Title

Banking from the Bottom Up: The Case of Migrant Savers at the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society

ORCiD

0000-0002-9342-3285

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Financial History Review

ISSN

0968-5650

Volume

9

Issue

1

DOI

10.1017/S0968565002000033

First Page

41

Last Page

63

Publication Date

4-1-2002

Abstract

Using the depositor records of Philadelphia's largest and oldest savings bank, this article reconstructs how transient workers during the late nineteenth century often used savings accounts to attain the economic goals of their migration. Displaying savings patterns that were active and short in duration, migrants seem to have used their accounts for targeted accumulation, eventually transferring their savings to family in their home country or withdrawing it before moving on. The existence of many such accounts conflicted with the ways in whıch savings bank officers and policy-makers had intended the institutions to be used, and eventually led to important changes in managerial practices. It is argued that the case of migrant savers illustrates the need to understand the institutional development of ‘popular banking’ within the context of broad historical changes in household social and economic strategies.

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