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Foster and Company records

Call Number: MS 1403

Scope and Contents

The Foster and Company Records consist of cashbooks, invoice books, journals, ledgers, other account books, and letterbooks which document the business transactions of a retail and wholesale grocer in Hartford, Connecticut. The records date from 1836 until 1890 but the bulk of the material dates before 1865. The records include accounts for Foster and Hosford (1836-1837) and James P. Foster (1837-1839), predecessor firms to Foster and Company. The firm was run as Foster and Co. by James Phelps Foster and his brother Ralph Henry Foster and, after 1880, by James Phelps Foster's three sons.

The records are arranged by record type and include an extensive, though incomplete, set of the standard general ledgers and journals which characterize double entry bookkeeping. There are also nine volumes of cashbooks, which detail cash expenditures and income and seven volumes of invoice books which record wholesale purchases. The invoice books also contain annual inventories of stock and net worth; the 1839 value of the company was $5,238, while the 1862 inventory lists this total as $12,787. Other volumes include accounts of bills payable and receivable, charges by Wells and Burnham and Bell and Baldwin for carting, a journal of Ralph Rose Foster, and a "Ham Book", which details purchases of ham, lard, pork, apples, and cider. Two letterbooks contain copies of out-going letters concerning purchases for the store and other details of its operation.

The library purchased the records of Foster and Company in 1943 from Armstrong. The records were transferred from the Account Books Collection (MS 29) in 1985.


  • 1836-1890


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Armstrong, 1943.


Arranged in eight sections: Accounts, 1839-1863; Cashbooks, 1836-1890; Ham Book, 1861-1867; Invoice Books, 1836-1864; Journals, 1840-1861; Ledgers, 1836-1869; Letterbooks, 1836-1866; and Oversize, 1852-1868.


9 Linear Feet (20 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The records consist of account books, cashbooks, invoice books, journals, ledgers, and letterbooks documenting the business transactions of Foster and Company, a retail and wholesale grocery in Hartford, Connecticut.

Biographical / Historical

The business began operation under the name Foster and Hosford, and changed its name to James P. Foster (1837-1839). The firm then became Foster and Company for the remainder of the time documented in the records. James Phelps Foster (1800-1878) and his brother Ralph Henry Foster (d. 1877) headed the business in 1842. Three sons of James Phelps Foster, Frederick Rose Foster (b. 1827), James Phelps Foster, Jr., and George Bushnell Foster operated the business after 1880.

Guide to the Foster and Company Records
Under Revision
compiled by Diane E. Kaplan William E. Brown, Jr. and Kathleen Wilson
April 1986
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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