PriceWaterhouseCoopers Archive 148 linear feet in 98 record cartons and 4 flat boxes. Biography/History

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PriceWaterhouseCoopers Archive

148 linear feet in 98 record cartons and 4 flat boxes.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, one of the world's top accountancy firms has been created in 1998 by the merger of two companies, Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand - each with historical roots going back some 150 years to the 19th century Great Britain. The collection of PWC archival materials, donated to Columbia University in 2000, traces the rise of both companies to become major worldwide professional services powerhouses through mergers and business expansion.
In the 1890s both companies established their presence in the United States. The American accounting as a profession was then a new undertaking with limited experience, little or no organized training facilities and practically no authoritative means of establishing and enforcing professional standards. Early founders of both firms were deeply involved in professional organizations of the time, and were instrumental in establishing the standards and terminology of the nascent accounting profession. By maintaining a firm stand on matters of professional ethics and by relying on British practice and precedent these accountants played an important role in developing American auditing standards. Influenced by market environment legislative decisions and technological advances Price Waterhouse & Co. and Coopers & Lybrand were to a large extent developing along similar lines.
Price Waterhouse
In 1850 Samuel Lowell Price sets up his accounting business in London. In 1865 he was joined in partnership by William H. Holyland and Edwin Waterhouse, and by 1874 the company name changes to Price, Waterhouse & Co. In 1873 the firm conducted their first US project. The growing US practice lead to the establishment of permanent PW presence in the Western hemisphere, which began with the opening of the office on 45 Broadway New York City in 1890 by a company agent Lewis D. Jones. He was soon joined in America by William J. Caesar, who opened an office in Chicago. In 1895 the newly created Jones Caesar & Co. was designated as an agent of Price Waterhouse. After Jones' early death Arthur L. Dickinson replaced retiring Caesar as a senior partner of the American firm. The firm enjoyed solid reputation and high business volume. By the turn of the century, it built up a roster of clients, which covered a wide range of industrial and commercial fields in most sections of the country. Branch offices began to open throughout the USA and then in other parts of the world. In 1907 Joseph E. Sterett, an American with his own successful practice, joins the company. Thus, the American firm's name changed from Jones, Caesar, Dickinson, Wilmot, & Co. to Dickinson, Wilmot, & Sterret. By the time of Dickinson's retirement as a senior partner in 1911 the firm grows large enough to need the committee structure. In 1913 the name of American firm is dropped in favor of the English name Price Waterhouse & Co.
The 100 years of Price Waterhouse history in America divide into three periods, each characterized by its own problems and dilemmas. The first era, 1890s to late 1920s, saw the Americanization of the practice, and the rise of the firm around professionally autonomous partners. The second era, from the early 1930s to the late 1960s, marked the dominance of PW in the regulated monolithic environment, in which the accounting profession functioned at the time. The securities laws of the early 1930s pushed the audit to the center of firm's practice. During the 'golden age' of 1950s the flow of capital to Europe led PW to establish the international firm. The same time period witnessed the start of series of mergers at home. The third era 1970 to 1990s saw the reformulation of the agenda in a period of radical change in both marketplace and the profession. The steady absorption of the more successful local and regional practices in the Big Eight (later Big Six) accelerated. Price Waterhouse World Firm was formed in 1982. Innovations in technology brought changes to traditional work pattern. Shifting client base, wave of litigations, changes in service mix, and additional standards, established by SEC and Congress, led to increase in overhead costs. All these factors eroded industry structure established in 1930s. Greater competitiveness led to dismantling of earlier professional prohibitions against advertising. Price competition in audit wars and industry mergers led Price Waterhouse, which always focused on auditing, to start admitting non-CPA's and expand management consulting services.
Coopers & Lybrand
In 1854 William Cooper established his own practice in London, which seven years later becomes Cooper Brothers. Firm's history in the United States began in 1898, when Robert H. Montgomery, William M. Lybrand, Adam A. Ross Jr., and his brother T. Edward Ross form Lybrand, Ross Brothers, and Montgomery (LRB&M) in Philadelphia. During the early 20th century their offices spread around the country and then in Europe. The explosive growth ended with Great Depression. The firm was forced to reorganize organizational structure, and to shift the focus from expansion toward flexible specialization, such as finding new types of services (tax services, management consulting) for existing clientele. In the 1930s LRB&M was engaged by the federal government to investigate several banks and trust companies throughout the United States - the work of unprecedented magnitude, ranging from an investigation to a detailed audit followed by liquidation proceedings.
After the death of Col. Montgomery in 1953, the new generation of leaders came to the fore: Alvin R. Jennings Walter A. Staub Philip L. Defliese Norman E. Auerbach. Under their leadership the firm experienced a major transformation from medium-size company, focused on auditing and primarily national in scope, into a multinational player with a growing mix of consulting services. The boldest step was a 1957 merger between Cooper Brothers & Co (UK), McDonald, Currie and Co (Canada), and Lybrand, Ross Bros., & Montgomery (US), forming Coopers & Lybrand, a truly international powerhouse operating through 79 offices in 19 countries. 1950s also saw the addition of an autonomous line of specialization in management consulting services. The company acquired more formal organizational structure, and continued a policy of selective mergers, including an important addition of Scovell Vellington & Co. in 1962. In 1973 American firm adopted the name Coopers & Lybrand. Globalization and information boom led to increased interest in Knowledge Management adding it to the existing mix of professional services. In 1990 Coopers & Lybrand merged with Deloitte Haskins & Sells in a number of countries around the world. Finally, in 1998 Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand merge worldwide to become PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Summary: The collection is clearly divided into two record groups: Price Waterhouse & Co. archival materials and Coopers & Lybrand archival materials. The documents from the offices Price Waterhouse & Co. materials include original company documents, accounting books, and other records created by Price Waterhouse or the firms that have subsequently merged with it. The group further contains papers of George O. May, (led the company from 1911 to 1926), files from the office of Herman W. Bevis (led the company from 1961 to 1969), company publications and library of book related to accounting. This group also includes the files of historical research conducted by Winthrop Group for Centennial of Price Waterhouse in America (1990), oral history tapes and transcripts, videos and digital materials. Coopers & Lybrand materials include original company documents, accounting books, and other records created by Lybrand, Ross Brothers & Montgomery, Coopers Brothers and other firms that have subsequently merged to form Coopers & Lybrand. A large collection of printed materials contains first editions, manuals, brochures and periodicals. Also included are files and audio recordings of James Mahon (LRB&M National Director of Practice Development), and files from the office of Catherine "Millie" McGovern, C&L manager and event coordinator. Numerous audiovisual materials include photos, video documentaries and oral history records. This record group also includes historical research conducted by the Business History Group for C&L centennial (1998).

