The financial records of a business can hold a wealth of information. With business records, a researcher can obtain much information, whether he or she is interested in nineteenth century purchasing patterns, the cost of materials used in textile manufacturing, or the everyday operations of a brewery. The main types of financial materials found among business records are account books, account statements, receipts, bills and shipping information. Correspondence, legal cases and minute books also offer more insight into the operations of a business.
In 2003, HSP undertook the Documentary Families Project, which focused on the access and preservation needs of some of the Society’s richest collections of family papers. This three-year effort enabled HSP to preserve and describe dozens of these important collections, which describe the founding and settlement of Pennsylvania, expansion into western counties and relations with Native Americans, and much more.
Project staff (Joanne Danifo, Katherine Gallup, Sarah Heim, and Leslie Hunt) created this glossary of terms in financial records found in the Documentary Families collections. However, this guide may be helpful for anyone conducting research in financial records from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
Researchers not accustomed to early penmanship, may also be interested in Kip Sperry's book, Reading Early American Handwriting (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1998; call number REF Z 115.A5 S64 1998).