New Acquisition, Old Treasures: Amelia's Ledgers

By Kim Totten, Collections Manager

Many people may not realize that a museum’s collections are always growing. Pieces of family history and breweriana are acquired as the Museum continues to research the people who lived and worked within the house, as well as the Heurich Brewery and its workers.

One of these new pieces of family history are two ledgers from Amelia L. Heurich, Christian Heurich’s third wife and the longest resident of the Heurich House. Amelia’s diaries are a key source of information for our research, so we were delighted to acquire her ledgers, where she tracked monthly spending, meal planning, and salaries of the house staff.

The first ledger details weekly meals and grocery trips from 1899, Amelia’s first year as a wife and household manager. Some ingredients might be familiar: chicken, carrots, apples, etc. Other ingredients are indicators of the family’s German roots: smearcase (a type of cottage cheese), frikadellen (pan-fried meatballs), wurstsalat (a cold salad with cheese and sausage), and falscher hase (meatloaf with hard boiled eggs in the center). 

How do you prepare meals? Who decides your family’s meals weekly?

The second ledger contains monthly expenses from 1951-1953, a full five decades after the first ledger. Amelia would have been 85 years old, her husband had passed six years prior and all of her children had children of their own. 

The ledger tracks expenses from groceries, household supplies, and staff salaries. Amongst the mundane lines there are eye-catching costs: parking is ten cents and a tank of gasoline is often listed as less than five dollars.

One of the most interesting parts of the ledger are the salaries for the household staff. Marie (likely Marie Miles) Florence (likely Florence Scott) are familiar names in the Museum’s research, but until this ledger we did not know their monthly salaries. 

How do you keep track of your finances? Who calculates your monthly budget?

Amelia’s financial ledger is on display at the Museum’s exhibit Working Title, which explores what we know about the household staff like Marie and Florence, and why there are gaps in their history.

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