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A 1898 Big Data graphic

Working at the Library has meant that I have had to adjust my concept of business history.  Prior to working here, doing business research meant finding the most current and up to date information and history meant two years.

It wasn’t long after starting that I realized Library of Congress researchers had a much different concept of history – they often meant 30, 50, 100, even 200 years in the past. I have spent the last dozen years learning all I can to better answer questions and assist researchers.  This is something that is ongoing and I still find myself thinking I wish knew about this source when…..

This brings me to the find featured in today’s post – National, State, Private, and Savings Banks; Bonds, Paper Currency, and Coin; Production and Value of Precious Metals; Coinage, etc., 1789-1898 published by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Statistics. It may be a thin volume, but it is chock full of money and banking statistics and was a good addition to the banking statistics titles that we already had in the Business Reference Collection listed below.

National, State, Private, and Savings Banks; Bonds, Paper Currency, and Coin; Production and Value of Precious Metals; Coinage, etc., 1789-1898.

National, State, Private, and Savings Banks; Bonds, Paper Currency, and Coin; Production and Value of Precious Metals; Coinage, etc., 1789-1898.

The data used to create the graph in the image came from several different charts within the publication, including:

  • Specie and bank –note circulation of the United States in the years specified from 1800 to 1859 (p.296)
  • Coin and paper circulation of the United States on June 30 from 1860 to 1897 (p.297)
  • Estimated amount of gold and silver, gold certificates, silver certificates, currency certificates, and bank notes at the end of each year from July 1, 1860 to 1884 and monthly from January 1885 to July 1898 (pp.298-301)

While this graphic may not be as sophisticated as those we produce today, it is a nice example of what could be done at the turn of the 19th century.

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