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COLLECTION Identifier: Arch GA 14

Melvin Thomas Copeland papers


This collection consists of HBS professor Melvin Thomas Copeland's correspondence, teaching notes, research materials and notes and drafts of his book Problems in Marketing.


  • 1919-1953

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.

Access may be restricted. Details at the repository.


3.5 linear feet (10 boxes)
The collection includes Melvin T. Copeland’s teaching notes regarding business policy cases used in classroom instruction at HBS. Copeland maintained these materials as two separate groups of records: actively used cases and withdrawn cases. These folders contain only notes and not the cases themselves. Both sets contain materials from the 1920s to the 1940s.

Also included in the collection is Copeland’s professional correspondence. The content of the correspondence includes case collection, requests for advice from companies and prospective applicants to HBS, the activities of the Bureau of Business Research, conferences and meetings, speaking engagements, and requests from businesses for names of suitable graduates to fill available positions.

The collection includes correspondence pertaining to HBS administration, including records regarding the Harvard Advertising Awards, 1925 to 1930, and the Wertheim Committee for a research fellowship on industrial relations, 1923 to 1945.

The collection also includes a small amount of Copeland’s research on cost issues for possible classroom use, his unpublished 1935 report on tax exemption status for Harvard University, his class notes compiled for use in editions one, two, and three of his book, Problems in Marketing, and notes and drafts made in preparation for the fourth edition (1931) of the same book.

Biographical Note:

Melvin Thomas Copeland, 1884 to 1975, earned the BA from Bowdoin in 1906, an MA from Harvard in 1907, and a Ph.D. (Economics) from Harvard in 1910. He served as an Instructor in Economics at Harvard from 1909 to 1910 and at New York University from 1911 to 1912. He was an instructor at HBS from 1912 to 1918 and Professor of Marketing from 1919 to 1953. He was Director of the Bureau of Business Research at HBS from 1916 to 1926 and Director of Business Research from 1942 to 1953. Copeland served as Chair of the Massachusetts Committee on Post-War Readjustment from 1943 to 1946; chaired the Harvard Advertising Award Jury from 1925 to 1931; was a commentator on Harvard Business Reports from 1927 to 1931; and served on the Board of Overseers at Bowdoin College from 1934 to 1947. He was the author of the first casebook used at HBS, Marketing Problems, as well as numerous other publications on manufacturing, merchandising, process, and the role of business executives.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:
  1. Series I. Correspondence, 1919-1953
  2. ___Subseries A. Correspondence, 1919-1953
  3. ___Subseries B. Restricted Correspondence, 1923-1951
  4. Series II. HBS Teaching Records, circa 1933-1948
  5. ___Subseries A. HBS Teaching Records – Active Cases, circa 1933-1948
  6. ___Subseries B. HBS Teaching Records – Withdrawn Cases, circa 1933-1948
  7. Series III. HBS Research and Writing, 1919-1938
  8. Series IV. HBS Administrative Records, 1922-1947

Physical Location


Processing Information

Processed: April 1995

By: Jeff Mifflin; Processing review and revisions by Lisa Moorhead, September 2004; revised Laura Williams, May 2009.
Processing Information In 1995, four cubic feet of material in four cartons was reduced to three cubic feet in three cartons by elimination of letters of reference, student grades, and summaries for internal use of student records. Paper clips were removed and binders were discarded. All remaining materials were reboxed and refoldered.

Collection organization was reviewed in 2004, and series were reorganized to correspond to contemporary finding aid template structure and Harvard University records access guidelines.
Link to catalog
Copeland, Melvin Thomas, 1884-1975. Melvin Thomas Copeland Papers, 1919-1953: A Finding Aid
Baker Library

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.

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