University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Guide to the Truman Wheeler Day Books

MSN/COL 9300


Collection Summary

Title: Truman Wheeler day books
Dates: 1764-1813
Collection No.: MSN/COL 9300
Creator: Wheeler, Truman, 1741-1815
Extent: 3 bound volumes and 1 folder; .5 linear feet
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: Three volumes of business records, mostly in day book form, of the Great Barrington, Massachusetts general merchant Truman Wheeler. The records range in date from 1764 to 1813, with an emphasis on the years prior to the Revolution.

Selected Search Terms

Wheeler. Truman, 1741-1815
Berkshire County (Mass.) -- History
Massachusetts -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775 -- Sources
Merchants -- Massachusetts -- History -- 18th century

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: Truman Wheeler Day Books, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: Vols. 1 and 3 of the Wheeler day books were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2004, from Carmen D. Valentino American Historical Manuscripts, Philadelphia. Vol. 2 was purchased from Dan Casavant Rare Books of Waterville, Maine in 2006. Arranged and described 2007, by George Rugg. Finding aid 2013, by George Rugg.

Biographical Note

Truman B. Wheeler was born on 26 November 1741 in Woodbury, Litchfield County, Connecticut, the oldest child of Obadiah and Agnes Tuttle Wheeler. After graduating from Yale in 1763 he moved to Great Barrington, Berkshire County, Massachusetts to establish himself in trade. In 1764 he opened a general mercantile store about one mile south of the center of the village, on property he would expand and develop as his circumstances permitted. (A homestead built by Wheeler in 1771, at the time of his marriage to Huldah Caldwell (1751-1799), was acquired by the Great Barrington Historical Society in 2007 for use as its headquarters and museum). Wheeler lived in Great Barrington until his death, farming and selling textiles, provisions, and other general merchandise to the region's populace. He was a captain in the militia, and during the Revolutionary War was appointed Berkshire County muster master (1776; reappointed 1780). He held several town offices, serving at various times as treasurer and justice of the peace. Wheeler died at Great Barrington on 9 April 1815.

Scope and Content Note

The books include financial records of Wheeler's shop, and of other business interests, from 1764 to 1813. Most of the content in the two earlier books pertains specifically to the shop, and is entered in customary day-book form. Customers' debit and credit transactions are arranged by date, specifying the goods they took and the various ways they reconciled their accounts. These records date from June 1764 to December 1770 (volume 1), and from December 1770 to August 1774 (volume 2). There are also a few records of individual customer accounts, in ledger form (1764 to 1774). The third book covers Wheeler's business interests from 1774 to 1813. About half the records are day-book entries, mostly of merchandise transactions, dating from August 1774 to ca. 1800. Most of the rest are accounts with individuals, in ledger form; these typically date from after 1800. The books also contain occasional asides by Wheeler on his business and legal affairs. The three day books include several loose insertions, including a letter written to Wheeler by his brother Gideon in 1788.

Related Material

An account book kept by Wheeler from 1764 to 1772 (perhaps a companion ledger to vol. 1 of the present collection) is located in the Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst (Truman Wheeler Account Book, MS 618 bd).

Container List

  • Truman Wheeler day books, insertions, 1788-1794. Folder 1 (MSN/COL 9300-1).
    2 items.
    Included are a letter of 14 January 1788 written to Truman Wheeler by his brother Gideon, and a pattern cut from a 1794 newspaper.
    • Truman Wheeler day books, volume 1, 1764 June-1770 December. (MSN/COL 9300-2-B).
      1 volume, bound in parchment, 41 x 17 cm., 186 leaves.
      • Truman Wheeler day books, volume 2, 1770 December-1774 August. (MSN/COL 9300-3-B).
        1 volume, bound in parchment, 33 x 21 cm., 134 leaves.
        • Truman Wheeler day books, volume 3, 1774-1813. (MSN/COL 9300-4-B).
          1 volume, bound in parchment, 41 x 17 cm., 129 leaves.