Boston Fruit Company records
Conditions Governing Access
Extent3 linear feet (3 volumes)
By 1882, the partners perceived the need for a more elaborate import business. With thehelp of several financial backers, Preston and Baker established the Boston FruitCompany in 1885. Baker oversaw the firm's operations in Jamaica, while Prestonmanaged the company from Boston and supervised its sales and delivery efforts. Duringthe 1890s, the firm developed a refrigerated distribution network. Boston Fruit Companyalso operated a large fleet of ships that carried its banana shipments from Jamaica toAmerican ports, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Mobile, and New Orleans.The firm's offices and docks were located at the Long Wharf on the Boston waterfront.
In 1898, Minor Cooper Keith, who controlled extensive banana operations in Costa Ricaand Panama, approached Baker and Preston to propose a merger. The Bostonians agreedto join their efforts with Keith's, and a new firm, called the United Fruit Company, wasestablished in March 1899. The Boston firm's vessels became the nucleus of the UnitedFruit Company's famous "Great White Fleet," which delivered bananas throughout theworld .
Andrew Preston became president of United Fruit Company, and held the post until hisdeath in 1924. United Fruit grew considerably during the early decades of the twentiethcentury. The company became a major Central American and Caribbean landowner. TheUnited Fruit Company played an influential and controversial role in the region's politicsthrough much of the twentieth century.
By: Timothy J. Mahoney
- Boston Fruit Company. Boston Fruit Company Records, 1891-1901: A Finding Aid
- Baker Library
- EAD ID
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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