The J. and W. Seligman Company, established in 1864, was one of America's early investment banking houses and provided a strong connection between the United States and Europe. The firm grew from Joseph Seligman, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1837 and worked for Asa Packer in Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe) Pennsylvania before becoming an itinerant peddler. With his savings, Joseph financed the immigration of his seven brothers, one sister, and parents over a period of years. Joseph's brothers--William, James, Henry, Jesse, Leopold, Isaac and Abraham--would play a role in the development of the Joseph and William Seligman firm. His sister, Babette, would marry Max Stettheimer and bring another into the family's ventures.
The Seligman archives contain the history of the family and some records of the various ventures of the brothers before the decision to enter investment banking. The years as peddlers and store keepers are not fully covered by correspondence, however, but by recollections of family members. The banking years began in New York in 1862, and a Frankfurt, Germany branch opened in 1864. For short periods there were branches in New Orleans, and San Francisco. The latter, the Anglo-California Bank, was subsequently acquired by the Crocker Bank. Eventually there would be branches in London and Paris, all guided by the New York office.
The Seligman archives take a variety of forms but reflect the internal correspondence between the partners in various branches as they bought and sold bonds, formed syndicates, and shipped gold or silver, as well as personal letters about the family or family matters.
Albert and Frederick Strauss were hired in 1866 and became the first non-family managing partners in 1901.
In addition, there are 23 boxes of letters, photographs, and clippings about the firm from its beginning to the present. These include a photograph of Mary Todd Lincoln and an appeal by Joseph Seligman to President Grant to take action to provide for presidential widows. Other photographs include Wall Street, several U.S. Presidents, financiers, and railroad scenes.
The Seligman Archives continue to grow as more materials are received from the firm.