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About ยป Dollar Bank Heritage Center

African American Customers, 1855 Through the Early 1900s



Between 1855 and the 1920s, thousands of African Americans in the Pittsburgh region opened savings accounts with Dollar Bank.  They were laborers, ministers, teachers, soldiers, housewives, small business owners, and pioneering professionals.  

As families put down roots, their relationship with Dollar Bank sometimes spanned generations. A number of family names carry across decades of Dollar Bank's records, just as they carry across decades of Pittsburgh history.  Woodson. Proctor. Golden. Crunkleton. Googins. Gibson. Burley.

The names in Dollar Bank's ledgers reveal an early African American community strong with churches, social and literary clubs, sports teams, businesses and mutual aid societies. 

These pages contain just a few of their stories.
 

Firsts

From Dollar Bank's founding in July 1855, the bank made no restrictions on who could open a savings account.  All were welcome.  African Americans were among Dollar Bank's earliest customers.  Learn more>>
 

Origins in the Virginia Region

During the Civil War, many African American slaves in the battle-torn Virginia region took liberation into their own hands by fleeing towards the lines of Union troops and Northern states. Learn more>>
 

Soldiers

Several of Dollar Bank's early depositors were among the nearly 200,000 African American men who served in the armed forces of the United States during the Civil War.  Learn more>>
 

Pioneering Professionals

Dollar Bank's early African American customers included pioneering professionals who were members of the first generations of black college graduates, entrepreneurs, and civil servants in Pittsburgh.  Learn more>>
 

Waiters Who Became Doctors

The rapid industrialization of late-1800s Pittsburgh made the city a center for business travelers.  As the number of restaurants and hotels downtown grew to accommodate the surge of visitors, many young African American men found jobs as waiters.  Learn more>>


Musicians

The musical traditions of Pittsburgh's African American community go back much farther than the heyday of jazz clubs on Wylie Avenue and the New Granada Theater.  Learn more>>



 
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