Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:766 1784-1892

John Jacob Astor business records


Correspondence, account books and other records documenting the business activities of merchant, fur trader, and investor John Jacob Astor (1763-1848).


  • Creation: 1784-1892 (inclusive)
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1809-1848

Conditions Governing Access

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


7 linear feet (19 volumes, 29 boxes)

Material collected by Kenneth Wiggins Porter during the writing of his book John Jacob Astor: Business Man (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1931.) Correspondence and other papers, including account books of the Hunt-McKenzie overland party to Astoria, Oregon, and the Pacific Fur Company, 1806-1823; a small number of letters, invoices, and agreements relating to the Pacific Fur Company, the American Fur Company and the China trade; and letter books, 1813-1848, relating to the China trade, the fur trade, Wisconsin land speculation, insurance, banking, and railroads. Includes papers of Nathan Goodell, 1842-1861; Henry S. Baird, 1847-1875; and J. S. Baker, 1875-1891.

Biographical Note:

Merchant, fur trader, capitalist. Born in Waldorf in Germany. Came to United States in 1784, settling in New York. Engaged in fur trading and China trade. Organized American Fur Company in 1808 and Pacific Fur Company in 1810. Established Astoria on the northwest coast in 1811. Gradually built up extensive holdings in New York real estate. From 1834 until his death in 1848 Astor was interested exclusively in investments and lending money on real estate security. See sketch in Dictionary of American Biography.

Physical Location


Existence and Location of Copies

Vol. 1a and 1b, Praire du Chien journals (1810-1812) are available on microfilm (1 reel, 35mm.) for use in the Historical Collections Reading Room, Baker Library. Order no. 84-1316, Reel 8.

Vol. 2B, Part of the Astoria journals (1811-1814) entitled "Blotter G", is available on microfilm (1 reel, 35mm.) for use in the Historical Collections Reading Room, Baker Library. Order no. 86-2551, Reel 1.

Vols. 16 (Letter book, J. J. Astor, 1813-1815), 17 (Letter book, J. J. Astor, 1831-1838) and 18 (Letter book, J. J. Astor, 1845-1848) are available as digital surrogates.

Astor, John Jacob, 1763-1848. John Jacob Astor Business Records, 1784-1892 (inclusive), 1809-1848 (bulk): 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.

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