Summary Information
Title: Pittsburgh Mercantile Company Records
Collection Number: AIS.1965.06
Creator: Pittsburgh Mercantile Company.

Collection Dates: 1877-1950
Extent: 21.0 linear feet

Language: English

Abstract:
The Pittsburgh Mercantile Company operated in western Pennsylvania from the 1870s until the 1950s. The company was made up of clothing and dry goods stores, mainly patronized by steelworkers and coal miners. This collection contains various forms of ledgers including balance books, departmental ledgers, private ledgers, inventories, payroll, and share books.
Publisher:

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
412-648-3232
archives-ref@mail.pitt.edu
Date Published:

November 2004
Author:

Finding aid prepared by Andy Newman.
History

The Pittsburgh Mercantile Company operated in western Pennsylvania from the 1870s until the 1950s. The company was made up of clothing and dry goods stores, mainly patronized by steelworkers and coal miners. As in all mining and steel working towns, workers purchased all necessities from the company store. There were stores throughout western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh, California, Fredericktown, Woodlawn, Vestaburg, and Denbo. The Pittsburgh Mercantile Company, the superstore of its day, offered household supplies, tools, and foods in addition to clothing. Although the stores were retail, the company made most of its profit from wholesale to companies and businesses. Some of the stores had service stations for the maintenance of automobiles.


Collection Scope and Content Notes

The records of the Pittsburgh Mercantile Company reflect the business activities of the company from 1877 to 1950. Most of the material is in the form of ledgers, which have been microfilmed. This collection contains many different forms of ledgers including balance books, departmental ledgers, private ledgers, inventories, payroll, and share books. Each type of ledger allows a glimpse into a function of the company.


Arrangement

The records are organized into eight series (additional notes are found at the series level):

Series I. Financial Ledgers, 1894-1949

Series II. Private Ledgers, 1875-1947

Series III. Tax Records, 1903-1931

Series IV. Shares, Vouchers, and Check Books, 1880-1936

Series V. Payroll, 1937-1941

Series VI. California, PA, Store Fire, January 3, 1946

Series VII. Inventory and Supply Ledgers, 1898-1937

Series VIII. Ledger of Contacts, 1904-1917


Subject Terms

Topics
  • Department stores -- Pennsylvania
  • General stores -- Pennsylvania
  • Stores, Retail -- Pennsylvania

Corporate Names
  • Pittsburgh Mercantile Company.

Genres/Forms
  • Ledgers (Account books)

Category
  • Business and Industry

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions; however, users of this collection must make an appointment with the Archives Service Center before the collection can be serviced because of its current physical arrangment.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Sy Silverman on February 17, 1965.

Preferred Citation:

Pittsburgh Mercantile Company Records, 1877-1950, AIS.1965.06, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Andy Newman in November 2004.

Copyright:

The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.


Collection Inventory

Series I. Financial Ledgers, 1894-1949

Scope and Content Notes:

Series I contains financial ledgers used by the company to manage assets as a whole and on a departmental basis. Balance books were used to balance the whole of the company’s assets and expenses. Petty cash ledgers were used to keep track of accounts used for travel, emergencies, and jobs. These ledgers list names with dollar amounts including the financial balance of company and received and disbursed payments. Among the years listed, 1921 is missing. Financial ledgers account for the transactions between the Pitt Mercantile Co. and various businesses. The financial ledger mentions the Pennsylvania R.R. regarding shipments, cargo, destinations, and cost. The James Mfg. Co. ledger details the sale of wood alcohol, acetate of lime, hardwood charcoal.

