W.R. Grace & Co. records, 1828-1986 bulk 1861-1960
William Russell Grace (1832-1904) and Michael Paul Grace (1842-1920) emigrated from Ireland during the 1850s and set up in
business respectively in New York and Callao, Peru as ship's chandlers (boat supplies). They soon developed into shipping
brokers and later owned their own fleet, the beginning of the present-day Grace Line. Grace companies were established in
San Francisco and London. W.R. Grace was active in New York City politics (Mayor, 1881-1882, and 1885-1886), banking and insurance,
real estate interests, and Catholic charities.
Scope and Contents
The records of W.R. Grace & Co. cover the rise of the Grace shipping business from 1864 until World War II. The early correspondence
concerns all aspects of the shipping business in New York and South America, mining interests in Peru and Chile, the railroad
in Costa Rica, the inter-ocean canal planned for Nicaragua, and political interests throughout Central and South America.
There are letter books, correspondence, and scrapbooks of clippings for all aspects of W.R. Grace's career. There are minute
books and other documents for more than 50 subsidiary companies owned by W.R. Grace & Co. or by family members. The papers
of Joseph Peter Grace (1872-1950) continue the business, family, and philanthropic activities until 1942. There are also 20
reels of motion picture film about the Grace Co. South American interests in the 1950s. This wide-ranging collection of correspondence,
administrative records, motion pictures, scrapbooks, and other materials details the development of the W.R. Grace & Co. shipping
business as well as more than fifty other companies owned by the company or the Grace family. Apart from merchant and trade
activities, prominent topics covered in the collection include mining, railroads, the construction of a trans-Isthmian canal,
and South American, Central American, and United States politics.