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Eliot Snider Papers

Identifier: P-977

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains documents and artifacts regarding Eliot I. Snider’s involvement in business, public health, philanthropy, politics, education, and his family life. Records describing Massachusetts Lumber Company operations and development primarily consist of its subsidiaries’ ledgers, articles, and publications, with the bulk of the material related to Richardson Dana, and George McQuesten. There is also correspondence with foreign lumber companies and notes on foreign lumber industries that highlight Eliot’s connection to the international lumber trade. Meeting minutes and program materials illustrate the activities of various organizations which Eliot served in a governing capacity, either as a Trustee on the Overseers Board or as Director. Eliot and Ruth took many trips abroad, several of which were as members of professional organizations, such as the Young Presidents Organization. Travel guides, itineraries, maps, receipts, pamphlets and brochures, articles, notes, and postcards document these excursions and conferences. The collection also contains many photographs and slides, the bulk of which depict Eliot’s extensive travels, operations at Massachusetts Lumber, and activities with his family. Statements, receipts, and income tax returns describe the scope of the Sniders’ financial development, activities, and standing. Milestones from Eliot’s family life are presented through correspondence and notes. The collection also includes a series of oversized documents, which include blueprints from the construction of the Snider residence in Swampscott, Massachusetts, diagrams of structures from George McQuesten Company, a large ledger, and other artifacts.

Some folders contain restricted materials, including personal records and confidential documents. These records cannot be accessed without permission from the archivist.


  • undated, 1905-2007


Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

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Use Restrictions

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Biographical Note

Eliot I. Snider was born on April 10, 1921 to Harry and Lena (Korelitz) Snider. Harry Snider was a Lithuanian immigrant, who came to the United States from Vilnius at the turn of the 20th century. In 1917, he founded Massachusetts Lime and Cement Company. Operating as a lime, cement, and lumber yard on a three-acre site on Portland Street in Cambridge, the company was soon renamed the Massachusetts Lumber Company. Eliot's mother Lena was a second cousin of Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz (known as Chazon Ish), who was a leader of the Haredi community in Israel.

Eliot attended Boston Latin School, graduating in 1937. He continued his education at Harvard University, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1941 and, as a Baker Scholar, an MBA with distinction in 1943. After graduate school, Eliot was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve in 1942, where he was assigned to the Naval Ordinance Materials Handling Laboratory in Hingham as an instructor. During his time in the Naval Rsesrve, he met Ruth J. Freund, and the couple married in December 1945.

After his discharge in 1946, Eliot went to work for his father’s company, which had acquired George McQuesten Company in East Boston in 1937. Eliot worked at George McQuesten for six years, until Massachusetts Lumber was rearranged in 1953. The parent company and commercial outlet remained Massachusetts Lumber, while lumber wholesale under George McQuesten was moved from East Boston to North Billerica. Eliot was named President of Massachusetts Lumber and continued to expand company operations through the 1950s and 1960s. Acquiring other companies during this period, Massachusetts Lumber established branches and wholesale warehouses in New York, Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine.

In 1957, the company established Wood Fabricators Inc. to expand commercial operations through fabricating wood products in the relatively new industry of laminated wood beams and arches. Operating the only glue laminating plant in the region at the time, Wood Fabricators Inc. supplied builders and architects creating custom houses and commercial buildings with standard components and design materials. They promoted proprietary products, which cost less to manufacture than their steel counterparts, and engineered roof structures. In 1968, they were issued a patent (#3364646) for WOODBAR, a joist constructed from laminated wood to replace the conventional steel bar joist.

Massachusetts Lumber Company continued to expand operations through subsidiary businesses, such as ForTek (utility pole distribution) and Fortank (specialized tractor trailers). In 1998, business operations were sold to Hood Industries, Inc. of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. This sale included inventory, equipment, and the name McQuesten, but not real estate. The Massachusetts Lumber properties were leased to Hood Industries (d/b/a McQuesten) and the majority of Massachusetts Lumber’s business remained managing real estate and investments, with Eliot Snider as the sole stockholder, Director, President, and Treasurer.

