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Mss:783 1868-1986 L523

Lehman Brothers. Lehman Brothers Records, 1868-2007 (inclusive): A Finding Aid

Baker Library

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Harvard Business School, Boston, MA 02163
August 2007

© 2007 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Baker Library, Harvard Business School
Call No.: Mss:783 1868-1986 L523
Creator: Lehman Brothers
Title: Lehman Brothers records, 1868-2007 (inclusive)
Quantity: 350 linear ft. (157 v., 370 boxes)
Abstract: The collection contains administrative records of the investment banking firm Lehman Brothers and of Kuhn, Loeb & Company, another firm that merged with Lehman in 1977. Also includes the papers of numerous Lehman Brothers and Kuhn, Loeb & Company executives and their families.

Processing Information:

Processed: 2003-2011
By: Liz Slade, Sara Cheeseman, Nicole DeAngelo, Laura Morris, Benjamin Johnson, and Tim Mahoney.

Provenance:

Gift of Lehman Brothers, 2002, 2008.

Access Restrictions:

Appointment necessary to consult collection.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Lehman Brothers Records, Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School.

Historical Note:

Lehman Brothers was founded as a cotton brokerage in Alabama in 1850. Henry Lehman emigrated from Germany and in 1844 established a small shop selling groceries, dry goods and utensils to the local cotton farmers. By 1850, his brothers Emanuel and Mayer joined him in the business, which they named Lehman Brothers. The brothers moved their operations to New York City in 1858. Lehman Brothers quickly evolved from a general merchandising business into a commodities brokerage, eventually becoming a merchant banking firm offering sizable securities trading and financial advisory services. The firm’s ability to identify growth industries—particularly in transportation, communication, and entertainment—led to tremendous achievements over many decades.
Robert Lehman, the grandson of Emanuel Lehman, became a partner in the firm during the 1920s and quickly moved into the leadership role. Robert Lehman was the firm’s senior partner, a position he held from 1925 until his death in 1969. Under his leadership, Lehman Brothers cultivated and maintained its interest in retail merchandising and became particularly noted for financing and consolidating firms from the air transportation, entertainment and communication industries. In 1929 the firm formed Lehman Corporation, its own investment company, which traded its stocks and bonds on the New York Stock Exchange and proved one of Lehman Brothers’ most successful creations. It also built up an Investment Advisory Service for wealthy individuals that proved highly successful. Lehman Brothers was innovative throughout Robert Lehman’s tenure; in 1967 it placed among the nation’s top four investment banks in total dollar volume.
In the 1960s, the firm greatly expanded its capital markets trading capabilities, particularly in commercial paper, leading to its designation as an official dealer for the United States Department of the Treasury. Many of Lehman Brothers’ clients expanded their business overseas during this time, and Lehman Brothers opened offices in Paris in 1960 and London in 1972 to meet international financing needs.
In 1977, Lehman Brothers, Inc. merged with Kuhn, Loeb & Company to form Lehman Brothers, Kuhn, Loeb. Kuhn, Loeb & Company was founded by Abraham Kuhn and Solomon Loeb, who began working as commercial partners in 1850, selling clothing and dry-goods in Indiana and Ohio. In 1867, they co-founded a private banking house in New York with assets estimated at half a million dollars. Jacob H. Schiff and Abraham L. Wolff joined Kuhn, Loeb & Company as partners in 1875, and Felix M. Warburg and Otto H. Kahn became partners in 1897. By the end of the nineteenth century, the firm numbered among the six leading investment houses in the country. Kuhn, Loeb & Company eventually branched out into transportation finance, underwriting and financial advisory. The firm also managed loans and securities sales for foreign governments and municipalities, eventually introducing shares of large foreign corporations into the American market. Kuhn, Loeb & Company dealt primarily with institutional investors and corporate clients, though a financial advisory department for affluent individuals was formed in the 1960s.
Early success in the railroad industry enabled Kuhn, Loeb & Company to become leaders in the field of transportation underwriting and reorganization. The firm also served as banker for the shipping and airline industries. Kuhn, Loeb & Company also managed loans and securities sales for foreign governments and municipalities, eventually introducing shares of large foreign corporations into the American market. They acted as financial advisors to many corporations, including Bethlehem Steel Company, the Chemical New York Corporation, Inland Steel Company, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and Western Union Telegraph Company. The firm dealt primarily with institutional investors and corporate clients, though it did run an investment advisory department for wealthy individuals and began trading bonds in the 1960s.
The combined firm remained Lehman Brothers, Kuhn, Loeb until 1984, when it was acquired by American Express to form Shearson Lehman Brothers. In 1993, the firm was spun off and once again became known solely as Lehman Brothers. Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2008.
For several generations, partners of both firms were often related, by birth or marriage, to descendants of the founding families. Robert Lehman was senior partner for over forty years of the firm founded by his paternal grandfather and great-uncles, and members of the Warburg, Schiff and Kahn families were partners in Kuhn, Loeb & Company for almost a century. Multi-generational involvement in the family firm was significant.
These families collaborated not only in business endeavors, but also in philanthropic and charitable undertakings. All served on numerous corporate and charitable boards. Robert Lehman, perhaps most acknowledged for the legacy of his art collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, also gave generously to a wide array of humanitarian organizations. The Warburg family, renowned for their multi-generational involvement in American-Jewish issues and philanthropies, was also actively involved in arts, education and social work endeavors. Otto H. and Addie Wolff Kahn were noted patrons of the arts, and particularly supported the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York. John Schiff was closely involved with the Boy Scouts of America and served as the organization’s president for many years.
All of the families maintained homes in New York City and estates elsewhere. Each of these families provided financially for its own members through various trusts, and several established foundations to manage their charitable contributions and efforts most effectively. The Lehman Foundation, the Schiff Foundation and the Warburg Foundation all supported charitable undertakings on a large scale.

Scope and Content Note:

The collection consists of records created by Lehman Brothers, by Kuhn Loeb & Company before it merged with Lehman in 1977, and by Lehman Brothers, Kuhn, Loeb after the merger. There are four series: executive records, which document the activities of numerous Lehman Brothers and Kuhn Loeb & Co. partners and their families; administrative records, which document the business operations of both Lehman Brothers and Kuhn Loeb & Company; partnership agreements for Kuhn Loeb & Company and Lehman Brothers; and photographs.
The records date from 1868 to 2007 and include correspondence, receipts, reports, bank statements and cancelled checks, bound ledgers, client files, partnership agreements, photographs, newspaper clippings, bills, tax reports, trust documents, wills, meeting minutes, blueprints, trading statements and memorabilia.
The records in the addenda consist of similar material to records in the existing collection. Areas in which the addenda records do not overlap include material related to Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb after the merger dating from the 1980s to 2000s. The bulk of this material dates in the 1980s and 1990s. Also included is personal papers related to Robert Lehman, Lehman family trust and estate documents, and early business papers, partnerships agreements, and bound volumes of Lehman Brothers.

Processing Note:

An addenda to the Lehman Brothers records arrived in 2008. This new material was added to the existing collection, which was donated in 2002. Much of the material in the addenda is similar to the existing collection. Slight effort was made to physically or intellectually integrate the new material into the existing collection. This decision was made due to the complexities and size of the collection. The existing collection (2002 donation) can be found in boxes and volumes numbered 1 to 526. The addenda can be found in any unit, box or volume numbered 527 to 731.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Detailed Description of the Collection