The SPMC Bank Note History Project (Part 1)
By Mark Drengson
The Bank Note History Project is sponsored by the Society of Paper Money Collectors as part of its mission to promote the study and appreciation of paper money and related financial history. The purpose of the project is to help organize historical information related to U.S. bank notes issued during the National Bank Note Era (1863-1935) and Obsolete Bank Note Era (1782-1866). The project is focused on two of the primary historical aspects of these ‘Hometown’ bank notes: The Banks that issued them, and the Bankers who signed them.
The Bank Note History Project consists of two online components: The Banks & Bankers Database and the Bank Note History Wiki.
The Banks & Bankers Database includes historical data on all 14,348 National Banks that were chartered between 1863 and 1935. It also includes all of the bank Presidents & Cashiers listed in the OCC reports from 1867-1935, as well as many other potential bank note signers (VPs & Asst Cashiers). Many Obsolete Banks and Bankers from 1782-1866 are also available with more being added over time. A Search web page provides an easy-to-use search interface into the data. Initially, the primary focus will be on the National Banks & Bankers, since we have data available for all of the National Banks. In the future, we will be adding additional data for the Obsolete Banks & Bankers.
The Bank Note History Wiki is a public, crowd-sourced website (very similar to Wikipedia) for creating and organizing historical information on the National and Obsolete Banks & Bankers from 1782-1935. The primary content in this wiki is Bank Histories and Banker Biographies for bank note signers. The Banks and Bankers in the Database are linked to these Bank History and Banker Bio pages in the wiki.
In this first of two articles, we will go over in detail how to use the National Bank search procedures in the Banks & Bankers Database, and show you the information available for each bank. We will also give you a brief overview on how to use the Bank Officer Search. In the second article we'll provide an overview of the Bank Note History Wiki, and let you know how you can help us out with content for the Wiki and Database.
Login to the Database
To search the Banks & Bankers Database, you will need to login to the database from the SPMC website (spmc.org). On the SPMC website home page, login to your SPMC account with the link in the upper right-hand corner. Then go to the Project's home page, either by clicking on the Bank Note History Project link on the home page, or use the Outreach/Bank Note History Project menu option.
The Bank Note History Project home page has a brief overview of the project along with links to the Database and Wiki. Click on the Search the Banks & Bankers Database button, and you will automatically be logged into the Database search website. You will then be at the Database Search Home page, which offers you three search options as shown in Figure 1:
National Bank Search Options
1. National Bank Search by Charter Number
To use Search by Charter, simply type in the Bank's charter number. Then click on Find Bank and the Bank Information page for that bank will be displayed.
2. National Bank Search by Town or County
To use Search by Town or County, type in the Town or County name. Then click on List Banks for this Town or County and a list of the National Banks for that Town or County in All States will be listed (See Figure 2). Click on the Bank Title of the bank you are looking for, and the Bank Information page for that bank will be displayed (See Figures 3 & 4). When you return to the Home page, it will still display the list of banks from your previous Town or County search results, so you can view the other banks.
3. Bank Officer Search
To use Bank Officer Search, click on either the link near the bottom of the home page, or the Officer Search button in the upper left corner. See the How to Use Bank Officer Search section below for further information.
Bank Information page
Information shown on the Bank Information page for each National Bank includes:
Official Bank Title(s) with Title change dates.
Bank Officer Pairs showing the Cashier-President pairs with years served. This list is helpful for identifying Bankers that have signed a bank note, since this would be the normal pairing of signing officers. It also helps narrow down the year the note was actually issued by the bank.
Bank Note Types Issued showing the VanBelkum Issuance Data (Series/Types/Denoms & Serial#s Issued).
Bank History Summary based on the VanBelkum/Huntoon data, includes key dates and succession info. Any notations written on the Organization Report or Duplicate Charter in the National Archives are also shown. The Bank History Summary will also include links (if available) to the Bank Note History Wiki for the Bank History page, County Home page, and State Home page.
Bank Balance Summaries and OCC Bank Balances By Year (Total Resources & Circulation balances for all years the bank was in business) based on the Pollock data.
Figures 3 & 4 show the Bank Information page for Charter 9393, the First National Bank of Gary, SD.
Town/County Search Options
Bank Search By Town or County has several search options that you can use to control how your search should work.
Only list 'Note Issuing Banks' option
The Note Issuing Banks Only checkbox controls whether ‘No Issue’ banks should also be included in the search results. The Note Issuing banks will always be included in the search results, since those are the primary banks we are interested in. But sometimes you may be interested in also seeing the banks that did not issue notes. The default is to have that checkbox checked, which means Town/County searches will include ONLY those banks that issued bank notes, and any No Issue banks will NOT be included in the search results. (Note: No Issue banks will have (No Issue) included in the bank name to indicate that bank did not issue bank notes).
