Kirstein Business Library & Innovation Center

Lower Level, Johnson Building, Central Library, 617 536-5400,

Filene’s Marketing Archives

Filene’s Department Store, a historic New England retailer for nearly 150 years, has donated its marketing archives to the Boston Public Library.

Filene’s was founded by William Filene (1830-1901). In 1849, the store underwent several transformations at downtown addresses including Winter Street and Washington Street. In 1890, Mr. Filene retired and turned over the store’s operation to his two sons, Edward and Lincoln.

The archives, which contain material dating from 1851 to the present, chronicle changes in retail marketing in Boston as well as serving as a history of Filene’s. Promotional materials from the 1950’s through the 1980’s describe celebrity appearances, charity events, store openings, training programs, and marketing campaigns at its Boston and regional stores. Photographs, scrapbooks, press clippings, and videos are among the formats included. These archival materials will enhance the work done by researchers in the area of business and retail marketing history.

The Boston Public Library and Filene’s have a historic connection in the person of Louis Edward Kirstein, who was a vice president of William Filene’s & Sons and a trustee of the Boston Public Library from 1919 to 1942. In 1928, Mr. Kirstein donated a building at 20 City Hall Avenue for use as a downtown Business Library in the name of his father, Edward Kirstein. The Kirstein Business Library was open to the public in May of 1930 and has been serving Boston’s business community well ever since.

Access to the archival material will be made available by appointment through the Special Collections Department. For appointments call 617-859-2225. An index to the material is also available at the Kirstein Business Library.