ABI Inform (1971-) indexes academic management, marketing, and general business journals.
Business Source Complete (early 20th century- )
EconLit (1969- ) indexes articles from over 525 journals. Since 1987 includes books and dissertations. Earlier years available in print in Index to Economic Journals (1886- ) and Index of economic articles in collective volumes (1960- )
Baker Library Historical Collections
If you're willing to take a short walk across the river, you should check out the Baker Library Historical Collections (located in the Baker Library|Bloomberg Center at HBS). Though particularly strong in early American business history, this collection contains international elements as well, including letters and other materials that give insight to the political and social culture of the times. True to the interdisciplinary nature of history, this collection holds materials for researchers interested in more than business records and has ties to several other collections across Harvard.
The current focus in collecting is on 20th and 21st century business and technological innovation. One of their most-used collections is the 19th-century R.G. Dun & Co. (a predecessor to Dun & Bradstreet) credit reports on local businesses, created by lawyers reporting on local companies and individuals, running to more than 2,500 volumes arranged geographically. They also have thousands of company annual reports (1820-date), with a current collecting focus on Fortune 500 and global companies. Individual reports are not in HOLLIS, but are included in an onsite database. They are starting to acquire sustainability and other types of reports and will soon acquire Stanford and UC Berkeley’s annual report collections. Baker Library Historical Collections also boasts a sizeable trade catalog collection (19th-early 20th century) on machinery, textiles, locomotives, etc. All of the catalogs are in HOLLIS and can be searched for under the form/genre term “trade catalogs.”
Researchers engaged in academic work are welcome to use their collections. Appointments are not required, but they do have many materials stored off-site, so it may be best to contact them ahead of time in case they need to request materials for you. More information about planning a visit. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.495.6411.
A small selection of major collections includes:
A vast accumulation of local business records bulking in late 18th-early 20th with strengths in: labor, records of merchants (e.g., Hancock family), farmer’s account books, early financiers (often with Harvard background). Lots on the China trade.
Thomas W. Lamont papers relating to his partnership in J.P. Morgan & Co., his ambassadorship to Great Britain and his input into decision-making in international government policy between WWI and WWII as US financial advisor.
Polaroid Corporation records: administrative and patent/legal material now open. Polaroid was progressive with respect to hiring women and African-Americans.
Kress Collection of Business and Economics contains rare books, pamphlets, broadsides, manuscripts, and prints, from the 15th to the early 20th centuries with traditional strengths in economic philosophy, political economy, commerce, and business history. There is much material on th environment of economics and business: social conditions, politics, public health, trade and transport, etc. Many, but not all, of the pre-1850 titles in the Kress Collection may be found in The Making of the Modern World (MOMW). HOLLIS includes all recently cataloged titles, plus those in MOMW. The most complete point of access to the collection is via a card catalog in the reading room. There is much material on the environment of economics and business: social conditions, politics, public health, transport, etc. Kress is expanding into Eastern Europe and Russia.
Robinson, R. 1990. United States Business History, 1602-1988: A Chronology. NY: Greenwood Press, 643 pp.
Sources for Annual Reports
Annual Reports at Academic Business Libraries is a database locating reports of individual companies in nine major collections including Harvard.
Annual Reports to Shareholders: Historical Collections in Libraries, by Judith M. Nixon (Libraries Research Publications. Paper 123 (2010)) offers an overview of corporate report collections
Proquest Historic Annual Reports offers full text of 800 Fortune 500 companies back to 1844.
Historical Corporate Reports (University of Pennsylvania) (1800s-1975)
Business History Collections