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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:773 1830-1925

Bigelow, Kennard & Co. records


Jewelry firm, Boston, Massachusetts, established in 1830, known successively as John Bigelow and Company, Bigelow and Brothers, and Bigelow Brothers and Kennard. Incorporated as Bigelow, Kennard and Company in 1912.


  • Creation: 1791-1910


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored offsite; access requires advance notice. Contact for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

In many cases, Baker Library does not hold the copyright to the materials in its collections. Researchers are responsible for determining copyright status and identifying and contacting any copyright holders for permission to reproduce or publish content from collections. Baker Library has included the names of third-party copyright holders at the folder and item level when known.


50 linear feet (95 volumes, 18 boxes, 36 cartons)

The material contains primarily bills and letters relative to both the purchase and sale of the usual types of goods handled by a jewelry concern. The early years (circa 1830-1865) are well documented, but there are serious gaps in the subsequent record. Much of the purchasing was from Europe, especially watches from England and Switzerland. The sales were not only within the territory immediately surrounding Boston but very frequently to quite distant parts of the country. One interesting group of papers for the early 1850's concerns a customer of considerable importance, Major James Henry Carleton, then stationed at Fort Union and Albuquerque, New Mexico. His orders were large and frequent, and his letters often include interesting glimpses into the life of an army officer in the Apache country. One letter refers to his friend, Kit Carson. Bigelow, Kennard and Company found, as was then usual, that in general as the market area increased so did the difficulty in collecting debts.

Biographical / Historical

John Bigelow (1802-1878) founded John Bigelow & Co. as a jewelry business in Boston, Massachusetts in 1830. He was joined by his brother Alanson a few years later, prompting the firm's name to change to Bigelow Bros. & Co. The company expanded its business from jewelry to high quality clocks and watches and altar silverware. The merchandise was privately manufactured and sold at their store in Boston. Martin Parry Kennard joined the firm in 1845, which prompted the company to change its name to Bigelow Bros. & Kennard. After 1863, the firm was named Bigelow, Kennard & Co. The store was closed in 1971.

Physical Location


Processing Information

Material in this collection has been rehoused into document boxes. Some of the material was previously stored as docketed receipts in record center cartons. These materials are now located in alphanumeric boxes (i.e. Box 5A or Box 5B) with more detailed information regarding the contents of the boxes. The material in the cartons, for the most part, remains unprocessed, but is still accessible.

Baker Library
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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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