Checks with optional confetti

I love everything about presentation checks. Giving or receiving an unwieldy oversize check for a worthy cause is a bright festivity that requires no wordy explanation. Modern conveniences such as Wells Fargo SurePay and Online Bill Pay may lessen the frequency of my own personal check writing, but I always see a place in this world for huge presentation checks with optional confetti.

I especially love that oversize presentation checks can be a legal negotiable instrument that instructs a transfer of funds, as is anything with the required information. Over the years, Wells Fargo has received both oversize and silly checks for cashing and deposit.

Business students in a fraternity painted a check for deposit on a closet door, 1970. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Business students in a fraternity painted a check for deposit on a closet door, 1970. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo’s Foster Briggs holds a watermelon that carries all the information needed to make it a negotiable item, 1974. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo’s Foster Briggs holds a watermelon that carries all the information needed to make it a negotiable item, 1974. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

First National Bank of Oregon tellers Carol Smith and Grant Jennings hold up a check that the customer eventually received, hand-cancelled, along with his regular monthly statement, 1967. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

First National Bank of Oregon tellers Carol Smith and Grant Jennings hold up a check that the customer eventually received, hand-cancelled, along with his regular monthly statement, 1967. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo’s Teresita DeGuzman and Alice Woo hold up an oversize check for deposit, 1977. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo’s Teresita DeGuzman and Alice Woo hold up an oversize check for deposit, 1977. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

A check too big for the Wells Fargo Express Stop, from the Wells Fargo Banker, 1983. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

A check too big for the Wells Fargo Express Stop, from the Wells Fargo Banker, 1983. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

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Parrott Building

In 1852, the same year Wells, Fargo & Co. was founded, businessman John Parrott built a new bank building in San Francisco. After five fires swept through San Francisco in 1851 he determined to put up a building that could not burn down. To fulfill his vision of a grand fireproof building, Mr. Parrott’s design was to be made of stones quarried in China, imported and marked for reassembly in San Francisco. However, upon their arrival, the local Chinese masons refused to help with construction. When asked why they would not, the master mason informed Mr. Parrott that the stones had been cut for the opposite street corner to where he was trying to use them, a site where no evil influences would be encountered. To build on the intended site, however, the building had to be put together “backwards.” This Feng Shui problem, led to demands by the Chinese workmen to have the location exorcised before the building was completed. Assurances were given that it would be done, but Mr. Parrott ultimately refused to hold the ceremony. The two largest California banks, at the time, moved in and began providing banking services. Between the Chinese community’s refusal to enter the unfortunate building and the Panic of 1855, the location did indeed prove to be unlucky for those two banks, which went out of business while housed there. In the meantime, Chinese businessmen took their business to the newly created Wells Fargo which, among other services directed at providing an excellent customer experience within the Chinese community, provided documents and business directories printed in Chinese.

Wells Fargo Parrott Building (Image Courtesy of Wells Fargo Archive)

Wells Fargo Parrott Building (Image Courtesy of Wells Fargo Archive)

So, when Wells Fargo determined to move into the Parrott building in 1856, they invited the Chinese to purify, or “cleanse” the building according to Chinese tradition. Having taken this step, and shown respect to the culture of their customers, Wells Fargo moved in and brought their loyal Chinese customer base with them becoming “the bank of the Chinese.”  Thus began a relationship that continues to this day. Wells Fargo continued to do business in the Parrott Building for two decades. Interestingly, the Parrott building did prove to be very strong in the long run. It survived the cities great earthquake and fire in 1906 and gave the wreckers a terrible time when it was being demolished in 1926.

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Memorial Day 2015

Thanks to everyone who has served. But especially, thanks to everyone who serves right now.

US Army troop, 1918 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

US Army troops, 1918 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Guided by History will be back next week. Have a happy Memorial Day weekend!

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Wells Fargo: 20 years of internet banking

Today marks 20 years of Wells Fargo banking services on the internet. Back in 1995, Wells Fargo was the first bank in the country to offer customers access to their accounts online.

wellsfargo.com home page, 1995. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

wellsfargo.com home page, 1995. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

The story behind this milestone is largely technical. Wells Fargo has been committed to using the latest technology since 1852, to help customers get access to their money and send it over distance. Wells Fargo opened for business in San Francisco to provide financial services to gold rush pioneers—miners, merchants, ranchers. Wells Fargo agents traded gold dust for coin, and remote pioneers could send money home “back east” by check, or by convenient bills of exchange.

Wells Fargo went “digital” in 1864, with the transfer of money over telegraph lines. In fact, before Wells Fargo & Co. was founded, Henry Wells helped build the first commercial telegraph line from New York City to Buffalo. When the transcontinental telegraph was completed in 1869, Wells Fargo was ready to use it.

Fast-forward a century and a quarter, to 1994: wellsfargo.com was launched. But Wells Fargo customers had been able to manage money “ON-LINE,” with proprietary software for PC. In the spring of 1995, Wells Fargo was the first major US bank to offer merchants secure online payments on the internet.

Ad for Wells Fargo internet banking, 1997. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Ad for Wells Fargo internet banking, 1997. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

The mid-90s were hot. Wells Fargo was first to offer internet access to account balances and transaction histories. In March 1996, Wells Fargo accepted online applications for checking, savings and credit card accounts. Only a few months later, Bill Pay service was launched: Just as in the earliest days of business, Wells Fargo customers could send money and pay bills to anyone, anywhere in the US.

Wells Fargo Online Banking® reached one million customers in 1999, and five million in 2003. In the last decade, Wells Fargo launched My Spending Report, the industry’s first all-in-one online spending tracker. Mobile banking was launched in 2007 and reached 10,000,000 online customers. And in 2012, Wells Fargo introduced a Spanish version of Online Banking® and Mobile Deposit.

