Jacob Adams Account Book, 1673-1693
Full text available as a networked resource
Jacob Adams, a New England cobbler and farmer in Newbury, Massachusetts, recorded a web of credits and debits—and one dunning notice sent to a friend who owed him money—in this homemade account book from 1673 to 1693. The book, bound in rawhide and sewn with linen thread, chronicles the family’s activity in farming and household management as well as shoemaking. Jacob Adams’ is the oldest North American account book in the library’s collections.

Briggs Motor Sales Company Records, 1925-1946
Collection Guide
The Briggs Motor Sales collection offers a relatively rare glimpse into the way an early twentieth-century car dealership helped its customers find credit to finance their automobile purchases. The collection consists of financial records, tax records, and correspondence of George R. Briggs, an automobile dealer of Plymouth, Mass., who handled the Dodge, Nash, Ajax, Austin, and Packard lines. The collection also contains information on relations with the manufacturers, their Boston-area outlets, local banks, and large credit financing operations.

Daniel Douglas Account Book, 1795-1813
Collection Record
Daniel Douglas, a general storekeeper of Freetown, Mass., recorded his customer’s credits and debits in this leather-bound account book. The account book is representative of business practices and bookkeeping techniques current in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Baker Library Historical Collections contains numerous account books of small proprietors dating from the late seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries.

Dun & Bradstreet Corporation Records, 1831-1990
Collection Guide
The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation Records contain a vast array of materials that document the history and evolution of America’s first credit reporting firm. Coverage extends from the firm’s first iteration as the Mercantile Agency, then becoming B. Douglass & Co., R. G. Dun & Co., and finally Dun & Bradstreet. A separate series covers the firm’s biggest rival, Bradstreet & Co., until the two firms merged in 1933. The records include correspondence, legal, financial, administrative records, and some visual material pertaining to the company.

R. G. Dun & Co. Credit Report Volumes, 1840-1895
Collection Guide
Guide to Using the Collection
The collection contains 2,580 volumes of credit reports from the first American commercial reporting agency. Reporters in the field initially collected information on the net worth, duration of business, source of wealth, and character and reputation of individuals and firms. Clerks copied the information, much abbreviated, into the ledgers, which were organized by state and then by county. The collection is notable as a source for social history as well as business history: small entrepreneurs—many of them women, African-Americans, or recent immigrants—are extensively covered.

Hancock Family Papers, 1712-1854
Collection Guide
The business papers of Boston’s Hancock family contain many examples of the credit instruments that early American merchants devised to circumvent the scarcity of cash in the colonial economy. The collection chronicles the business dealings of wealthy colonial merchant Thomas Hancock and his nephew John Hancock, president of the Second Continental Congress, governor of Massachusetts, and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Though the bulk of the collection concerns business affairs, it also contains information on politics, social, military and legal history during the colonial and early Federal periods.

Monte di Pietà (Rome, Italy), 1574-1643
This collection consists of three account books of the Roman Monte di Pietà, a form of charitable pawnshop that spread throughout Catholic Europe beginning in the mid-fifteenth century. Founded with the hope of driving exploitative moneylenders out of business, the monti charged only enough interest to cover administrative expenses. The account books give details of the items that borrowers brought in as collateral, and the money they were loaned. Most entries are crossed out, indicating that the money was repaid and the pledge reclaime

New England Bond & Mortgage Company Records, 1922-1934
Collection Guide
These company records contain rare materials illuminating the workings of home finance in the 1920s and early 1930s. New England Bond & Mortgage Co. was incorporated in 1922, during the real estate boom of the early 1920s, and was engaged in the first and second mortgage business until 1934, when the firm went into receivership. In 1929 the firm organized the New England Management Corporation to take over and manage foreclosed properties.