Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America

Archives related to: Brown, Alexander, 1764-1834

titleRecords of Alex. Brown & Sons
repositoryLibrary of Congress
descriptionThe records of Alex. Brown & Sons span the years 1796-1908, with the bulk of the material dating from 1796 to 1884. Included are business records of successor companies, subsidiaries, and allied business. The records document the commercial and financial activities of Alexander Brown, his sons, and their successors, showing the development of their banking house in conjunction with extensive import-export operations, the building of ships and worldwide trade activities, and the building of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. They also reflect the company's change from a mercantile to an international banking house having connections with Brown, Shipley & Company of Liverpool, and with Brown Brothers & Company, of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The records are organized into the following series: Lettercopy Books, Letterpress Books, Daybooks, Cashbooks, Ledgers, Sterling Ledgers, Ledger Sight Bills, Journals, Sales Books, Waste Books, Accounts Current, Blotters, and Miscellany.

The firm of Alex. Brown & Sons was founded by Alexander Brown, an Irish immigrant who came to Baltimore in 1797 and engaged in the mercantile business as an importer of Irish linen. The records are largely confined to the operations of the firm's outlets in Baltimore, which served as the American headquarters for the firm's chain of offices from 1800 to 1840. Lettercopy and letterpress books generally provide a continuous, daily record of the branch's outgoing correspondence with other offices in the organization and with the branch's out-of-town customers from 1800 to 1879.

Letterbooks, in the collection contain detailed information concerning political, civil, and military affairs affecting the firm. The Lettercopy Books series, consisting of letters sent, includes records of the Falls and Brown Company, 1803-1804. The Letterpress Books series is organized into three subseries. Set A includes records similar to those in the Lettercopy Books series and is distinguished from them chiefly by the copying method. Set B is comprised of letterpress copies of letters sent to Brown Shipley & Company, London, England. The letterpress copies in Set C are of letters sent to Brown Brothers & Company, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia offices.

The collection also includes financial records in a variety of formats. Daybooks are daily journals of business transactions in the order of their occurrence. Cashbooks record money received and paid out, showing date of transaction, name of customer or client, description of the transaction, and amounts received and expended. Ledgers contain postings to accounts receivable and accounts payable; they include ledgers of Falls & Brown, Baltimore, 1796-1810. Sterling Ledgers contain postings to accounts receivable and accounts payable of Alex. Brown & Sons sterling operations. Ledger Sight Bills contain a record of journal postings by bill number. Journals contain daily entries from daybooks and blotters. Sales Books appear to be logs of customer sales. Waste Books are daily journals of business transactions in the order of their occurrence; one book is from Stewart Brown, Philadelphia, and Falls & Brown, Baltimore. Accounts Current appear to be summaries of accounts receivable and accounts payable. Account entries include account name, transaction date, and description. Blotters are daily journals of business transactions.

The Miscellany series includes journals and ledgers of the Union Railroad Company sinking fund, credit rating and statements books, minute books of the Aransas Pass Harbor Company of which Brown and Sons Company was a bondholder and trustee, and of the Female Orphan Asylum, Baltimore. Also in the series is a book containing signatures of persons authorized to conduct business with Brown & Sons Company.

The collection also includes records of other Brown family firms, such as the firms of Stewart Brown, of Philadelphia, an older brother of Alexander Brown, 22 April 1796- 30 May 1797; and of Moore Falls and Stewart Brown of the firm of Falls & Brown, of Baltimore, 1797-1810. These records are not necessarily noted specifically in the descriptions below.
extentca. 80,000 items; 266 containers; 51 linear feet
formatsCorrespondence Business Papers Financial Records
accessContact repository for restrictions.
record source
finding aidOnline and in repository.
acquisition informationThe records of the firm of Alex. Brown & Sons were given to the Library of Congress in 1954 by Benjamin H. Griswold III on behalf of the firm.
updated03/16/2023 10:29:51

titleBrown Brothers & Company records, 1825-1889, bulk (1830s-1870s). (MssCol 410)
repositoryNew York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division
descriptionCollection consists of accounting records of Brown Brothers & Co. and its allied enterprise, Brown, Shipley & Co. Most of the records cover the years when James Brown was a partner and include journals, 1828-1853, and ledgers, 1825-1880. There are also journals, 1837-1880, for Brown, Shipley & Co. Other records include letter books, consignments, custom house entries, records of sales, and accounts of New Orleans and Havana offices of Brown, Shipley & Co.

