Archival Collections
Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Harper & Brothers Records, 1817-1929 

Harper & Brothers
Phys. Desc: 
103 linear feet (28 boxes: 24 document boxes, 1 half-document box, 1 index card box, 2 oversize boxes; 230 volumes in CMI boxes; 1 painting; 1 printing plate)
Call Number: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Online information

Biographical Note

J. & J. Harper was founded in 1817 by James and John Harper, using family funds. Brothers Wesley and Fletcher joined the family business in 1823 and 1825, respectively. Due to their early adoption of stereotyping technology, by 1825 they had become the largest volume publisher in New York City.

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence with the authors, including contracts signed with authors as well as negotiations with the authors over various aspects of publishing their works; financial records documenting many aspects of the operation of Harper & Brothers, including royalties paid to authors, records of stock offerings and company reorganizations, and general ledgers which contain daily notes on all aspects of the operation of the business; book catalogues and trade lists; research materials collected by Eugene Exman for his history of Harper & Brothers; visual materials, from drawings and photographs of Harper's authors to colophon designs and an oil painting of the original Harper's building.