November 12 - Take That to the Bank

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On November 12, 1897, Paul Laurence Dunbar opened a new account at the Capital Savings Bank in Washington, D. C., with a deposit of $350.  He had recently moved to Washington to work at the Library of Congress.

Capital Savings Bank, Washington, D. C.
In Account with Paul Laurence Dunbar.


Nov 12  dep  350.00

Capital Savings Bank account booklet, November 12, 1897 - November 25, 1898.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 3).

Established in 1888, Capital Savings Bank was operated by African Americans, and clients like Paul helped to provide capital to emerging Black businesses.

The enterprising colored citizens of this city have started a bank.  It opened last week.  It is called the Capital Savings Bank.  The president, Wm. Waring, a man of education and honor;  treasury is L. C. Bailey, one of the oldest and most reliable citizens in the District.

"A Colored Bank."  The Washington Bee (Washington, D. C.).  October 27, 1888.  Page 2.

The Capital Savings Bank, established last October, is exceeding far beyond the most sanguine expectations of its projectors.  The number of depositors is four hundred and the aggregate amount deposited is rapidly reaching $100,000.  The average of monthly deposits is now $14,000.

"Items of the Age."  The New York Age (New York, New York).  July 27, 1889.  Page 2.

During this period, as Paul transitioned from Dayton to Washington and from single to married, his bank account was often a concern.  He wrote cheerfully to his fiancée Alice Ruth Moore as he anticipated his first paycheck in October, but as Christmas approached, his finances became strained.

Today is payday but of course I do not draw quite my full salary.  Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the hour with great eagerness.  It means the first of a number of events that shall make me able to marry the girl of my heart.  Sometimes when I think of the enormity of my expenses I become disheartened, but a look at your dear pictured face brings life into me again for you are so preeminently worth working for.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Alice Ruth Moore, October 29, 1897.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 5).

If you need some cash this week, let me know at once, because I shall have to make some collections and tell some lies.  I religiously paid out everything I made last week and overdrew my bank account.  But I don't begrudge a cent that went for I am getting my checks before me physically and financially, and when all is done you and I will settle down and be happy together and in the fullness of our love forget pain and sorrow and waiting.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Alice Ruth Moore, December 19, 1897.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 5).

Paul recorded six more deposits on the same page of the bank booklet, from as small as one dollar to as large as $345.  At the end of February 1898, his balance had grown to $1064.56.  Due to his steady job and royalty payments, Paul's deposits exceeded his expenses and the booklet ends on November 25, 1898, with a balance of $1437.59.