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John Herdman's Day Book


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

John David Herdman, Jr., (1770-1832) was a tavern and hotel owner. This business had previously been owned by Joseph Hossinger and was located in the town of New Ark, now Newark, Delaware. Herdman's son, William David Herdman (1805-1882), served in the Delaware House of Representatives and the State Senate during the 1830s.

This extensive account of a local business's financial transactions may contain useful information on the way of life for Delaware citizens in the early 19th century. Some of the customers listed in the book are William Watson, George Crookham, John Brower, David Colwell, John Atkins, Benjamin Holland, and Doctor Handy.

Biographical information derived from collection.

John David Herdman, Jr.'s, mostly single-line daybook shows the transactions for his hotel and tavern, located in New Ark (now Newark), Delaware. The daybook includes the purchase of alcoholic beverages with the price, product, and amount sold. The types of alcohol include: brandy, gin, wine, "cherry," beer, porter, cider, and whisky; whisky being the most frequently purchased. The serving sizes for the tavern include: half-gill, gill, mug, half-pint, and pint. Included among the purchases are charges for lodging in the tavern, apparently to men only, and money loaned.

Herdman's establishment had a competing business in the opposite end of the city, but attracted travelers from a nearby turnpike. The book includes payments for turnpike bills. In 1811 Herdman raised funds to have roads paved in Newark by managing a lottery. Another transaction not related to the tavern and hotel is a $12 payment to a Sarah Massey for the services of a "black boy" who was being returned to her.

The book itself, paper sheets and binding, were made locally. The paper came from the Milford Paper Mill, built by Thomas Meteer in the late eighteenth-century and operated by the family until 1841. The Curtis family purchased the mill soon after and operated it until 1997. The book has comb pasted paper covered boards for the exterior; decorative, scissor-cut paper label, titled in the manuscript, applied to the upper board; 77 leaves of laid paper with the watermark "Meteer" containing 154 pages of ink and, occasionally, red pencil manuscript or more modern ballpoint pen.

Listed on the front endpaper of this account book are names of expensive brands of alcohol: "Madeira Wine, Champagne, Lisbon Wine & Malaga d[itt]o., Sherry & Tenneriffe [sic] Wine, Sicily Muscat Port & Burgundy." These items do not appear in the daybook, but may have been in the inventory for wealthier clientele.

On the front, inside cover is an attached sheet with the genealogy of John David Herdman's family written on lined paper with ballpoint pen.

  1. Item 0147: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0096

A digitized copy of the daybook is available at the University of Delaware Digital Institutional Repository.

Purchase, May 2012.

Processed and encoded by Marrette Pearsall, October 2012.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2012 October 17
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

John Herdman's Day Book, 1816 January 2-1818 June 30.
Item 0147
Physical Description

1 volume

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