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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Bishop's Bank of Philadelphia: C19th ledgers go online

Digital Library@Villanova University
Digital Library@Villanova University.
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An exceptionally useful collection of bank ledgers has gone online for the first time at the Digital Library at Villanova University.

It consists of three ledgers, each of about 700 pages, which note the money deposits made by working Catholics into what was popularly known as the Bishop's Bank in Philadelphia. The Bank was set up in May 1848 by Bishop Francis P. Kenrick to provide men and women with a safe place to save and receive interest on their money, and was managed by Mark Antony Frenaye, a businessman who served for many years as the financier and treasurer of the Diocese of Philadelphia.

Although set up for all Catholics, by far the majority of the Bishop's Bank's customers were Irish, and their approximate age and county of birth in Ireland is noted with details of their deposits. In some cases, additional information such as physical descriptions or family connections are recorded. You can find an interesting overview of the history of the Bishop's Bank at the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center, which holds the original ledgers and journals.

Now digitised and free to access online, the Bishop's Bank Collection can be viewed in high-quality scans at the Digital Library. They have not been indexed.

(Many thanks to Kyle Betit @CatholicGenealogy for letting me know of this development.)