The United Fruit Company was formed in 1899 when the Boston Fruit Company merged with several other companies. It engaged in the production, transportation, and marketing of bananas, sugar, cocoa, abaca, and other tropical agricultural products.
The United Fruit Company ultimately owned or leased property in Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, and numerous other Central American, South American, and West Indian countries. By 1930, the company had absorbed more than twenty rival firms and was the largest employer in Central America.
Our collection of more than 75 albums from the United Fruit Company includes more than 10,000 photographs, dating from 1891 to 1962, which illustrate the company’s operations. Thousands of images depict planting, spraying, irrigation, and harvesting, as well as construction and operation of the company’s departments and research laboratories, which in addition to fruit, produced palm oil, cattle, and mahogany.
The collection includes evidence of hardships and damage suffered from floods, windstorms, and fire. These corporate records 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.
More than 900 of these photographs have been digitized and are available online.
- Boston Fruit Company records
- Records of companies acquired by the United Fruit Company
- The Henry B. Arthur papers contain information on Latin America agribusiness and additional photographs of the United Fruit Company.
- Baker Library’s Corporate Reports collection has a selection of United Fruit/United Brands annual reports from 1925-1979.