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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:783 1836-1959

Kidder, Peabody & Company records

Scope and Contents

Kidder, Peabody & Co. records include an incomplete set of John E. and Nathaniel Thayer’s account books. Information contained in the account books include Thayer & Brother activities of investing in a variety of enterprises, mostly New England banks, insurance companies, cotton manufacturing firms, real estate, and railroads. The partnership records of Kidder, Peabody (1865-1931) include some of the partners’ correspondence, confidential letters, and set of clerk records, circulars and histories, each containing mostly announcements and prospectuses of some of the firm’s underwriting. Also included in a 1939 financial report of Kidder & Peabody.


  • Creation: 1836-1959


Conditions Governing Access

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


10 linear feet (43 volumes and 3 boxes)

Biographical / Historical

Kidder, Peabody & Co. was organized in April 1865, conducting business in banking, brokerage, and exchange. The Company was a reorganization of its founding company, J.E. Thayer & Brother. Henry P. Kidder, Francis H. Peabody, and Oliver W. Peabody had served for many years as clerks in Thayer & Brother. At the time of Nathaniel Thayer’s retirement the firm’s banking experience and business practices, as well as many of its clients, passed to Kidder, Peabody & Co.

John Eliot Thayer, son of a Unitarian minister, began his own private banking and brokerage house in Boston in 1824. In 1826, he move his office to 47 State Street, the center of Boston’s financial district, where he continued in business until his death in 1857. He was married to Anna Francis, the daughter of Ebenezar Francis, a wealthy shipowner, merchant, and financier.

J. E. Thayer was regarded as a leading figure in the Boston financial district. He helped to establish the Boston Stock Exchange in 1834 and was active in organizing the Boston Board of Trade. Some of the services provided by his brokerage firm included raising new capital for business and government, buying and selling securities for clients, and providing financial advice to corporations. He also counseled wealthy individuals on their investments. Thayer dealt in foreign exchange, but did not participate in foreign trade.

Thayer continued in business for himself until 1839 at which time he admitted his younger bother, Nathaniel Thayer, into the firm. J.E. Thayer & Brother was organized in June 1839. The business never had more than two partners, and Nathaniel Thayer became head of the firm upon the John’s death on September 29, 1857. There were no significant changes made to the firm or its functions. It continued to engage in a wide variety of banking and brokerage activities. At the time of its reorganization in 1865 J.E. Thayer & Brother was one of Boston’s leading private banking and brokerage houses.

Henry P. Kidder and the brothers, Francis H and Oliver W. Peabody were all natives of Massachusetts, and were well known among the state’s business and financial leaders through their long association with Thayer & Brother. Henry Kidder, born in 1822, was the son of a Boston fish and meat inspector. He attended the Roxbury Latin School. In 1845, at the age of 23, he became the confidential clerk to Nathaniel Thayer and made partner upon the senior Thayer’s death.

Francis and Oliver Peabody were the sons of a Unitarian minister. Francis went to a public school and worked in the Chicopee Bank in which the Thayers had an interest. In 1847, at the age of 16, he became a clerk in the Thayer firm. Three years younger than his brother, Oliver Peabody joined the firm upon his graduation from Phillips Exeter Academy at the age of 15. He left in 1862 to serve in the war and returned to join his brother and Kidder in the newly organized firm.

Kidder, Peabody was a diversified banking house, as was the tradition established by Thayer & Brother. It offered a wide variety of financial services and like many private banking houses in Boston and New York fell into two broadly defined categories: banking and investments. As bankers it accepted deposits, dealt in gold and specie, made secured call and time loans, bought and sold foreign exchange on a commission basis, and issued commercial and travelers’ letters of credit. The firm also expanded its investment operations: dealing in federal, state, and municipal securities; buying and selling corporate bonds and stacks on commission in Boston and other markets; trading and investing in securities on its own account; originating and distributing new issues; acting as fiscal agents for the companies the firm had helped finance; and participating in the management of corporations.

Kidder, Peabody increased the activities and volume of its business and modified them to meet the changing needs of its clients. It had a partner on the Boston Stock and Exchange Board and a representative on the New York Stock Exchange.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Most of these records were received form HBS Business History Area in 1969; volume 26 was received several years earlier. Two folders on E.S. Higgins and Hartford Carpet Co., 1899-1901, were relocated from box 43 to the Bigelow-Sanford Collection. The 1939 financial report was donated by Albert Gordon in 2004.


Kidder, Peabody & Co. Kidder, Peabody & Company Records, 1836-1959 (inclusive), 1880-1930 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Baker Library Special Collections Staff
August 2017
Description rules
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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