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In the Classroom > Course Overview

Learning to "Read"

Learning to "Read" an Account Book

Part 1- Overview | Part 2 - Interpretation

Now that you have some understanding about how an account book is set up, use the questions in the left column to help you read and interpret this page from Bull's Account Book. Once done, you can continue to practice reading by going to the "Reading Excerpts" section of this activity.

Focus Questions for Interpretation:

Now, browse through the page again. Note that this was a time when trade and barter took precedence over cash payments.

Do you think that Bull was able to make demands about how he was to be paid? About when?

How might the payments listed have been used by Bull in his trade or in his home?

How would you characterize the type of work that Bull was doing? Was he mostly building new items? Mostly mending old ones? Can you tell from this page how much of his trade was blacksmithing? How much was gunsmithing?

Is Bull's trade a seasonal one? How do you know?

How much more evidence would you need to see to feel like you could prove your hypotheses? What type of evidence could you use?

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


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