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Getting Started: Hershey Trust Company

Hershey Trust Company pamphlet announcing its new location, September 30, 1905
Hershey Trust Company pamphlet announcing its new location, September 30, 1905

How do we know what we know about the past? Historians, researchers and students study the materials cared for in an archives to learn more about the past. Photographs, newspapers, business reports, and other documents provide clues. When pieced together, the history of a time or organization emerges. The more clues, the fuller our understanding of the past.

While today the main focus of the Hershey Trust Company  is managing the Milton Hershey School trust fund, that was not its original purpose. At the Hershey Community Archives, there are a variety of documents that can help us understand the early history of this business.

Documents such as the Hershey Trust Company’s by-laws offer information about the legal organization of the new business as well as its established operating hours:


Hours of Business
The Hershey Trust Company shall be open for the transaction of business every day from 9 o’clock a.m. to 3 o’clock p.m., except Sundays and legal holidays.

Other documents in the Archives’ collections provide information about its funding, financial transactions and annual audits of its assets. The Archives collection includes ledgers and cash books, annual statements and a variety of ephemera that helps us understand how Hershey Trust Company served the public. For example, a pamphlet printed by the Trust Company provides information about its early operations.

The pamphlet, printed on September 30, 1905, announced its move to a new location (Cocoa House).  Included in its pages is a list of the Hershey Trust Company functions:


  • Receives money on deposit, subject to check.
  • Issues time certificates of deposit for money left with the Company for six months or longer, on which interest will be paid at the rate of three per cent, per annum.
  • Acts as executor, administrator, trustee, guardian, assignee, receiver, and buys and sells securities suitable for trust estates.
  • Collects incomes and rents, and takes general charge of real and personal estate.
  • Buys and sells notes, bonds, mortgages, commercial paper and approved securities.
  • Acts as financial agent for individuals and corporations.
  • Loans money on mortgages and other approved collateral securities.
  • Receives for safe keeping securities and valuables of every description.
  • Transacts a general trust business.

Other sources of information about the early operations of the Hershey Trust Company can be found in the Paul A. Wallace Collection and the Archives’ photograph collection. The Hershey Press (a weekly newspaper in publication from 1909-1926) contains news stories about the early Trust Company and is filled with advertisements providing information to researchers about how Hershey Trust Company presented itself to the public. Archives contain the keys to learning about the past. It is up to the researcher to study the clues and organize them so that we can better understand the past.

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