Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Isaac Bartram Account Book, 1790-1803

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, June 1998

Summary Information
Title: Isaac Bartram account book
Creator: Bartram, Isaac, d. 1801
Inclusive dates: 1790-1803
Extent: 246 pages
This account book from the apothecary business of Isaac Bartram in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, includes business accounts and numerous references to his family members.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1997. M-3371.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


No copyright restrictions.

Preferred Citation:

Isaac Bartram Account Book , William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


John Bartram (1699-1777) was one of the towering figures of American botany during the 18th century, and founder of the longest-lived and most significant botanical gardens in the middle colonies. A committed Quaker, self-taught, Bartram established an international reputation in the field, earning notice for his acuity in locating, raising and describing the flora of the American colonies, as well as for his moral stance against war and slavery. John Bartram had two sons, Richard and Isaac, by his first wife, and five sons and four daughters by his second wife.

Upon John's death in 1777, the 38-year-old William followed in his father's shoes, becoming and important botanist in his own right. John Bartram, Jr., at 34, assumed the management of Bartram Gardens, Bartram's estate and botanical garden in Philadelphia, and maintained the horticultural and botanical business there. Like his father, John, Jr., maintained an active interest in medically or ornamentally useful plants, publishing at least one sales catalog, Catalogue of American trees shrubs and herbacious plants, most of which are now growing, and produce ripe seed in John Bartram's garden, near Philadelphia. The seed and growing plants of which are disposed of on the most reasonable terms (Philadelphia, 1784). Both Isaac and Moses Bartram became druggists and established successful apothecaries in Philadelphia. Isaac's business, documented in this account book, was located at 39 N. 3rd Street. His son, Isaac, Jr., continued the business after his father's death in 1801. Isaac's half-brother Moses and Moses' son owned an apothecary at 58 N. 2nd Street.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Isaac Bartram account book contains almost 250 pages of detailed accounts of transactions for pharmaceutical materials, many of which appear to have been the natural products of Bartram Gardens in Philadelphia. Many of the accounts are directed to his relatives, including John Bartram, who is listed for dispersals of cash and for advancing cash to his son James to use for laundry and for his studies under Benjamin Rush. Other family members mentioned are Moses, nephew James Bartram, and niece Ann Bartram.

Isaac Bartram maintained accounts with a large number of customers over the years covered in this volume, including 22 women and many local physicians. Some of the physicians from southeastern Pennsylvania who were mentioned in the account book were Jacob Baker, Samuel Fahnstock, and Jonathan Kearsley.

In addition to plants and plant products, Bartram dealt in glass, salt petre, bottles, pill boxes, knives, ochre and other pigments, and other goods used in the pharmaceutical trade. Four pages at the end of the volume list purchasers of rosewater, most of whom were women.

Subject Terms

    • Bartram Gardens.
    • Botany--Pennsylvania.
    • Fahnstock, Samuel.
    • Kearsely, Jacob.
    • Pharmacists--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--18th century.
    • Philadelphia (Pa.)
    • Physicians--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--18th century.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Isaac Bartram account book,  1790 January 10-1803 May 4 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Humphry Marshall papers at the Clements Library include information on the contemporary botanical and horticultural activities of Humphry and Moses Marshall, Quaker botanists and relatives of the Bartrams.