Restrictions on Access: Available for faculty, students, or researchers engaged in scholarly or publication projects

Restrictions on Use: none

Provenance: The PWC Archive was donated to Columbia University by PriceWaterhouseCoopers in August 2000. The documents from the offices Price Waterhouse & Co. have been collected by Price Waterhouse Library and Information Center, with additions from May family, files from the office of H. W. Bevis and historical research files from Winthrop Group. Coopers & Lybrand materials include records created by Lybrand, Ross Brothers & Montgomery, Coopers Brothers and other firms that have subsequently merged to form Coopers & Lybrand. James Mahon files were donated to Coopers & Lybrand by Mahon family. Audiovisual materials and large collection of first editions and periodicals was collected by the C&L librarian and then preserved by Catherine "Millie" McGovern, C&L manager and event coordinator. Historical research files for C&L centennial (1998) were created by The Business History Group.

Processing History: Processed by Jane Gorjevsky, Aug. 2001 - Aug. 2002

Microfilm Information: Cash books, 1898 - 1954 are on microfilm. Physical Location: Stored off-site.

RLIN ID: 2000/01-04

Organization of the Papers

Record Group




Box No.

Finding Aid Page No.

Coopers & Lybrand


Cataloged Originals

Account Books

1 - 4, Flat Box 346


Individual Documents

4, Flat Box 346


4, Flat Box 346

Bound Documents

5 - 6

Centennial Research

Firm History Files


Interviews and Bios


Historical Images

7 - 8

Policies and Procedures


8 - 9

Internal Communications

9 - 10

C&L Library files


Client and Partner Companies

11, Flat Box 346

Files of James Mahon


Files of Millie McGovern

Distinguished Partner Awards

11 - 12

PWC Day One


Quarter Century Club

12 - 13

Retirement Parties




Event Planning

13 - 14

Summer Jobs for Youths

14 - 16



Printed Materials


Individual Titles

17, Flat Box 346

Arranged Alphabetically

18 - 19


20 - 21


22 - 29, Flat Box 346

External Publications

29, Flat Box 346


Centennial Book Photos




30, Flat Box 347, Map Case 14-10-5

B&W negatives collection

35 mm Strips


4x5 negatives


Event Photos


30 - 33

Developed Film Rolls

33 - 34

Retirement Parties


Audio Records

Records of James Mahon


Reel-to-reel tapes


Oral History tapes




Digital Files



Distinguished Partners


Centennial Research


Moving Image

Promise of Tomorrow



37, 38 - 40

Retirement Parties

37, 40-41

Art and Ephemera

Flat Box 347-348

Books and Monographs

Books by Robert Montgomery


Books on Accounting

48 - 50

Books on C&L History


Solutions for Business Series monographs


Other monographs


Price Waterhouse & Co


Cataloged documents

Account books

52 - 53

Certificates: George O. May

Flat Box 349

Certificates: Various Employees

Flat Box 349

Files of George O. May

Correspondence By Subject

53 - 72

Chronological Correspondence


Drafts and Notes


Subject Files

73 - 75



Files of Herman W. Bevis

Arranged Correspondence




Subject Files

75 - 76

Centennial Research

Flies of G. O. May

77 - 78

Senior Partners

78 - 79

Background and Working Papers

79 - 80

Reference Material

80 - 83

Oral History

83 - 84

Printed Material


84 - 90


90 - 91

Photographs and Art

91, Flat Box 349

Audio Records

Oral History

92 - 95


95 - 96

Moving Image


Digital files

Oral History

91, 96

May Database

97 ??(change t 96!)

Books and monographs

97 - 98

Coopers & Lybrand Records

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