The survey of the manuscript collections fell into two distinct phases over a period of three years. The first phase, managed by Laura Cochrane, primarily concentrated on materials from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These initial survey results were presented in Unheard Voices: Women in the Emerging Industrial and Business Age, a Web site launched in January 2001.
Clara Bouricius, project manager for the second phase, faced two challenges: completing the survey by examining the twentieth century collections and then developing a comprehensive Web guide to all the resources discovered in the course of this project.
> Phase One Summary - Laura Cochrane
> Phase Two Summary - Clara Bouricius
Baker Library, Harvard Business School, is very pleased to present Women, Enterprise and Society: A Guide to Resources in the Business Manuscripts Collection at Baker Library. This Web-based publication identifies materials in the Business Manuscripts Collection at Baker Library that document women's participation in American business and culture from the eighteenth through the twentieth century. The launch of Women, Enterprise and Society represents the culmination of a three-year project to identify and catalog resources for study of this unexplored aspect of the manuscript collections.
Baker Library possesses remarkably comprehensive historical collections documenting the development of business and industry through more than five centuries. Usage of the collections is often indicative of emerging scholarly trends. In recent years, we have noted a marked increase in the study of business growth as it relates to social and cultural developments, as well as a turn toward the exploration of smaller enterprises rather than the more traditional academic focus on large firm history. A by-product of these two trends was an increasing number of scholars studying the role of women in American business. These scholars primarily sought out only one collection, the R.G. Dun & Company Collection of nineteenth-century credit reports, which includes information on hundreds of women entrepreneurs. However, there was always the question of whether or not there were additional materials documenting the historical role of women in business that were as yet undiscovered within Baker Library's extensive manuscript collections.
To answer this question, Baker Library initiated a survey of the Business Manuscripts Collection in 1999. This survey uncovered not only a significant economic record in countless financial and legal documents; it also brought to light unexpectedly rich resources for social and cultural history in a wealth of personal writings. Women, Enterprise and Society records the results of this collection survey.
The contents and organization of Women, Enterprise and Society reflect specifically the materials that were discovered within Baker Library's manuscript collections. It is not intended to be a comprehensive study of the larger topic of women in business. Researchers will find, for example, that the guide does not include papers of major twentieth-century women entrepreneurs or corporate leaders, reflecting the absence of major twentieth-century archival collections at Baker Library. Addressing this gap and building the twentieth-century documentary record is currently a key initiative for the Library. The guide does, however, include hundreds of individual items such as account books, day books, letters, legal documents, and payroll registers. These materials clearly document the extent to which women were an integral part of the fabric of American economic and business life, participating in and contributing to enterprise and society in ways that, until recently, were largely overlooked by scholars.
When Baker Library initiated this survey project, it was unclear whether any materials relevant to understanding women's role in American industry and the economy would be discovered within the manuscript collections. Three years later, we are very pleased to announce that resources from approximately two hundred collections have been identified and described in this new guide. We invite you to visit the site and encourage you to explore it often. Women, Enterprise and Society is a dynamic resource that will grow and evolve as Baker Library continues to acquire new collections and to identify additional resources for inclusion in the guide.
Director of Historical Collections