1913 to February 1914. Finally, the collection includes a few other items that Dillingham received during his years at the Boston Chamber of Commerce, such as programs and ribbons from the Fifth International Congress of Chambers of Commerce, held in Boston in 1912.

Biographical Note:

Herman Louis Dillingham (1886-1958), a 1909 graduate of Dartmouth College, was an assistant secretary to the Boston Chamber of Commerce from 1912 to 1914. As assistant secretary, Dillingham helped to plan a variety of trips and tours for members of the chamber.

In 1913, Herman Dillingham, then twenty-six years old, was appointed secretary of a Boston Chamber of Commerce trade delegation that toured South America. The construction of Panama Canal was nearly complete, and the organizers of the trip proposed that “our manufacturers and merchants should therefore begin now to prepare themselves for this expected trade stimulus by personally learning the needs of the people of Latin America and their methods of doing business.” Mr. Dillingham helped to organize the trip and recruit the members of the trade delegation. On April 24, 1913, the delegation boarded the United Fruit Company steamer S.S. Metapan at Boston and embarked on a three-month voyage to South America. After a brief stop at Kingston, Jamaica, the group traveled to Panama, where they inspected the new canal. On May 4, the thirty-eight members of the official delegation boarded the S.S. Guatemala, a Pacific Steam and Navigation Company steamer, for the trip down the Pacific coast of South America.

The Bostonians visited several ports along the Peruvian coast before arriving at Lima, Peru on May 12, 1913. Local dignitaries greeted the delegation with welcoming speeches, and a marching band accompanied the party to its hotel. The delegates met with local politicians, business leaders, and American diplomats. Over the course of several days, the Boston businessmen toured mines, factories, farms, and other local sights. The Peruvians held numerous receptions, banquets, and concerts in honor of their northern visitors. The Lima visit was typical the entire tour; the Boston delegation was received in a similar fashion in each city it visited.

The delegation left Lima on May 16, and the members spent the next ten days visiting several towns high in the Peruvian Andes. The group toured Inca ruins and sailed across Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. They crossed the Andes by train and arrived at La Paz, Bolivia, on May 26, 1913. The Bostonians visited the cities of Antofagasta, Valparaiso, and Santiago, Chile, before traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina, via the Trans-Andean Rail Road. On June 17, the delegates sailed for Montevideo, Uruguay, which Herman Dillingham described as “the Boston of South America.” The final country on the itinerary was Brazil. The group arrived at the port of Santos, Brazil, then visited Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, and Bahia. On July 7, the Boston delegation embarked for home aboard the S. S. Vassari. After brief stops at the British West Indies islands of Trinidad and Barbados, they sailed into New York Harbor on July 23, 1913, and returned to Boston by train.

Upon his return, Herman Dillingham worked to publicize the Boston Chamber of Commerce delegation’s efforts. Dillingham made speeches to other chambers of commerce about the opportunities for trade with South America. He also authored a lengthy travelogue entitled “Twentieth Century South America,” which was published in twelve installments in Weekly Auto News from November 1913 to February 1914. Dillingham left his position with the Boston Chamber of Commerce in 1914.

Physical Location



Gift, 2002

Related Material

Baker Library also holds the records of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, 1872-1949 (Mss: 881 1872-1949).

A small, published volume of souvenir photographs was removed from the collection and cataloged separately: Squier, Albert Leonard. Boston Chamber of Commerce South American tour photographs by Albert Leonard Squier. [Newtonville, Mass.] The Photographer [c1913]. Baker Old Class AAR 764B S773 (HOLLIS no. 006656399)

Processing Information

Processed: May 2004

By: Timothy J. Mahoney

Processing Note:

The collection was rehoused in appropriate archival boxes and folders. The scrapbooks and photograph albums were treated and cleaned by a professional conservator to remove inactive mold contamination.

Dillingham, Herman L., 1886-1958. Herman L. Dillingham papers, 1912-1915 (inclusive): A Finding Aid
Baker Library
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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