Photograph Collections

The camera has chronicled the history of industry since the invention of the medium in 1839, and the photograph holdings at Baker Library Historical Collections are the result of a tradition of extensive collecting efforts for research and teaching that began with the founding of Harvard Business School (HBS) in 1908. At present these photographic collections hold more than 22,000 images of factories, equipment, techniques, processes, and people at work in industrial settings ranging from automobile plants to paper mills. Researchers will find photographs relating to U.S. industry as well as business operations in Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Photograph collections documenting Latin American business include:

United Fruit Company Photograph Collection, 1891–1962

Mss: 1 1891–1962 U860
78 boxes, approx. 10,400 photographs in 75 albums and 3 folders
Collection Guide

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The United Fruit Company was formed in 1899 by the merger of the Boston Fruit Company with several other companies producing and marketing bananas from the Caribbean islands, Central America, and Colombia. By the early 1930s, the company had absorbed more than twenty rival firms, making it the largest employer in Central America. The company came to own or lease properties in Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, and other countries of Central and South America and the West Indies. The images in this collection depict planting, spraying, irrigation, and harvesting, as well as the construction and operation of the company’s units and research laboratories, which produced bananas, sugar, abaca (for use as hemp), cacao, palm oil, cattle, and mahogany. Also recorded is evidence of hardships and damage suffered from floods, windstorms, and fire. These corporate documents capture a way of life in company towns and villages—from construction and running of railroads and wharves to daily scenes in company-built schools, hospitals, worker homes, and recreational facilities.

La Luz Mining and Tunnel Company Photograph Album,
John Horgan, Jr., photographer. 1905.

BOC: QG 88.4 L212

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This promotional album of 119 images was most likely assembled to attract investors to the La Luz Mining and Tunneling Company, which was located near Silao, Guanajuato, in Mexico. The album depicts various aspects of mining in the Cubilete Mountains of Guanajuato state. It contains numerous images showing the mountains and geologic features surrounding the mine, the mine tunnel, mine equipment, and the miners digging, carrying, sorting, and sifting ore. Several images depict the town of La Luz, nearby mines, and the cities of Guanajuato, Silao, Leon, Cuernavaca, and Mexico City.

Pan-American Photograph Collection, 1913–1934

Mss: 1416 1913–1934 P187
9 boxes, approx. 611 photographs
Collection Guide

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The images in this collection came from companies operating in Latin America or from government officials representing their nation’s business interests, including agriculture, logging, mining, petroleum, communications, banking, and manufacturing. Researchers will find views of field laborers splitting cacao pods, scenes of busy Jamaican sugar wharves, and early twentieth-century architectural details of cities where the Companhia Rêde Telephonica Bragantina held properties.