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European Economic History & Philosophy

Explore the Kress Collection of Business and Economics—one of the premier rare book collections in the world for the study of business.
Kress Library
Baker Library, Harvard Business School

The Kress Collection includes rare books, pamphlets, broadsides, manuscripts, and prints, most of which date from 1474 to 1850. Of particular note are materials related to the history of political economy, economic philosophy, finance, agriculture, and trades and manufactures.

New directions in research continue to bring to light valuable resources within the collection that concern an expanding range of disciplines, including the history of technology, African American and gender studies, and social and cultural history.

These works were gathered through the collecting efforts of the British economist Herbert Somerton Foxwell and acquired by HBS in the 1930s through the generous donation of Claude Washington Kress

Adam Smith—Vanderblue Collection

This comprehensive collection of the works of Adam Smith has a special focus on The Wealth of Nations. It includes:

  • Virtually all published editions in English of The Wealth of Nations, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and Essays on Philosophical Subjects 
  • Translations into Chinese, French, Russian, and numerous other languages
  • Many of Smith’s other published materials, manuscript letters, and several volumes from Smith’s own library

Harvard Business School Professor Homer B. Vanderblue donated the collection in 1939, and it is cataloged in the Vanderblue Memorial Collection of Smithiana.

South Sea Bubble—Bancroft Collection

The South Sea Bubble Collection is a group of specialized research resources focused on the South Sea Bubble stock market crisis and the speculative mania that swept Europe in the early part of the 18th century. One part history and one part cautionary tale, the South Sea Bubble financial crisis continues to intrigue scholars and warn investors nearly 300 years after it occurred. The collection includes:

  • Books, broadsides, and pamphlets
  • Parliamentary documents
  • Manuscripts and ephemera

Bleichröder Print Collection

 The Fight of the Money-Bags and the Coffers. Print by Pieter van der Heyden.
Pieter van der Heyden, The Fight of the Money-Bags and the Coffers HOLLIS record
Baker Library, Harvard Business School.

Containing more than 1,000 woodcuts, engravings, etchings, and lithographs ranging in date from the 16th to the 19th century, this collection features work from prominent artists, like Breughel, Goltzius, Rembrandt, Hogarth, and Gillray. Some of the subjects include:

  • Views of stock exchanges, banks, mints, and treasuries
  • Portraits of bankers, statesmen, and financiers
  • Political and personal satires
  • National finance and taxation, speculation, and credit

Many items from the collection are available digitally in the online exhibit Coin and Conscience.

Making of the Modern World

Available to the Harvard community, this online resource combines the strengths of the Kress Collection and the Goldsmiths' Library of Economic Literature at the University of London Library to provide images from 61,000 works of literature on economic and business published from 1450 through 1850. Full-text searching provides researchers access to material on commerce, finance, social conditions, politics, trade and transport.

Making of the Modern World


Accessing These Materials

All materials are available for use in Baker Library's de Gaspé Beaubien Reading Room. 

Please note that due to the fragility of some pieces, you may be asked to begin your research with digitized versions of content.


Baker Library Special Collections