[OASIS] Harvard University Library
OASIS: Online Archival Search Information System
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HBS.Baker.EAD:bak00110View HOLLIS Record   Frames Version
Questions or Comments   Copyright Statement

On July 16, 2018, OASIS will retire. It will be replaced by HOLLIS for Archival Discovery. Please explore.
Mss:791 1840-1895 D987

R.G. Dun & Company. R.G. Dun & Company Credit Report Volumes, 1840-1895 (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:791 1840-1895 D987
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Title: R.G. Dun & Company credit report volumes
Date(s): 1840-1895
Quantity: 2640 linear feet (2,522 volumes, 2 boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Credit reports created during the nineteenth century by America's first commercial reporting agency. The 2,522 volumes of handwritten credit reports cover individuals and firms and include information on the duration of the business, net worth, sources of wealth, and the character and reputation of the owners, their partners, and successors.


Gift of Dun and Bradstreet, 1962

Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information.
Appointment necessary to consult collection.
Application for Use of the R.G. Dun & Co. Collectionmust be submitted before access will be granted.

Existence and Location of Copies:

The following credit report volumes are available on microfilm. If a microfilm edition exists, the original volume may not be used. Please consult the inventory below for specific order and reel number information for each microfilmed volume.
  • Alabama v.4 (Benton Co., Bibb Co., Blount Co.)
  • Delaware v.1-4 (Entire state)
  • Illinois v.165-167 (Morgan Co.)
  • Indiana v.66-74 (Marion Co.)
  • Iowa v.54 (Winnebago Co., Woodbury Co., Wright Co.)
  • Maryland v.1-20 (Entire state)
  • Massachusetts v.63-64 (Suffolk Co. index)
  • Minnesota v.17-18 (Wabashaw Co., Waseca Co., Watonwan Co., Wright Co., Wadena Co., Washington Co., Wilkin Co.)
  • New Jersey v.1-2 (All counties-Lawyer volume), v.7-9 (Camden Co., Cape May Co., Cumberland Co.), v.28 (Gloucester Co.), v.70 (Salem Co.)
  • New York v.571 (Seneca Co.)
  • Oregon v.1 (Oregon & Utah Territories)
  • Pennsylvania v.20-22 (Berks Co.), 29 (Bucks Co.), v.38-39 (Chester Co.), v.57 (Delaware Co.), v.78-81 (Lancaster Co.), v.84-88 (Lebanon Co., Lehigh Co.), v.117 (Montgomery Co.), v.127-168 (Philadelphia), v.209-224 (Philadelphia)
  • Tennessee v.5-8 (Davidson Co. - Nashville)
  • Texas v.8 (Dallas)
  • Western Territories v.1
  • Canada v. 1-27 (Entire country)
  • Foreign Countries v.1
  • Preferred Citation:

    Cite as: R.G. Dun & Co. Credit Report Volumes, Baker Library, Harvard Business School.

    Related Material

    For papers relating to R.G. Dun & Company and the firms successor, Dun & Bradstreet Inc., please see the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation Records.

    Historical Note:

    Founded in 1841 by Lewis Tappan, the Mercantile Agency—later known as R.G. Dun & Co.—was the first commercial reporting agency in America and dominated the field well into the twentieth century. These volumes contain a wealth of business history information on hundreds of American communities during the period 1841 to1892.
    The sources of the company's evaluations were its local correspondents who prepared credit reports on businessmen and women. By the early 1850s, the firm employed 2,000 correspondents throughout the U.S. and Canada. At least twice a year, credit reports were sent to Dun's New York City office where they were entered in large ledger books, arranged by state and county. Dun & Bradstreet donated these volumes to Baker Library in 1962.

    Series Outline

    The collection is arranged geographically in the following order:

    Scope and Content Note:

    The R.G. Dun & Co. credit report collection consist of 2,522 volumes of handwritten credit reports on individuals and firms from the United States, its western territories, Canada, and several foreign countries. Entries include information on the duration of the business, net worth, sources of wealth, and the character and reputation of the owners, their partners, and successors. The reports date from the 1840s to the 1890s, and are most complete from the 1850s to the early 1880s. There are a small amount of loose credit reports for the early 1900s.
    The credit report volumes are arranged geographically by state or territory. Each state or territory is then subdivided alphabetically by county and/or city. Most include alphabetical name indices that direct the user to the volume and page where the credit report is recorded. The volumes for smaller states or territories sometimes contain multiple counties within a single volume (for example, Georgia v.32 includes Taylor, Telfair, and Terrell counties.)
    When the collection was donated to Harvard Business School, a simple state-level numbering system was imposed on the volumes (i.e., Massachusetts v. 1 to 105.) Researchers should use the state-level number to request a volume or to cite it in a publication. However, it should be noted that these numbers were not used by the R.G. Dun & Co. clerks who originally recorded the credit reports. The Dun clerks numbered the volumes for each county or city independently, and used these numbers in their indices. Researchers will need to convert this original number to its state-level equivalent. For example, the Worcester County, Massachusetts, index created by the Dun clerks might point to a credit report in volume 5. The Worcester County v.5 cited in the Dun index is Massachusetts v.101. When necessary, the inventory below lists both the state number and the original Dun volume number.
    Please note that the inclusive dates listed for each volume are approximate.
    Some loose credit reports have been removed from the credit ledger volumes and are now located in Box 1 and Box 2.

    Container List