In addition to his business activities, Eliot Snider was actively involved in a number of regional and national organizations. Joining the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) in 1957, Eliot, with his wife Ruth, traveled extensively in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States and around the world to attend conventions and programs. Eliot served the YPO as a director for nine years and then as the VP International. Over the course of his full tenure with the organization, which ended with his required retirement at age 50, he attended fourteen YPO Universities, each held for six days in a different city. In 1970, Eliot became a member of the Chief Executives Organization and the World Presidents Organization, allowing him to attend conferences on world trade and politics and continue developing his business leadership. These organizations facilitated meetings with political and diplomatic dignitaries, and also permitted Eliot to study the lumber and timber industry worldwide.

As an active alumnus of Harvard University, Eliot served as President of the Harvard Business School Alumni Association and was a key participant in developing the Business School’s Initiative on Social Enterprise. He was the Director of the Harvard Business School Board of Directors of the Associates and endowed the Eliot I. Snider and Family Professorship of Business Administration in 1995. Eliot’s involvement with Harvard extended beyond the Business School to the School of Public Health, where he has served on the Dean’s Council since 1993 . From 1998 to 2003, Eliot was a member of the Harvard Health Policy and Management Executive Council. He was also involved in the field of medicine through his role as a trustee of the Beth Israel Hospital from 1974 to 1996. He continued to serve in this capacity through the formation of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he was also the Co-Chairman of the Board of Overseers.

Eliot was also committed to improving the state of economic education for children in the United States. He actively sought to increase economic literacy and improve the reach and scope of the curriculum nationally. As the Director of the National Council of Economic Education (NCEE), Eliot participated in educational initiatives in conjunction with the Joint Council of Economic Education, Massachusetts Economic Education Council, and other like-minded organizations. His involvement in education was also demonstrated in his long history with Lesley University. During the institution’s beginnings as Lesley College, Eliot became one of its six directors and held this position for 21 years, until 1971. The initial development of the college, which had a graduating class of 150 women, included acquiring fourteen adjacent properties to build facilities. These facilities now include three Cambridge campuses and fourteen satellites across the United States, and the university has graduated over 70,000 students. Eliot was accorded NCEE’s George F. Baker Award in 1994. Eliot died on November 28, 2019.


  1. Material from the collection
  2. Letter to Kora Welsh from Eliot Snider, September 23, 2014.
  3. Harvard University History of Named Chairs: Sketches of Donors and Donations, 1991-2004.


April 10, 1921
Eliot Snider born to Harry and Lena Koralitz Snider.
Graduated from Boston Latin School.
Received a B.A. from Harvard University.
Received an M.B.A. from Harvard University.
Served as a Lieutenant, Officer-in-Charge, in the United States Navy with the Ordnance department in Materials and Handling.
Joined Massachusetts Lumber Company operations, working for George McQuesten Company.
Son, Andrew, was born.
Son, Paul, was born.
Daughter, Nancy, was born.
Became president of Massachusetts Lumber Company.
Moved George McQuestern Company from East Boston to North Billerica, Massachusetts.
Joined the Young Presidents Organization.
Joined the Chief Executives Organization and the World Presidents Organization.
Served as Beth Israel Hospital Trustee.
Received the National Conference of Christians and Jews Annual Award.
Served on Museum of Fine Arts Board of Overseers.
Joined the Dean’s Council of the Harvard School of Public Health.
Received National Council of Economic Education George F. Baker Award.
Served as Trustee/Overseer Co-Chairman of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Served as a member of the Harvard Health Policy & Management Executive Council.
Served as Treasurer (2002), Vice Chair (2003) and Chairman (2004-2006) of the Community Foundation for Palm Beach & Marin Counties.
Received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Lesley University.
November 28, 2019
Eliot Snider dies.


15 linear feet (13 document boxes and 2 oversized boxes)


Eliot Snider was President of Massachusetts Lumber and involved in several regional and national organizations, including the Young Presidents Organization, Beth Israel Hospital of Boston, Massachusetts, and the National Council of Economic Education (NCEE). This collection contains documents and artifacts pertaining to Eliot Snider’s business, philanthropic, and family activities, including photographs, meeting minutes, operational records of Massachusetts Lumber, financial ledgers, and blueprints.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Eliot Snider, November 2012.

Processing Information

Processed by Kora Welsh, 2013
Guide to the Eliot Snider Papers, P-977
Processed by Kora Welsh
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society Repository

99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States