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Arch GA 11

Cabot, Philip, 1872-1941. Philip Cabot Papers, 1885-1942: 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.: Arch GA 11
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Title: Philip Cabot papers
Date(s): 1885-1942
Quantity: 10.75 linear feet (7 cartons, 5 boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Correspondence, teaching, speeches, writing and administrative papers of Harvard Business School professor Philip Cabot.

Processing Information:

Processed: August 1994
By: Carole Foster

Conditions Governing Access:

Appointment necessary to consult collection.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Philip Cabot Papers. HBS Archives. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard Business School.

Biographical Note:

Philip Cabot was born in Beverly Farms, MA, in 1872, youngest of the seven sons of J. Elliot and Elizabeth (Dwight) Cabot. The family spent winters in Brookline and Philip and twin brother, Hugh, were educated by governesses and in small private schools during their childhood. Cabot graduated from Roxbury Latin in 1889 and entered Harvard College in 1890. After graduation (1894), he worked as an office boy and rent collector in real estate (1984-1910). He quit this field to become manager and promoter of public utilities. A few years later he became a partner in the investment firm of White, Weld & Company and maintained a Boston office for this New York-based company. Cabot retired from active business in 1920.
At the request of Dean Wallace Donham, Cabot was persuaded to become a lecturer of public utility management at Harvard Business School (1924) working with T. H. Dillon. In 1927, a contribution from the National Electric Light Association allowed an expanded curriculum in this area and Cabot succeeded Professor Dillon in becoming Professor of Public Utility Management working closely with HBS Professor Deane W. Malott. After a serious illness in 1934 and in response to the events of the Great Depression, Cabot changed his focus and became Professor of Business Administration (1935). He developed an industry and government course which brought together the social and political aspects of business administration. Reflecting his increasing concern with the social contract between workers and employers, he organized the Business Executive Discussion Groups which bore his imprint from its inception in 1935 until 1940. In 1941, at the suggestion of Dean Donham, this forum changed its focus, and became the New England Conference on National Defense, with membership restricted to leaders of small New England businesses. Cabot organized and ran this larger group until his death in 1941.
In addition to his heavy teaching load, Professor Cabot maintained a mailing list of over 500 people with whom he corresponded. As a conservative Republican, the 1930s served as fertile ground for lengthy debates on social security, socialized medicine, unemployment, welfare, WPA projects, and all manner of topics arising from the New Deal era. Philip Cabot married Lucy Fuller, niece of Margaret Fuller, in June 1902. Before divorcing in 1911, they had two daughters: Sylvia (Cabot) Walker and Faith (Cabot) Pigors. He remained a bachelor until September 1937 when he married his secretary, Gertrude Glidden. Professor Cabot died Christmas Day, 1941.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Scope and Content Note:

The papers of Philip Cabot (1872-1941), expert on public utilities, reflect his professional and personal activities during the last twenty years of his life. The bulk of these materials fall within the 1920s and 1930s while he was professor of utility management and economics (1924-1934) and professor of business administration (1935-1941). A small amount of biographical material is included.
The records of Professor Cabot contain correspondence, letters send/received, speeches, articles, telegrams, transcripts, studies, reports, clippings, programs, graphs, teaching notes, memoranda, annotated cases, by-laws and minutes. These records document the development of the public utility management courses in the 1920s and early 1930s under the controversial sponsorship of the National Electric Light Association; reflect the organization, development, and achievements of the Business Executives Discussion Group and show Cabot's growing involvement in organizations concerned with the rise of European dictatorships and war in Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
The records in this collection document the various directions taken by Professor Cabot at Harvard Business School in response to a variety of educational and social trends, as well as in response to the necessities of the economic depression of the 1930s. Such trends can be observed in the emphasis placed on the inclusion of legal, engineering, and financial facets in public utility cases and the development of the Industry and Government course which recognized the increasing relationship between the two in response to New Deal legislation. In addition, the correspondence reflects Professor Cabot's wide-ranging interests and his policy of discussing contemporary topics with family, friends, acquaintances, students, colleagues, and business, political and economic leaders of the day.
Of particular note in this collection are the material which chronicle the yearly activities, schedules, and responses of the Business Executives Discussion Group (1934-1941). Also of interest are correspondence with friends, family and colleagues on Harvard-related groups such the Harvard Public Health United (1940), Harvard Political Union (1935-1936), Students Service League for Defense [Harvard Chapter of American Student Defense League](1940), Committee on Observation of 25th Year of School (1933), American Quartermaster Corps (1940), and Baker Library Contributors (1935). For information on Cabot's European trip to England to discuss industrial and economic problems, consult the records of European Trip, 1932. Also included in this record group are class notes for Harvard Business School public utility courses given in the 1920s and 1930s.

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