collection F001 - United Fruit Company fonds

Zone d'identification




United Fruit Company fonds


  • 1912-2004 (Production)

Niveau de description


Étendue matérielle et support

52 cm of textual records (4 boxes)
7 photographs: b&w; 19 x 24 cm or smaller
4 maps: 55 x 91 cm or smaller

Zone du contexte

Nom du producteur


Histoire administrative

The United Fruit Company was an American corporation formed on 30 March 1899 as a result of a merger of the Boston Fruit Company headed by Andrew Preston and Lorenzo Dow Baker, and the Costa Rican, Panamanian and Colombian railroad and plantation holdings of American railroad financier Minor C. Keith’s Tropical Trading & Transport Company.

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Andrew Preston served as the company’s first president until his death in 1924. In 1930, the United Fruit Company acquired Cuyamel Fruit Company, a competitor company headed by Samuel Zemurray, who went on to become managing director in charge of operations, then president of the company from 1938 to 1951.

By the mid-1900s, the United Fruit Company controlled (owned or leased) property made available to them by governments in multiple Caribbean and Central and South American countries including in Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica and Panama. The company imported products grown on its plantations in Latin America (primarily bananas but also sugar, cocoa and other tropical products) transporting them to sell in North American and European markets.

Thomas E. Sunderland served as company president from 1960-1968. In 1970, the United Fruit Company merged with Eli Black’s AMK Corporation, renaming this new entity the United Brands Company. Following the suicide and bribery scandal involving Black and company operations in Honduras, the company rebranded itself as Chiquita Brands International in 1990.

Nom du producteur

(c. 1900-2003)

Histoire administrative

The Chiriqui Land Company was a United Fruit Company subsidiary, operating plantations in the Sixaola District in Costa Rica and the Bocas del Toro and Armuelles divisions in Panama.

Histoire archivistique

Material in this fonds consists primarily of corporate records created and/or received by the Chiriqui Land Company, a United Fruit Company (UFC) subsidiary that spanned the borders of Costa Rica and Panama. UFC central headquarters in the United States of America had ordered the material to be destroyed but had been retained in an attic of a semi-abandoned warehouse of the Costa Rican Chiriqui Land Company plantation. In the early 1980s when Philippe Bourgois was doing his fieldwork, the warehouse manager gave Bourgois permission to take whatever documents he wanted back with him to the United States. In May 2019, the material was sold and transferred to the University of Toronto Mississauga Library.

Source immédiate d'acquisition ou de transfert

Purchased from P. Bourgois, 2019.

Zone du contenu et de la structure

Portée et contenu

Fonds contains primarily corporate records created, received, or used by management within the Chiriqui Land Company. Records include correspondence, memoranda, monthly production statistics and financial reports, personnel records, annotated newspaper clippings, some maps and photographs. The fonds consists of the following series:

  • Series 1: Government relations
  • Series 2: Labour & ethnicity
  • Series 3: Labour supply & conditions
  • Series 4: Labour organizing
  • Series 5: Marcus Garvey
  • Series 6: Non-thematic groupings
  • Series 7: Interdivision visits & reports
  • Series 8: Statistics & reports
  • Series 9: Chronologically organized letters
  • Series 10: Maps & photographs

Évaluation, élimination et calendrier de conservation


No further accruals expected.

Mode de classement

The original order of the records as they were maintained by the Chiriqui Land Company is unknown as this current fonds consists of only the portion that Philippe Bourgois selected from the original archive. He organized this selection into file folders, labelled and arranged them thematically in the 1980s for the purposes of his doctoral thesis and the resulting monograph Ethnicity at Work: Divided Labor on a Central American Banana Plantation. The themes are:

  • Development of monopoly power relationships with host-country governments
  • Organization of ethnic-specific strategies to increase labour control
  • Repression of labor discontent and labor-union organizing

Portions of the material were subsequently copied, some originals interfiled with copies, lent out, extracted then re-filed with other material, and otherwise rearranged over the years. Bourgois’ ‘original order’ has been retained when both discernable and meaningful, but otherwise arranged by the archivist.

Zone des conditions d'accès et d'utilisation

Conditions d’accès

Restricted to protect the privacy of third parties and/or for preservation purposes. Contact the Archives & Special Collections Staff ( for information about accessing these records.

Conditions de reproduction

UTM Library does not own copyright. The user is responsible for obtaining permission from all applicable rights holders to publish any part of the material.

Langue des documents

  • anglais
  • espagnol

Écriture des documents

Notes de langue et graphie

Caractéristiques matérielle et contraintes techniques

Instruments de recherche

Instrument de recherche téléversé

Zone des sources complémentaires

Existence et lieu de conservation des originaux

Existence et lieu de conservation des copies

Unités de description associées

See also the Philippe Bourgois fonds at UTM Library, Archives & Special Collections (forthcoming).

The following related collections can be found at Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University:

Descriptions associées

Zone des notes


Processing of Spanish language material and translation of the fonds-level finding aid description into Spanish by Juan Antonio Bobadilla, funded by the Critical Digital Humanities Initiative (CDHI)’s Winter 2022 Undergraduate Student Fellowship.

Spanish finding aid forthcoming.

Identifiant(s) alternatif(s)




Mots-clés - Sujets

Mots-clés - Lieux

Mots-clés - Noms

Zone du contrôle de la description

Identifiant de la description

Identifiant du service d'archives

Règles et/ou conventions utilisées

Dates de production, de révision, de suppression

Created: 20 July 2022, T. Shida & J. A. Bobadilla




Zone des entrées

Sujets associés

Personnes et organismes associés

Lieux associés