Ralph Forrester account book  1778-1795
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Ralph Forrester account book (62 pages) contains the accounts of a Pennsylvania farmer who supplied food to the Continental army during the Revolutionary war.

The entries document several types of transactions:

  • Sales of livestock (horses, pigs, and cows), meat (beef, bacon, mutton, and veal), and produce (cabbages, Indian corn, rye, flower, buckwheat, flax, potatoes, turnips, and hay).
  • Payments, both in cash and commodities, for labor (chopping wood, making shingles, splitting rails, fencing, harvesting, hulling grains, "ditching", and cider making).
  • Receipts for food, household equipment, textiles, and other supplies (shoes, whiskey, clothes, guns, linen, bonnets, tobacco, lime, bricks, and nails).

The book contains accounts for Forrester, many of his family members, and several local laborers, doctors, and farmers. The detailed and numerous accounts provide historical evidence for a late-18th century rural economy, where work was exchanged for cash and goods. Many entries document the role of women in the labor force. Forrester lists payments to women for doing house work; making clothes, handkerchiefs, and yarn; farming chores, such as planting seeds; and nursing the sick.

Notable entries include:

  • Documents for supplying livestock for General Nathanael Greene and Captain Josiah Hait of Colonel Spencer's Division, February 19, [1782?], (page 2).
  • Documents for grain sales to feed Lieutenant Colonel William Hull's horses, 1791, (page 17).
  • Documents for Forrester's partnership with Joseph Clark (page 16).
  • Accounts for Tamer Gregory, Forrester's mother (page 34).
  • A table for annual grain production for the Forrester farm from 1785-1788 (page 37).
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