This NP Gallery portal allows researchers to browse and search 19th Century account books created by the historic business Hopewell Furnace. Account books document information including payments to workers, workers’ store purchases and payments from dealers. A long-term project has begun to index these books. We are thankful for the help and support of Friends of Hopewell Furnace NHS in moving forward. Eventually all account books will be searchable by name of individuals and companies, book types and dates. To volunteer to join this indexing project please contact the park through www.volunteer.gov.
What are the Hopewell Furnace Account Books?
Hopewell Furnace NHS owns seventy-six of the financial account books of the historic business Hopewell Furnace, which operated from 1771-1883. Stove production was a major objective of the business. These volumes span from 1800 to 1876. They contain transactions with approximately 3,600 individuals and 300 businesses.
The account books were digitized page by page over a two year period. Sometimes it is necessary to view adjacent pages to interpret account information. There are approximately 18,000 pages on this site. Due to the scanning process blank pages will come up. You will need to select ‘next’ to bypass blank pages on many of the account books. If you are searching for a surname, first name or company name that may have multiple spellings you will need to do a search for each multiple spelling. In rare cases an account name such as ‘cordwood’ is used, which in this case combines transactions to numerous workers providing cut wood to the furnace.
The account books can be used in tandem with the web application of a database based on account book information located on the Friends of Hopewell Furnace NHS website: friendsofhopewellfurn.org/ledgers/ and www.friendsofhopewellfurn.org/history-database/ . The ledger database web application is searchable by name, surname, year, gender, a limited number of occupations and whether a worker is known to be African-American.
All Hopewell Furnace account books have Source Material numbers, which have been used to reference them for the past half century. Books are numbered Source Material 1(SM 1) non-consecutively to SM 136. Numbering is not in chronological order. SM 2 is an alternate name for SM 1 part 2. Some account books have an ‘R’ as part of their SM number. An example is SM 14 R3. ‘R’ means reconstructed. These are missing account books that were reconstructed by park staff during the mid-20th century by indexing information in existing account books. The ‘R’ account books must be downloaded as PDFs, whereas the other account books can be downloaded page by page as JPEG files.
The website includes the option to download a higher resolution JPEG file image than you see on the screen. You may need to download the higher resolution image in order to read some of the pages.
A document titled ‘Overview of Hopewell Account Books’ is available at this site. It explains book types and how to interpret their information. A related MS Excel document is titled ‘books’; it indexes and maps relationships among all known books of Hopewell Furnace. These documents were created by Hopewell Furnace volunteer Brian Schmult. These documents are copyrighted, and are not to be used without written consent. You may view them with the links provided.
Overview: HOFU Books Overview.pdf
The companion spreadsheet with Index, Sample and Map may take a long time to download and open: HOFU Books Spreadsheet.xlsx
Additional Hopewell Furnace account books are owned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania hsp.org/history ; Berks History Center www.berkshistory.org ; Chester County Historical Society www.chestercohistorical.org ; and the Pennsylvania State Archives www.phmc.pa.gov/Archives/Pages/default.aspx. The Pennsylvania State Archives’ Hopewell Furnace books are in Manuscript Group (MG)-2, MG-258 and MG-259. Researchers will need to make appointments with these institutions in order to access their Hopewell Furnace account books.