Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: Arch GA 4.13.1

Henry B. Arthur papers


The papers of Henry B. Arthur include correspondence, research, writings, administrative material, and early professional and outside consultant work before and during his tenure as a professor at Harvard Business School.


  • 1915-1989

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English and Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored offsite; access requires advance notice. HBS Archives collections require a secondary registration form, please contact for more information.


24.25 linear feet (50 boxes)

The Henry B. Arthur papers cover a period from the late 1910s to the late 1980s with the bulk of the material dating from the 1960s to the 1970s. The collection documents the career of Arthur as a professor at Harvard University and American University and early professional work as an economist for various government agencies. Also documented in the collection are his teaching notes, research trips to Latin America and Europe, articles and speeches, outside consulting work, HBS administrative material, and research activities after joining the HBS faculty as the first George M. Moffett Professor of Agriculture and Business in 1960. Records include extensive work on Latin American agriculture, specifically bananas including his "Banana Study" during the 1950s and 1960s, International agribusiness systems, and economic and statistical studies on commodities such as beef, pork, wheat, and cocoa.

Biographical Note:

Henry Bradford Arthur was born 1904 in Gloversville, New York. He majored in mathematics at Union College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1922. He received both his MA (1931) and PhD (1933) in Economics from Harvard University. While working toward his graduate degrees, Arthur taught statistics and general economics at Harvard University (1930-1932). His first professional position was as an economist for the Commission of Government Statistics (1932). He soon joined the staff of the National Recovery Administration (1933) and later, the National Emergency Council (1934-1935), and ended his government service at this time with a position at the WPA (1935-1936). While living in Washington, DC in 1935, Arthur taught statistics at American University.

In 1936, Arthur received a job offer from Chicago packing industry giant Swift & Company, to assist their chief economist George Putnam. When Putnam died in 1939, Arthur was promoted to chief economist and remained with the company until he joined the Harvard Business School faculty in 1960. Throughout his years with Swift & Company, Arthur occasionally took a leave of absence to serve with the U.S. Government in an advisory capacity on food related committees. His growing reputation in the field of agriculture was reflected in his inclusion in the decision making process on wartime food rationing in the 1940s and the Marshall Plan for European food distribution in the 1950s. By the time he was asked to fill an endowed chair at HBS, Arthur had twenty-five years of business and government service behind him and had become an expert in agribusiness and business ethics. As professor, Arthur expanded his influence worldwide and frequently served as a U.S. representative for agricultural and food supply conferences. He became an emeriti in 1971 and continued his research and writing throughout much of the 1980s. He died May 16, 1993.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Henry B. Arthur papers were received by Baker Library Special Collections as a donation from HBS Professor Ray Goldberg in August 1988, February 1990, April 1990, and January 1991 (accession numbers A-88-36, A-90-06, A-90-16, and A-91-43). Additions the Arthur papers (accession number A-15-026) were received from HBS Professor Paul M. Healy in January 2015.

Related Material:

For additional photographs relating to the United Fruit Company, see the United Fruit Company Photograph Collection, United Fruit Company lantern slides and the United Fruit Company photographs. For additional manuscript material relating to the United Fruit Company, see the Boston Fruit Company Records and the Records of companies acquired by the United Fruit Company.

Processing Information

Processed: February 2010 By: Benjamin Johnson Additions processed: September 2018 By: Liam Sullivan

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