Shelf 16/5/2 Balance Book. American Iron Works Store, 1895-1901
Shelf 16/5/2 Balance Book. Pitt Mercantile, 1902-1904
Shelf 16/5/2 Balance Book, March 1905
Shelf 16/5/4 Balance Book. Recapitulation pages, 1911-1913
Shelf 16/5/2 Balance Book. All stores, 1930-1936
Shelf 16/5/4 Balance Book. Steel Industries Engineering Corporation, 1931-1936
Shelf 16/5/2 Financial Ledger. Kane, Pa., 1895-1906
Shelf 16/5/2 Financial Ledger. Consolidated Chemical Co., 1897-1906
Shelf 16/5/2 Financial Ledger. Kane & Elk R.R. Co., 1898-1901
Shelf 16/5/3 Financial Ledger. Freight Interchange Account, 1919-1927
Shelf 16/5/2 Financial Ledger. American Plate Galss, 1929-1930
Shelf 16/5/5 Financial Ledger. Pennsylvania R.R., 1898-1907
Shelf 16/5/3 Financial Ledger. Monthly statements, 1912
Shelf 16/5/4 Financial Ledger. Monthly statements, 1914-1916
Shelf 16/5/4 Financial Ledger. James Manufacturing Co., 1927-1932
Shelf 16/5/2 Financial Ledger. Steel Industries Engineering Co., 1930-1937
Shelf 16/5/4 Financial Ledger., 1900-1904
Shelf 16/5/7-8 Departmental ledgers, 1904-1912
Shelf 16/5/7-8 Departmental ledgers, 1915
Shelf 16/5/7-8 Departmental ledgers, 1924-1925
Shelf 16/5/7-8 Departmental ledgers, 1939-1940
Shelf 16/5/7-8 Departmental ledgers, 1941-1943
Shelf 16/5/7-8 Departmental ledgers, 1944-1945
Shelf 16/5/7-8 Departmental ledgers, 1947
Shelf 16/5/7-8 Departmental ledgers, 1947-1949
Shelf 16/5/7-8 Departmental ledgers, 1949
Shelf 16/5/3 Petty cash ledgers, 1914-1916
Shelf 16/5/3 Petty cash ledgers, 1914-1923
Shelf 16/5/6 Petty cash ledgers, 1919-1925
Shelf 16/5/3 Petty cash ledgers, 1923-1926
Shelf 16/5/6 Petty cash ledgers, 1925-1930
Shelf 16/5/3 Petty cash ledgers, 1926-1934
Shelf 16/5/4 Debits and Credits, 1894-1905
Shelf 16/5/4 Markups, 1924

Series II. Private Ledgers, 1875-1947

Scope and Content Notes:

Series II consists of private ledgers, which were used primarily to manage the accounts of company executives and shareholders. Private journals are similar to private cash ledgers, but include statements as to why monies were displaced and offer a view of the company from upper management. The private ledger of the Blair Supply Co. contains a company charter.

Shelf 15/5/4-5 Private Ledgers. American Iron Works Store, 1875
Shelf 16/5/4-5 Private Ledgers. American Iron Works Store, 1914-1922
Shelf 16/5/4-5 Private Ledgers. Blair Supply Co., 1904
Shelf 16/5/4-5 Private ledgers, 1904-1905
Shelf 16/5/4-5 Private ledgers, 1904-1905
Shelf 16/5/4-5 Private ledgers, 1910-1911
Shelf 16/5/4-5 Private ledgers, 1912-1913
Shelf 16/5/4-5 Private ledgers, 1923-1927
Shelf 16/5/1 Private cash ledgers, February 1907-March 1909
Shelf 16/5/1 Private cash ledgers, 1905-1909
Shelf 16/5/1 Private cash ledgers, 1909-1910
Shelf 16/5/1 Private cash ledgers, 1911-1912
Shelf 16/5/1 Private journals, 1904-1913
Shelf 16/5/1 Private journals, 1904-1917
Shelf 16/5/1 Private journals, 1908-1912
Shelf 16/5/1 Private journals, 1917-1923
Shelf 16/5/1 Private journals, 1924-1930
Shelf 16/5/1 Private journals, 1930-1935
Shelf 16/5/1 Private journals, 1935-1940
Shelf 16/5/1 Private journals, 1941-1945
Shelf 16/5/1 Private journals (bonuses from 1944), 1945-1947

Series III. Tax Records, 1903-1931

Scope and Content Notes:

Series III contains the original taxes filed by the company for the years 1903 to 1931. The majority of these tax records are accompanied with correspondence from the U.S. Treasury Department due to an audit in the 1930s. The Pitt Mercantile Co. was audited due to unpaid stock balances and corporate loans from 1903 to 1931. Most of the material involves the company’s appeal in 1931. Records relating to the Treasury Department audit contain correspondence on a hearing with Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. in 1923.

Shelf 16/5/1 Treasury department audit, 1903-1923
Shelf 16/5/1 Treasury department audit. Assessment report, 1916-1920
Shelf 16/5/1 Treasury department audit, 1917
Shelf 16/5/1 Treasury department audit, 1924
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1918
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1919
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1920
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1920-1921
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1922-1923
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1923
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1924
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1925
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1926
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1927
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1928
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1929
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1930
Shelf 16/5/1 Tax returns, capital stock, corporate loans, 1931

Series IV. Shares, Vouchers, and Check Books, 1880-1936

Scope and Content Notes:

Series IV contains certificates of stock or shares of the company, check registers, voucher books, account books, check stub books, and everything else that accompanied financial transactions. The certificate of stock book accounts for the companies stockholders from 1905 to 1929 (the year of the stock market crash). Incidentally, in 1929, the founder of the company essentially bought out the shareholders and held all the company shares.

