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Series One: The Papers of Jay Cooke (1821-1905) from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Part 5: General Correspondence, January 1872-June 1874 and n.d.

"The Jay Cooke Papers are probably the most important economic history collection for mid-nineteenth century America." 
William E Gienapp, Professor of History, Harvard University 

The strength of the Cooke collection lies in the 106 boxes of correspondence it contains. These are a vital source describing politics, finance and metropolitan culture in Civil War and Gilded Age America.  

Part 5 completes the collection with coverage of the period from 1872 to 1874.  These years witnessed the crash of the Cooke empire, which brought down much of the country with it and precipitated the Panic of 1873 and the ensuing depression.

There is much on life in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia; both gossip and accounts of political intrigues and projects for westward expansion.   There are also reports from Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Montana and Oregon.  There is material on:

  • The failure of the Northern Pacific Railroad;
  • Utah mining investments ;
  • The impact of the crash in Washington.

The correspondence between Jay, Henry and Pitt Cooke is remarkable.  Jay Cooke retained copies of his own correspondence as well as those sent to him, and these now provide a unique historical record of a period in which they wielded considerable power.  In addition to their own letters, there are also reports from contacts all over America - from congressmen to newspaper reporters, and from foreign emissaries to land agents.  

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