The SPMC Bank Note History Project (Part 2)

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By Mark Drengson

Project Overview

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 collect and 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.

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, which can be linked to the Banks & Bankers Database and other on-line resources.

Introduction

In Part 1 (in the May/June 2020 Paper Money Journal), we went over in detail how to use the National Bank search procedures in the Banks & Bankers Database, and showed you the information available for each bank. We also gave you a brief overview on how to use the Bank Officer Search. In this Part 2 article, we will provide an overview of the Bank Note History Wiki, and let you know how you can help us out with historical content for the Wiki and Database.

How to View the Bank Note History Wiki

On the SPMC website home page (spmc.org), click on the Bank Note History Project panel to go to the Project’s home page, and then click on the Bank Note History Wiki link to take you to the wiki’s Main page as shown in Figure 1.

You do not need to login to the SPMC website to view the Bank Note History Wiki (like you do when viewing the Banks & Bankers Database). This is a Public wiki, so anyone can view the information. Users who have set up an account on our wiki are allowed to Add new pages or Edit existing wiki pages.

Tip: As a shortcut, you can also get to the wiki’s Main page by just browsing to banknotehistory.com.


Figure 1. Bank Note History Wiki Main page (partial)


As you can see looking at the Main page, the layout of our wiki is very similar to Wikipedia.

Notice three important navigational aids in Figure 1 above:

  • The Contents box provides an outline with links to each topic section on this page.
  • The Sidebar panel to the left is included on every page in this wiki, and provides links to other primary pages in this wiki, as well as other useful links.
  • You can use the Search box in the upper right corner of every page to search and list links to all pages in this wiki that contain your search text (for example a Charter#) in the page title or page content.

Sidebar Links

The links on the Sidebar panel are organized into four sections:

  • The first section has Primary links to other important pages in this wiki. We’ll go into more detail on these links in the next section.
  • The Tools section has links useful to wiki administrators, and also to users when editing wiki content.
  • The Project Links section has a link to the Bank Note History Project Home page on the SPMC website, and also a link to the Banks & Bankers Database Overview page.
  • The Sponsorship section has a link to the SPMC website (spmc.org).

Primary Sidebar Links

  • Main page: The Main page gives an overview of the Bank Note History Project components and how you can help with contributing content for the wiki. It also explains how the content licensing works and has a link to the Acknowledgments & Sources page. From any page in the wiki, you can click on the Main page link (or the icon in the upper left corner) to go directly to the wiki’s Main page.
  • Project News: The Project News page will be updated periodically with the latest news on the Bank Note History Project. News topics will include new features, major data imports into the Banks & Bankers Database, and other relevant news.
  • Featured Notes: A Featured Bank Note is highlighted on the Main Page, as well as each State's Home page, with links to the Bank History page and Banker Bio pages for the note signers. The featured bank notes will be changed periodically, to highlight new content on the wiki. The Featured Notes sidebar link will bring you to a page showing current and past featured notes.
  • State Home pages: State Bank History Home pages can be set up that focus on each State's National and Obsolete Banks, Bankers and Banking History. They also highlight new wiki content for the State, along with National Bank Stats & Graphs, Famous Banks & Bankers, and helpful Research Resources.


Figure 2. Minnesota State Home page (partial)


Tip: If you are primarily interested in one state’s Banks & Bankers, you can set up a Favorites link to that State’s home page in your browser.

County Bank Note History home pages can also be set up to provide information on the Banks, Bankers and Bank Notes for that county during the National Bank Note Era (1863-1935), and also the Obsolete Bank Note Era (1782-1866) (if applicable for that county). County home pages are listed on their State home page for easy access. Your local County Historical Society/Museum may be interested in adding a link on their website to their County's Bank Note History home page in our wiki.

  • Bank Histories (Index page): The Index for the Bank History pages in this wiki is organized by State, and then alphabetical by Town. See Figure 3 below for an example of a Bank History page.


Figure 3. Bank History page (partial) for the First National Bank of Iona, MN.


  • Banker Biographies (Index page): The Index for the Banker Biography pages in this wiki is organized alphabetically by Last Name. See Figure 4 below for an example of a Banker Bio page.


Figure 4. Banker Biography page (partial) for Peter A. Gushurst, President, First National Bank, Lead, SD.


Other Articles: This index page is organized by State, and has links to other Bank Note History related articles that don’t fit into the Bank History or Banker Bio topics. See Figure 5 below.


Figure 5. Other Articles index page (partial)


How You Can Help with the SPMC Bank Note History Project

The Bank Note History Project is a long-term project, and our overall goal is to provide a good online framework to gather and organize this historical data and make it easily available to users…and easy for users to add more bank note history over time. If you would like to help us with this project, your assistance would be greatly appreciated!


There are three primary areas where you can with help the Bank Note History Project:

1. Help us gather Basic Banker Information for as many bankers as possible, including Full Name (instead of initials) and Birth & Death dates. This helps us tie together multi-bank bankers and also provides a good starting point for further Banker biographical research.

2. Identify Other National Bank Note Signers not in the Database, including VPs and Assistant Cashiers as well as Presidents and Cashiers that were not listed in the OCC reports.

3. Help us add more Bank Histories and Banker Bios to the Bank Note History wiki. Administrator utilities are available that use templates to automatically create Bank History and Banker Bio pages in the wiki, including relevant data from the Banks & Bankers Database. This basically just leaves uploading images (bank postcards, banker photos & bank notes), expanding the Bank History/Banker Bio section, and 'cleaning up' the rest of the page text as needed. Remember, this is a wiki, so a page doesn’t have to be perfect to start with! Additional Bank History and Banker Bio information can be added over time, by you or other users, as it becomes available. Also, you don’t have to worry about making a mistake, or ‘breaking’ anything, since it is easy to undo any changes that have been made.

Note: We have recently upgraded the wiki software to the latest version. One of the new features is the Visual Editor, which works like a word processor (ie Microsoft Word), rather than directly editing the wikitext source like before. This makes it much easier for users to edit wiki pages and upload images. The 'old' way of editing using the wikitext editor is still available when needed for more advanced editing.

For detailed information on how you can help us, see the How You Can Help link on the wiki sidebar.


If you have any questions, or want to help us with the Bank Note History Project, please contact me via email at admin@banknotehistory.com. Thanks!