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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:1406 1600-1969 B979

Business instruments collection


A collection of seventeenth century to twentieth century business instruments such as accounts receivable, bills, checks, notes, stock certificates, warranties, and samples of business letterhead.


  • Creation: 1600-1969

Conditions Governing Access

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


15.50 linear feet (29 boxes)

The collection contains a wide variety of business instruments dating from the seventeenth century to the twentieth century. The documents are divided into three series: Forms, Miscellany, and the Robert and Irma Jackson Collection of Business Documents. The first two series are arranged alphabetically by document type. The Jackson series is a small collection of business instruments arranged by company name (when known) or by document type. The collection provides an overview of the various types of business instruments, such as accounts receivable, bills, checks, stock certificates, warranties, etc. The bills and receipts are also a valuable resource for determining commodity prices during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Also of interest are the autographs and corporate letterheads. Portfolio items and oversized documents have been removed to the manuscript-oversize collection.

Historical Note:

Business instruments are written statements of fact that have sufficient authority to serve as evidence or proof in legal proceedings. At a minimum, business instruments provide evidence of specific transactions, obligations, or intentions that comprise commercial activity. The form and function of these documents evolved with changes in business law and information technology, but many of the more common types have their roots deep in European commercial traditions.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

  1. Series I. Forms, 1600-1967
  2. ___Subseries I.A. Forms, 1600-1967
  3. ___Subseries I.B. Stock certificates,1791-1964
  4. ___Subseries I.C. Warranties, service agreements, etc., collected by Donald R. Sohn for his DBA thesis, 1959 (these are mostly owners’ manuals)
  5. ___Subseries I.D. Material dealing with warranties and service agreements collected by Donald R. Sohn for his DBA thesis, 1959
  6. Series II. Miscellany, 1600-1969
  7. ___Subseries II.A. Miscellany
  8. ___Subseries II.B. Bills by subject
  9. ___Subseries II.C. Bills by date and family
  10. ___Subseries II.D. Letterhead
  11. ___Subseries II.E. 10K Reports
  12. Series III. Robert and Irma Jackson Collection of Business Documents, 1778-1915

Physical Location



Gift of H.F. Aiken, November 1931; Permanent loan from American Bank Note Company, 1959-1961; Baldwin Papers; Gift of Mrs. Bancroft; Boston Public Library; Gift of A.H. Churchill; Gift of Mr. Clark, May 1947; Gift of Elizabeth C. Coburn; F.R. Currier; Gift of Walter H. Dugan, June 1932; Gift of Mrs. F. Eckstrom, September 1931; Gift of Chas. S. Ensign, Jr., June 1938; Gift of F. Murray Forbes, Jr., October 1952; Gift of Harriet J. & Florence G. Ford, August 1934; Hobbs Collection; Purchase from Julian C. Hood, 1948; Gift of T.F. Jewett, May, 1933; Clara L. Leach; Gift of Mrs. C. Mills, 1932; Gift of Missouri Pacific Railroad Co., November 1950; Gift of Mrs. Lawrence Park, April 1937; George B. Roorbach; Donald R. Sohn; Gift of Charles Taylor; Trotter Collection.; Gift of Robert and Irma Jackson, 1993.

Processing Information

Processed: March 1999

By: Sean Perrone

Business instruments collection, 1600-1969: 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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