Exact and 'Fuzzy' search options
The Exact checkbox next to the Town and County search boxes control whether the search routines do an Exact search or a Fuzzy search using the Town (or County) value entered.
An Exact search means the results will only include banks with that Exact Town (or County) name. (Note: These searches are Not Case-Sensitive, meaning upper/lower case doesn't matter).
A Fuzzy search means the results will include banks that have the search value anywhere in the Town (or County) name.
As an example of a Fuzzy search, suppose you are thinking of starting a collection of National Bank Notes with 'Cloud' in the Town name. To find out which National Banks would be included in that collection, you would:
a. Type 'cloud' in the Town search box.
b. UnCheck the Exact checkbox next to the Town search box.
c. Make sure the Note Issuing Banks Only checkbox is Checked (so the search will only include those banks that issued bank notes).
d. Click on List Banks for this Town or County, and it will return the list of banks shown in Figure 5.
As you can see in Figure 5, the search results include banks from towns in various States, all of which include 'cloud' in the Town name.
Multi-Town/County search options
You can also include multiple town (or county) names in a Search by Town or County.
For example, Pittsburgh, PA had 2 spellings (Pittsburgh & Pittsburg) during its history. Most of their National banks used the Pittsburgh spelling, but 5 banks used the Pittsburg spelling.
To include both town spellings in the search results, you would:
a. Type 'pittsburgh,pittsburg' (separated by a comma) in the Town search box.
b. Make sure the Exact search option is checked.
c. Type 'pa' in the State search box, so it will only include Pennsylvania banks.
d. Make sure the Note Issuing Banks only search option is checked.
e. Click on List Banks for this Town or County to list the 51 Note Issuing banks with a Town name of either Pittsburgh Or Pittsburg, in the State of Pennsylvania (See Figure 6).
NOTE: Notice in Figure 6 how the Town search routine searches All Towns for Multi-Town banks. If a bank moved to a different location, or the town name changed (or the town was annexed by a neighboring city as was the case with Allegheny/Pittsburgh), the Town search will still find that bank and include it in the search results for that Town.
Bank Search Tips
- For Search by Town or County, you must enter a Town or County name, but you can usually just leave State blank, and let it search All States for that Town or County to build the search results bank list. If that list is too long, then you can enter the State for the Bank(s) you are looking for, click on List Banks, and the search results will only include the banks for that State.
- Some banks used abbreviations in their town name or bank titles (such as St. for Saint). For some towns with multiple banks, this resulted in both the abbreviation and full word being used on their bank notes. To avoid confusion, and missing banks in the search results, always use the full word instead of the abbreviation for your search value, and the search results will automatically include banks based on both the full word and abbreviation. Three specific examples are automatically handled by the search routines: St./Saint, Mt./Mount and Ft./Fort.
- The Home page and the Bank Search pages were designed so they should work well on most smart phones, however the Bank Officer Search page is not 'phone-friendly', since it displays so much information. So you're better off using the Bank Officer Search on a device with a larger screen, such as an iPad or desktop computer.
How to Use Bank Officer Search
To use Bank Officer Search, click on either the link near the bottom of the home page, or the Officer Search button in the upper left corner. The Bank Officer Search page has several search fields and options to help you to search the database for Bank Officer information.
Figure 7 shows an example of how to use the Bank Officer Search page, with (highlighted) search values set to find all female bank officers in the state of Minnesota. Bank officers are listed in alphabetical order by last name, with a summary of bank office(s) held, and several links to additional information: The Banker name is a link to the Banker Information page, the Bank title is a link to the Bank Information page, and the Officer Detail link lists OCC officer entries for each year for that bank. If available, links will also show for a Signature scan and the Banker Bio page in the wiki. For further information on using the Bank Officer Search, click on the Overview and User Guide link at the bottom of the search home page.
To wrap up, in this article we gave you a brief overview of the SPMC Bank Note History Project, and went through in detail how to use the two Bank Search procedures to find information on National Banks you are interested in. We also gave you a brief overview on how to use the Bank Officer Search page. In a future article, we'll introduce you to the Bank Note History Wiki.
For further information on the Banks & Bankers Database, click on the Overview and User Guide link at the bottom of the search home page. For Acknowledgments and data sources see the Acknowledgments link. If you have any questions, please contact me via email at email@example.com.