Conservation Begins on Bank of North America Records

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

As part of a multiyear project begun in 2012, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania is conserving the records of the Bank of North America - our nation’s first bank. This preservation project is supported by a grant from Wells Fargo, which traces its lineage back to that venerable institution.

Originally proposed by Robert Morris and Alexander Hamilton, the Bank of North America was chartered by the Second Continental Congress in 1781. Records date from the bank’s founding until its merger with the Commercial Trust Company in 1923. These include more than 650 bound volumes as well as photographs, correspondence, minute books, and financial records. It provides unique and invaluable documentation related to the Revolutionary War, the early Republic, and the origins and development of the banking system in the United States. The collection also significantly documents the careers of important early financiers including Thomas Willing and John Nixon and records Philadelphia's role as a major commercial and industrial center in the later decades.

HSP’s conservation team has been working to re-bind books, mend tears, remove mold, clean documents, and re-house the collection in acid-free folders and boxes. Many of the volumes in the Bank of North America collection have been made available to researchers. Over three hundred volumes and boxes are now finished, covered in sleeves for their further protection, and labeled. As a result, generations of researchers and scholars will have access to the records for years to come.