Williamsburg Brickmaker Humphrey Harwood's Ledger (1773-1793)

Penn collection
The Magazine of Early American Datasets (MEAD)
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Humphrey Harwood
Money Supply
Payment System
Economic History
Labor History
Social History
United States History
Williamsburg, Virginia
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Scholarly Commons, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
Related resources
<p>Currently under review: Wendy Lucas and Noel Campbell, "By a Hogshead of Oyster Shells, a Worthless Old Ox-Cart, and Ducks: The Economic World of Williamsburg Brick Maker Humphrey Harwood" at Journal of Early American History. Also, Noel Campbell and Wendy Lucas, "TO WHITEWASHING A CHAMBER, BY OYSTER SHELLS: THE COSTS OF TRADITIONALISM IN THE WAKE OF BUSINESS PRACTICE INNOVATIONS IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA, 1773-1793" under review at Accounting Historian's Journal.</p>

This file contains processed data from Humphrey Harwood’s Ledger B, folios 1-102. Entries in the ledger suggest that at least 128 folios existed in Ledger B, as well as Ledgers A and C. Ledger B records some of Harwood’s activities between 1776 through his death in 1788, and beyond to 1793, as recorded by William Harwood. For this file, we extracted and processed most of the data available in the ledger, but we were unable to understand the activities recorded in a handful of small accounts, which we omitted. Therefore, this file technically is a processed extract or sample of Hardwood’s Ledger B. Harwood’s ledger provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of work, production, and consumption, as well as a glimpse of daily life in the complicated economy of late eighteenth-century Tidewater Virginia. The economy of Virginia, if not Harwood’s businesses, was incorporated into the Atlantic World of commerce. It was driven by credit. English and Scottish wholesalers borrowed from British individuals and institutions to buy British manufactures and imports, which they sold on credit to North American retailers (merchants, tavern keepers, and small peddlers). These retailers offered these imported products on terms to nearby colonists and to the settlers in the western back country. This extensive credit network tied the colonies to Britain and each other, permitting faster economic development. The health of the Atlantic economy depended on the ebb and flow of British credit, but the Chesapeake colonists were caught between British credit cycles and tobacco price cycles.

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