Financial History Collection

A collaboration between Beinecke Library and the International Center for Finance

The International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management Collection of Financial History is one of Beinecke Library’s more recent initiatives.  It is a collaborative undertaking with the Yale School of Management and reflects the recognition that the preservation and study of historical documents is vital to broader scholarship on the role of capital markets in society.  The collection was founded in 2001 with an initial matching gift from an anonymous donor.  Recent acquisitions include documents relating to the development of capital markets in Europe, Colonial America and the United States.  

Highlights of the early European material include a bond issued by the first modern corporation, the Dutch East India Company, and a bond from the Lekdijk Bovendams water board of 1648, a perpetuity that continues to pay interest.  The early American financial documents include a significant portion of the former Donaldson, Lufkin, Jenrette Collection of materials relating to the financing of the American Revolution (Uncat MSS 516). Many of the items in the collection can be viewed in the Beinecke Digital Library by searching for the term Finance.
A key strength of the collection is a group of materials related to Het Groote Tafereel or the Great Mirror of Folly, the 1720 Dutch compilation about the South Sea Bubble. A separate collections highlight page includes full scans of many printed versions of this work.
The Beinecke collections include a number of other documents related to the history of Finance.  Among these are the Spinelli Archive and a complete run of The New York Shipping and Commercial List.  The latter contains the official price list of the New York Stock Exchange from 1816 to 1854, and can also be accessed by researchers via the data site of the International Center for Finance.
ORBIS, the Yale Library database, can be searched using keyword terms such as Finance, History, Taxation, Revenue, and Investments as well as genre terms such as Stock certificates, Bonds, and Account Books.
More recently added items in Beinecke Library can be found in the Uncataloged Acquisitions database under the search term Finance.
The International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management has a permanent exhibit of documents from the history of financial innovation on display at 46 Hillhouse Avenue.  This exhibit is accessible via the ICF website.