R.G. Dun & Company credit report volumes
Credit reports created during the nineteenth century by America's first commercial reporting agency. The 2,522 volumes of handwritten credit reports cover individuals and firms and include information on the duration of the business, net worth, sources of wealth, and the character and reputation of the owners, their partners, and successors.
- R.G. Dun & Company (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Application for Use of the R.G. Dun & Co. Collection must be submitted before access will be granted.
Extent2640 linear feet (2,522 volumes, 2 boxes)
The R.G. Dun & Co. credit report collection consist of 2,522 volumes of handwritten credit reports on individuals and firms from the United States, its western territories, Canada, and several foreign countries. Entries include information on the duration of the business, net worth, sources of wealth, and the character and reputation of the owners, their partners, and successors. The reports date from the 1840s to the 1890s, and are most complete from the 1850s to the early 1880s. There are a small amount of loose credit reports for the early 1900s.
The credit report volumes are arranged geographically by state or territory. Each state or territory is then subdivided alphabetically by county and/or city. Most include alphabetical name indices that direct the user to the volume and page where the credit report is recorded. The volumes for smaller states or territories sometimes contain multiple counties within a single volume (for example, Georgia v.32 includes Taylor, Telfair, and Terrell counties.)
When the collection was donated to Harvard Business School, a simple state-level numbering system was imposed on the volumes (i.e., Massachusetts v. 1 to 105.) Researchers should use the state-level number to request a volume or to cite it in a publication. However, it should be noted that these numbers were not used by the R.G. Dun & Co. clerks who originally recorded the credit reports. The Dun clerks numbered the volumes for each county or city independently, and used these numbers in their indices. Researchers will need to convert this original number to its state-level equivalent. For example, the Worcester County, Massachusetts, index created by the Dun clerks might point to a credit report in volume 5. The Worcester County v.5 cited in the Dun index is Massachusetts v.101. When necessary, the inventory below lists both the state number and the original Dun volume number.
Please note that the inclusive dates listed for each volume are approximate.
Some loose credit reports have been removed from the credit ledger volumes and are now located in Box 1 and Box 2.
A list of common abbreviations used in the credit report volumes is available for download at this link: Common Abbreviations used in the R.G. Dun & Co. Credit Report Volumes
Founded in 1841 by Lewis Tappan, the Mercantile Agency—later known as R.G. Dun & Co.—was the first commercial reporting agency in America and dominated the field well into the twentieth century. These volumes contain a wealth of business history information on hundreds of American communities during the period 1841 to1892.
The sources of the company's evaluations were its local correspondents who prepared credit reports on businessmen and women. By the early 1850s, the firm employed 2,000 correspondents throughout the U.S. and Canada. At least twice a year, credit reports were sent to Dun's New York City office where they were entered in large ledger books, arranged by state and county. Dun & Bradstreet donated these volumes to Baker Library in 1962.
The collection is arranged geographically in the following order:
- Lawyer volumes
- District of Columbia
- New England
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Utah Territory
- West Virginia
- Western Territories of the U.S.
- Canada - British Columbia
- Canada East - Quebec
- Canada - Manitoba
- Canada - New Brunswick
- Canada - Newfoundland
- Canada - Nova Scotia
- Canada - Prince Edward Island
- Canada West - Ontario
- Foreign Countries
Gift of Dun and Bradstreet, 1962
Existence and Location of Copies
The following credit report volumes are available on microfilm. If a microfilm edition exists, the original volume may not be used. Please consult the inventory below for specific order and reel number information for each microfilmed volume.
- Alabama v.4 (Benton Co., Bibb Co., Blount Co.)
- Delaware v.1-4 (Entire state)
- Illinois v.165-167 (Morgan Co.)
- Indiana v.66-74 (Marion Co.)
- Iowa v.54 (Winnebago Co., Woodbury Co., Wright Co.)
- Maryland v.1-20 (Entire state)
- Massachusetts v.63-64 (Suffolk Co. index)
- Minnesota v.17-18 (Wabashaw Co., Waseca Co., Watonwan Co., Wright Co., Wadena Co., Washington Co., Wilkin Co.)
- New Jersey v.1-2 (All counties-Lawyer volume), v.7-9 (Camden Co., Cape May Co., Cumberland Co.), v.28 (Gloucester Co.), v.70 (Salem Co.)
- New York v.571 (Seneca Co.)
- Oregon v.1 (Oregon & Utah Territories)
- Pennsylvania v.20-22 (Berks Co.), 29 (Bucks Co.), v.38-39 (Chester Co.), v.57 (Delaware Co.), v.78-81 (Lancaster Co.), v.84-88 (Lebanon Co., Lehigh Co.), v.117 (Montgomery Co.), v.127-168 (Philadelphia), v.209-224 (Philadelphia)
- Tennessee v.5-8 (Davidson Co. - Nashville)
- Texas v.8 (Dallas)
- Western Territories v.1
- Canada v. 1-27 (Entire country)
- Foreign Countries v.1
- R.G. Dun & Company. R.G. Dun & Company Credit Report Volumes, 1840-1895 (inclusive): A Finding Aid
- Baker Library
- Language of description
- EAD ID
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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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