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In the Classroom > Course Overview

Learning to "Read"

Learning to "Read" an Account Book

Part 1- Overview | Part 2 - Interpretation

Reading and interpreting account books, like any type of primary source, requires some basic skills on the part of the researcher. Use the activities in the left column to build and develop your skill set. When you're done, continue on to "Part 2 - Interpretation."

Focus Questions for Overview:

First, browse through the document, noting highlighted areas. Use the key provided to help you read the document. Take your time. Getting used to eighteenth century handwriting can take a while.

Write down anything that seems odd or out of place to you. We will discuss these items as a class.

If you see an organizational structure developing, note that as well. How is the page structured? What kinds of information seem most important to John Partridge Bull? Is this system similar to any we use in business today?

Amounts are given in pounds (£), then shillings (s), then pence (d). Twenty shillings = 1 pound, twelve pence = 1 shilling. List the five most expensive items sold by Partridge on the list, then the five least expensive. Do you notice any trends? Do the same with payment items.

Accounts #1B6 and #99F, Account Book of John Partridge Bull
Collections of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association.


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