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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:791 1840-1895 D987

R.G. Dun & Company credit report volumes

Overview

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.

Dates

  • 1840-1895

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information.

Appointment necessary to consult collection.

Application for Use of the R.G. Dun & Co. Collection must be submitted before access will be granted.

Extent

2640 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

Historical Note:

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.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged geographically in the following order:
  1. Lawyer volumes
  2. Alabama
  3. Arizona
  4. Arkansas
  5. California
  6. Colorado
  7. Connecticut
  8. Delaware
  9. District of Columbia
  10. Florida
  11. Georgia
  12. Idaho
  13. Illinois
  14. Indiana
  15. Iowa
  16. Kansas
  17. Kentucky
  18. Louisiana
  19. Maine
  20. Maryland
  21. Massachusetts
  22. Michigan
  23. Minnesota
  24. Mississippi
  25. Missouri
  26. Montana
  27. Nebraska
  28. Nevada
  29. New England
  30. New Hampshire
  31. New Jersey
  32. New Mexico
  33. New York
  34. North Carolina
  35. North Dakota
  36. Ohio
  37. Oklahoma
  38. Oregon
  39. Pennsylvania
  40. Rhode Island
  41. South Carolina
  42. South Dakota
  43. Tennessee
  44. Texas
  45. Utah Territory
  46. Vermont
  47. Virginia
  48. Washington
  49. West Virginia
  50. Wisconsin
  51. Wyoming
  52. Western Territories of the U.S.
  53. Canada - British Columbia
  54. Canada East - Quebec
  55. Canada - Manitoba
  56. Canada - New Brunswick
  57. Canada - Newfoundland
  58. Canada - Nova Scotia
  59. Canada - Prince Edward Island
  60. Canada West - Ontario
  61. Foreign Countries

Physical Location

MANU

Provenance:

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.
  1. Alabama v.4 (Benton Co., Bibb Co., Blount Co.)
  2. Delaware v.1-4 (Entire state)
  3. Illinois v.165-167 (Morgan Co.)
  4. Indiana v.66-74 (Marion Co.)
  5. Iowa v.54 (Winnebago Co., Woodbury Co., Wright Co.)
  6. Maryland v.1-20 (Entire state)
  7. Massachusetts v.63-64 (Suffolk Co. index)
  8. Minnesota v.17-18 (Wabashaw Co., Waseca Co., Watonwan Co., Wright Co., Wadena Co., Washington Co., Wilkin Co.)
  9. 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.)
  10. New York v.571 (Seneca Co.)
  11. Oregon v.1 (Oregon & Utah Territories)
  12. 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)
  13. Tennessee v.5-8 (Davidson Co. - Nashville)
  14. Texas v.8 (Dallas)
  15. Western Territories v.1
  16. Canada v. 1-27 (Entire country)
  17. Foreign Countries v.1

Related Material

For papers relating to R.G. Dun & Company and the firms successor, Dun & Bradstreet Inc., please see the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation Records.
Title
R.G. Dun & Company. R.G. Dun & Company Credit Report Volumes, 1840-1895 (inclusive): A Finding Aid
Author
Baker Library
EAD ID
bak00110

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.

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