Shelf 16/5/4 Stocks and share accounts. Certificates of stock, 1905-1929
Shelf 16/5/3 Stocks and share accounts. Transfer book, 1905-1929
Shelf 16/5/3 Stocks and share accounts. Receipts of share holders, 1910
Shelf 16/5/4 Stocks and share accounts, 1912
Shelf 16/5/3 Voucher books, 1902-1906
Shelf 16/5/3 Voucher books, 1904-1930
Shelf 16/5/5 Check register. American Iron Works Store, 1880-1889
Shelf 16/5/3 Check register. Pitt Mercantile, 1900-1904, 1901-1903
Shelf 16/5/3 Check register. Pitt Mercantile. Account book, 1904-1907
Shelf 16/5/3 Check register. West Branch National Bank, 1901-1904
Shelf 16/5/3 Check register. Pittsburgh Store, 1904-1911
Shelf 16/5/3 Check register. Consolidated Chemical Co., 1905-1906
Shelf 16/5/3 Check register. James Mfg. Co., 1909, 1913-1916
Shelf 16/5/3 Check register. Promissory notes, 1911-1917
Shelf 16/5/3 Check register. Steel Industries Engineering Corp., 1930-1931, 1931-1936
Shelf 16/5/3 Check register. Steel Industries Engineering Corp. Letter/copy book, 1937-1938
Shelf 16/5/3 Check register. Empty check book, undated

Series V. Payroll, 1937-1941

Scope and Content Notes:

Series V contains the payroll records of the company in the form ledger books. There are no social security numbers present. The departmental payroll list with the names of employees in military service lists payments made to employees, their mothers and fathers, spouses, and others.

Shelf 16/5/2 Aliquippa and Pittsburgh Stores, 1937
Shelf 16/5/2 Aliquippa and Pittsburgh Stores. Private payroll book, 1938
Shelf 16/5/2 Department pay roll, 1937-1939
Shelf 16/5/2 Department pay roll, February 1939-January 1940
Shelf 16/5/2 Department pay roll, January-December 1940
Shelf 16/5/2 Department pay roll. Employees in military service, December 1940-December 1941
Shelf 16/5/2 Department pay roll, 1940-1941
Shelf 16/5/2 Department pay roll, January 1941-December 1941
Shelf 16/5/2 Department pay roll. Empty payroll sheets, undated

Series VI. California, Pa., Store Fire, January 3, 1946

Scope and Content Notes:

Series VI contains records relating to the company store fire in California, Pa., in 1946. Most of the records were brought together for insurance purposes after the incident in the Statement of Claim documents. The department inventories are arranged by department number and detail what was damaged and the financial value. All of the following items are in one volume.

Shelf 16/5/2 Statement of claim from California, Pa. store. Inventory of items lost in fire, 1946
Statement of claim from California, Pa. store. Inventory, Daisytown store, dept.17, January 5, 1946
Statement of claim from California, Pa. store. Department 15 inventory lists, undated
Statement of claim from California, Pa. store. Department 16 inventory lists, undated
Statement of claim from California, Pa. store. Department 17 inventory lists, undated
Statement of claim from California, Pa. store. Department 18 inventory lists, undated
Statement of claim from California, Pa. store. Department 19 inventory lists, undated
Statement of claim from California, Pa. store. Department 21 inventory lists, undated

Series VII. Inventory and Supply Ledgers, 1898-1937

Scope and Content Notes:

Series VII contains the supply and inventory lists of the company stores and ledgers. The stock books are inventories of merchandise on-hand and supply lists of the Pitt Mercantile Co. The store journal is a brief account of daily activities at the Pittsburgh store during 1912-1913.

Shelf 16/5/2 Stock books, 1904-1913
Shelf 16/5/2 Stock books. Pittsburgh store, 1905-1910
Shelf 16/5/2 Stock books, 1911-1913
Shelf 16/5/5 Stock books, 1912-1913
Shelf 16/5/5 Stock books, 1914-1923

Series VIII. Ledger of Contacts, 1904-1917

Scope and Content Notes:

Series VIII consists of desk ledgers with alphabetical lists of names of companies, individuals, and businesses accounts.

Shelf 16/5/2 Desk ledger, Blair Supply Co., 1904
Shelf 16/5/3 Ledger with names, 1916-1917