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Mss:761 1865-1919 G776

Graves, Edmund Pike, 1856-1913. Edmund Pike Graves Papers, 1865-1919 (inclusive): A Finding Aid

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University


Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:761 1865-1919 G776
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: Graves, Edmund Pike, 1856-1913
Title: Edmund Pike Graves papers
Date(s): 1865-1919 (inclusive)
Quantity: 4.4 linear feet (4 volumes, 4 boxes, 1 carton)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Business and personal papers of Edmund Pike Graves, Sr., an American wool buyer based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1898 to 1913. Also personal papers of his son, Edmund Pike Graves, Jr., 1903-1919.


Gift of N. David Scotti, 1978

Conditions Governing Access:

Appointment necessary to consult collection.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Edmund Pike Graves Collection. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard Business School.

Biographical Note:

Edmund Pike Graves (1856-1913) was a native of Newburyport, Massachusetts. He married Mary Warner Caldwell, also of Newburyport, in 1883; they had four daughters, Ellen, Mary, Nancy and Ruth, and one son, Edmund Jr.
In 1898, Graves moved with his family to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to become a buyer of wool. Graves' clients included the Bigelow Carpet Company and George Willcomb and Company. He remained in business in Argentina until his death in 1913.
Graves and his family became a part of the English-speaking colony in Buenos Aires. Graves was active in efforts to raise funds for a statue of George Washington to be presented as a gift to the Argentinean people, and at the time of his death he was vice-president of the American Society of the River Plate. In addition, the records indicate the family belonged to various associations and clubs including: a Yacht Club, the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, the British and American Benevolent Society and the English Literary Society.
Despite their involvement in the life of Buenos Aires, the Graves family did not remain in South America after Graves' death in 1913. His daughter, Nancy Graves, married Samuel Cabot of Boston and lived in Massachusetts. The records indicate that her mother and sisters also returned to New England soon after 1913.
Edmund Pike Graves, Jr. (1891-1919) began his education at an English boarding school in Argentina, but was enrolled in the Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, in about 1906. He graduated from Harvard College with an A. B. in 1913. After college, Graves accepted a job with the Great Northern Railway and moved to North Dakota. He remained with Great Northern until 1916, when he was forced to leave due to an illness. Regaining his health by the following year, Graves went to Canada to enlist in the Royal Flying Corps. He became a pilot instructor in Texas (winter quarters of the Royal Flying Corps) and taught himself to stunt with the Curtiss airplane. In May 1918, he was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant.
Graves, Jr. sailed to Europe in 1918, but arrived in Scotland only to learn that World War I was coming to an end. He still sought active service, however, and remained in the Royal Air Force after the Armistice. He volunteered for a number of post-war activities, remaining in the military until July 1919. He then joined the newly formed Kosciuszko Squadron of American pilots to fight on behalf of the Polish Republic against Russia. Graves engaged in several flights over enemy lines. On November 22, 1919, Graves was in Lemberg, Poland, taking part in a flying exhibition. As he was attempting to execute a double roll at an altitude of only 150 feet, the wing of Graves' plane broke. Graves jumped from the plane, but his parachute did not open in time. He was killed instantly.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Scope and Content Note:

The collection includes business and personal papers of Edmund P. Graves, Sr., and personal papers of Edmund P. Graves, Jr. The material includes business and personal correspondence, bills of exchange, invoices, records detailing wool specifications, and shipping information. The business correspondence includes letters to Graves from the Bigelow Carpet Company as well as letters and telegrams from business associates in Argentina. Most of the correspondence is in English, but a number of the letters from Graves' Argentinean associates are in Spanish.
The personal papers in the collection include correspondence, household accounts, household bills, invitations and a small amount of Graves family genealogical information. There are a number of letters from Graves to his sister Georgianna Perry (Mrs. Charles F. Perry), describing life in Buenos Aires. There are also letters to Graves from his sister and others relating the news from home. The household bills give a picture of life in Argentina for an American family, detailing books purchased in Boston and shipped to Buenos Aires; pew rents at the Episcopal Church; English-language newspaper subscriptions; tuition bills for the children's schooling; and household expenses. Two folders of invitations and mementos of social events illustrate both the variety of social activities and the intermingling of the North American and British communities in Buenos Aires. These include programs from a Fourth of July celebration; invitations to events celebrating the coronation of King Edward VII; and memorial services for William McKinley, Queen Victoria, and King Edward.
The papers of Edmund P. Graves Jr. contain one folder relating to his youthful interest in stamp collecting but primarily concern the years after his graduation from Harvard. There are several folders of correspondence concerning his employment with the Great Northern Railway as well as material related to his military experience. Also included is a typewritten diary describing his experiences in working his way from Boston to Liverpool as a cattleman on the freighter Lancastrian in 1912.
Only a few items in the collection predate the Graves family's move to Argentina. These include a bill for services rendered a dying member of the Graves family in 1865, the 1883 wedding invitation of Edmund P. Graves and Mary Caldwell, a small notebook detailing stocks and bonds owned, presumably by Edmund Graves, in the 1880s and a few letters regarding the estate of Graves' brother-in-law Charles F. Perry.

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