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Historical Collections

R.G. Dun & Co. / Dun & Bradstreet Collections

Founded in 1841 by Lewis Tappan, the Mercantile Agency-later known as R.G. Dun & Company-was the first successful commercial reporting agency in America. The company pioneered the new industry of credit reporting, an important tool in the development of American commerce during the 19th century. Dun & Bradstreet resulted from the 1933 merger of R. G. Dun & Company and its chief competitor, J. M. Bradstreet & Company. It continued to be an innovator in business information through the 20th century and beyond.

Baker Library holds two separate collections relating to these companies that provide contextual information about the development of credit reporting in the United States. The first, the R. G. Dun & Company Credit Report Volumes, consists of 2,580 volumes of handwritten credit reports collected by the company from 1841 to the early 1890s. The second collection, the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation Records, details the growth of the company and its predecessors from the 1840s to the late 20th century

Access Information

The collections are open to all visitors who are engaged in scholarly research intended for scholarly distribution and whose work depends upon materials contained within Baker Library Historical Collections. There may be restrictions on the use of selected collection materials. Due to our limited staff and preservation concerns, the collections are not open for genealogical research.

Researchers who wish to use the R. G. Dun & Company Credit Report Volumes must read and sign an application, which states the terms for using and citing the collection. Receipt of a signed paper copy is required before access will be granted.

There is no special application process for access to the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation Records, but all visitors are asked to complete a general registration form and present identification with a recent photograph and a current address.

Finding Resources: R. G. Dun & Company Credit Report Volumes

Use the guide to the R. G. Dun & Company Credit Report Volumes to identify volumes relevant to your research project. Researchers need to know the state/territory and the county of interest, as well as the names of individuals or businesses. 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 need to be consulted first, as they 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.

The R.G. Dun & Co Credit Report volumes use a complex system of abbreviations. In order to help you maximize your research time, we have created a list of the more Common Abbreviations used in the R.G. Dun & Company Credit Report Volumes.

Finding Resources: The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation Records

Researchers interested in the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation Records should first consult the guide to the collection.

Finding Resources: Related Publications

Baker Library holds a large number of 19th and 20th century publications produced by the Mercantile Agency, R. G. Dun & Company, and Dun & Bradstreet. There is also an extensive list of monographs and articles written about the companies. A bibliography of these primary and secondary sources is available.

Services: Research Services

Upon written request and for projects that generally qualify for in person access to materials, Baker Library Historical Collections reference staff will conduct limited searches for provided business or individual names in the R.G. Dun & Company Credit Reports Volumes indexes. Before contacting us, please review the complete description of research services for the R.G. Dun & Company Credit Report Volumes and follow the steps outlined there.

Services: Photoduplication Services

Due to their fragile condition, the R.G. Dun & Company Credit Report Volumes may not be photocopied. Due to donor restrictions, materials from the R.G. Dun & Company Credit Reports are not eligible for self service digital photography.

Materials from the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation Records may be copied or photographed in accordance with the department's duplication services.

Services: Permission to Publish

Please contact Baker Library Historical Collections for permission to cite, quote or otherwise use information or images from the R.G. Dun & Company Credit Report Volumes. Permission to publish, to exhibit quotations, or to otherwise use information from the collection must also be obtained from the donor, Dun & Bradstreet, through Baker Library Historical Collections. Please review the complete description of the process of gaining permission to use the R.G. Dun & Co. Credit Report Volumes and follow the steps outlined there.

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