Historical Notes:
Alexander Brown (1764-1834) emigrated from Ireland to Baltimore in 1800 and opened a dry goods business with which his four sons became associated. One son, John (1788-1872), opened a branch in Philadelphia in 1818 and expanded the business to include foreign exchange transactions. Another son, James (1791-1877) established Brown Brothers & Co. in New York City in 1825 and eventually absorbed the other branches. In addition, Brown Brothers & Co. was associated with the English firm of Brown, Shipley & Co. which was run by another brother, William Brown (1784-1864). In the early 1830s James Brown sold the dry goods portion of the company and concentrated on banking and trade. Thereafter, Brown Brothers & Co. became one of the most successful American banking houses. A 1930 merger created the present firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co.
extent45 linear feet (176 v.)
formatsBusiness Papers Correspondence Journals
accessApply in Special Collections Office for admission to the Manuscripts and Archives Division.
record link
record source
finding aidCollection guide available in repository and on internet:,1,1,B/l856~b2753095&FF=tbrown+brothers+and+company+record&1,1,,1,0/startreferer//search/tBrown+Brothers+%26+Company+record/tbrown+brothers+and+company+record/1,1,1,B/frameset&FF=tbrown+brothers+and+company+record&1,1,/endreferer/
acquisition informationReceived from Brown Brothers Harriman & Co, February 1936.
updated11/12/2014 11:29:55

titleJoseph Shipley (1795-1867) Papers, 1741-1898 [photoprints and microfilm].
repositoryHagley Museum and Library
descriptionThe records consist of photocopies of two separate collections of Shipley family papers preserved by descendants, Mrs. Gordon S. Hargraves and Mrs. Henry W. Farnum.

Joseph Shipley of Wilmington, Del., and Liverpool, England, was a merchant and banker and a partner in the Anglo-American banking houses later known as Brown Brothers & Company and Brown, Shipley & Company.
Joseph Shipley was born in Wilmington, Del., on December 4, 1795. His great-grandfather, William Shipley, had come to Philadelphia from Leicestershire in 1725. In 1735 he settled in Wilmington. His only son, Thomas Shipley, purchased a part of the Brandywine water power and established the flour mills that were the foundation of the family fortune.
Joseph Shipley’s business career began in 1813 in the Philadelphia counting house of his cousin, Samuel Canby, Jr. In 1819 he went to Liverpool as an agent for John Welsh, a Philadelphia merchant. By 1822 the firm of Shipley, Welsh & Company was active in financing Anglo-American trade, particularly the shipment of cotton to England. Shipley attained a high reputation, which resulted in his being offered a partnership in the house of William & James Brown & Co. in 1826.
Alexander Brown, the father of Sir William and James Brown, had established Alexander Brown & Sons in Baltimore in 1800. Branches were established as William & James Brown & Co. in Liverpool in 1810, John A. Brown & Co. in Philadelphia in 1818, and Brown Brothers & Co. in New York in 1825. William Brown was in poor health, and Shipley handled most of the day-to-day management of the Liverpool office. He was rewarded by being made a partner of all four Brown firms in 1836. In recognition of his services during the Panic of 1837, particularly in negotiations with the Bank of England that saved the credit of the firm, the Liverpool office was renamed Brown, Shipley & Co. in 1839. Brown Brothers emerged from the crisis as one of the strongest Anglo-American banking houses, rivalled only by the Barings.
Joseph Shipley retired in 1850 and returned to Delaware, where he constructed a country estate, Rockwood, in Brandywine Hundred north of Wilmington. He resided there until his death on May 9, 1867.
extent1.2 linear ft.
formatsPhotoprints Microfilm
accessNo restrictions on use.
record source
finding aidUnpublished finding aid available at the repository.
acquisition informationOriginals privately owned.
updated11/12/2014 11:29:55