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Mss:773 1830-1925

Bigelow, Kennard and Company. Bigelow, Kennard and Company Records, 1791-1910: An Inventory

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:773 1830-1925
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Title: Bigelow, Kennard and Company records, 1791-1910
Date(s): 1791-1910
Quantity: 50 linear feet (95 volumes, 18 boxes, 36 cartons)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Jewelry firm, Boston, Mass., established in 1830, known successively as John Bigelow and Company, Bigelow and Brothers, and Bigelow Brothers and Kennard. Incorporated as Bigelow, Kennard and Company in 1912.

Processing Information:

Material in this collection has been rehoused into document boxes. Some of the material was previously stored as docketed receipts in record center cartons. These materials are now located in alphanumeric boxes (i.e. Box 5A or Box 5B) with more detailed information regarding the contents of the boxes. The material in the cartons, for the most part, remains unprocessed, but is still accessible.

Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open for research. Materials stored offsite; access requires advance notice. Contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Bigelow, Kennard and Company Records. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard Business School.


The following items have been removed from the collection:

Historical Note:

John Bigelow founded John Bigelow & Co. as a jewelry business in Boston, Massachusetts in 1830. He was joined by his brother Alanson a few years later, prompting the firm's name to change to Bigelow Bros. & Co. The company expanded its business from jewelry to high quality clocks and watches and altar silverware. The merchandise was privately manufactured and sold at their store in Boston. Martin Parry Kennard joined the firm in 1845, which prompted the company to change its name to Bigelow Bros. & Kennard. After 1863, the firm was named Bigelow, Kennard & Co. The store was closed in 1971.

Scope and Content Note:

The material contains primarily bills and letters relative to both the purchase and sale of the usual types of goods handled by a jewelry concern. The early years (ca. 1830-1865) are well documented, but there are serious gaps in the subsequent record. Much of the purchasing was from Europe, especially watches from England and Switzerland. The sales were not only within the territory immediately surrounding Boston but very frequently to quite distant parts of the country. One interesting group of papers for the early 1850's concerns a customer of considerable importance, Major James Henry Carleton, then stationed at Fort Union and Albuquerque, New Mexico. His orders were large and frequent, and his letters often include interesting glimpses into the life of an army officer in the Apache country. One letter refers to his friend, Kit Carson. Bigelow, Kennard and Company found, as was then usual, that in general as the market area increased so did the difficulty in collecting debts.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Retail trade.
Jewelry trade--Massachusetts.
Account books.
Bills (financial).
Boston (Mass.)--Commerce.
Fort Union (N.M.)
Albuquerque (N.M.)
Bigelow, Kennard and Company.
John Bigelow and Company.
Bigelow and Brothers.
Bigelow Brothers and Kennard.
Bigelow, John.
Carleton, James Henry, 1814-1873.