Mobile banking, 2007. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Mobile banking, 2007. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

When Wells Fargo launched internet banking in 1995, about 1 in 10 adults used the internet. Wells Fargo and Wachovia merged in 2009, and 1 in 3 American households were served by Wells Fargo. That year, Online Banking® reached a milestone of 15 million customers. Today, about 8 in 10 adults use the internet, and Wells Fargo reaches 25 million online banking customers.

Jim Smith leads Wells Fargo Virtual Channels, the group responsible for these successes.  (History lesson—Virtual Channels began as Online Financial Services, then became Internet Services Group, then Digital Channels Group. Now you know!) Says Smith:

I believe the innovative spirit and focus on our customers that led our efforts 20 years ago will lead us into the future as we strive to pioneer the next generation of financial services and provide the best virtual experiences, anytime, anyway, anywhere.

I am honored to have worked with so many talented and hard-working team members over the past 20 years. It’s your dedication, willingness to think in new ways, and unwavering focus on our customers that will continue to fuel our success and growth for the next 20 years.

Technology with you, now and over time. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Technology with you, now and over time. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC

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National Teacher Appreciation Day

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, which is part of National Teacher Appreciation Week.  Make sure you take the time today, or this week to let a teacher know how much you appreciate them.  In 2013, as part of Wells Fargo’s commitment to the communities, Wells Fargo invested $81.6 million for 8,000 educational programs and schools nationwide and held their annual ATM tribute, which honored “Teachers of the Year” in 16 states.

Students on a field trip to the Wells Fargo History Museum-Phoenix (Image courtesy of The Wells Fargo History Museum-Phoenix)

Students on a field trip to the Wells Fargo History Museum-Phoenix (Image courtesy of The Wells Fargo History Museum-Phoenix)

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Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in honor of both the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and  the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Chinese immigrants made up a majority of the workers who laid the tracks.

The theme in 2015 for this celebratory month is, “Many Cultures, One Voice: Promote Equality and Inclusion.” I like it. It reads true, as Asian-Pacific does surmise many cultures and it is important to include them all, equally. Wells Fargo has a proud, storied history of providing service to Asian-Pacific Americans. When Wells, Fargo & Co. opened in 1852, Asians became some of the most loyal customers, and Wells Fargo has always provided focused service for them. When a financial panic threatened California banks in 1855, Wells Fargo weathered the storm with the help of these loyal Asian customers. The Company reciprocated by publishing bilingual directories to facilitate trade with Chinese businesses, and hired interpreters to provide swift and reliable banking and letter delivery service.

Directory of Chinese Business Houses (Image Courtesy of the Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Directory of Chinese Business Houses (Image Courtesy of the Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo had a Chinese interpreter in its San Francisco head office—Tam Tong, 1863-64—and in Sacramento also. Wells Fargo’s Letter Express Department in San Francisco employed three Chinese men to sort and deliver mail going to the Chinese community.  Wells Fargo’s express transportation service carried farm products from Asian producers like flower-grower Sadakuso Enomoto of Redwood City, California; and strawberries from Japanese -American growers in Florin, California, in 1913.

1892 Wells Fargo Envelope. (Image Courtesy of the Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

1892 Wells Fargo Envelope. (Image Courtesy of the Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

In 1893, when the United States celebrated the arrival of Columbus in the New World, at the Chicago exposition, Wells Fargo displayed a Chinese advertisement proclaiming, “The Company by its fair and impartial treatment of the public, has always enjoyed the special favor and patronage of the Chinese of the Pacific Coast, who have unbounded faith in its responsibility and integrity, both as an Express and a Bank.”

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Teach Children to Save Day

Wells Fargo Stagecoach Coin Bank (Image courtesy Wells Fargo History Museum-Phoenix)

Wells Fargo Stagecoach Coin Bank (Image courtesy Wells Fargo History Museum-Phoenix)

I recently started a piggy bank with my three year old son in an effort to teach him early about the importance of saving and budgeting money.  He is very excited about having his own savings and now any time he sees any coins laying around he quickly swoops them up and deposits them away in his bank.  I have been so proud of my efforts with him on this subject and thought I had done a very thorough job of explaining to him how it all worked, until he asked me the other day ”mommy what do we do with the money in the bank?”  That’s when I realized that maybe I could use a little help.  And clearly I am not alone, which is why in 1997 The American Bankers Association started the program Teach Children to Save (TCTS).

This year national Teach Children to Save Day is Friday April 24th.  It is a great program that is dedicated to educating young people about the importance of saving money.  Since it began more than 6 million students have participated in the program taught mostly by banker volunteers.   If the Wells Fargo volunteers don’t come to your child’s school or if you would like to learn more for yourself, the Hands on Banking® program is a free public service provided by Wells Fargo.  The program is a great tool for teaching children about the importance of saving money. My son and I have been using them and I think he is really starting to understand how savings works.  Now to teach his father…….

 

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Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Has your child ever asked you what you do? On Thursday, April 23rd is a day to share what you do with your children through Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Started by the Ms. Foundation in 1993, it is an opportunity for children ages 9 to 15 to share and communicate their expectations for the future. The event can become a teachable moment for parents to start a conversation with their children about what they want to do when they become adults. Activity guides and resources are available on the Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day website to assist parents in making the day an educational experience.

Child sending a telegram in the museum.

Child sending a telegram in the museum.

 

Here’s what’s going on at our Wells Fargo History Museums:

Charlotte

Children can enjoy refreshments, build their own stagecoach bank, and complete a Junior Agent activity sheet for a prize.

Los Angeles

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Children can enjoy activities all day including a scavenger hunt, building a stagecoach bank, learning about budgeting, and sending a message by telegraph. Every child who participates in an activity will receive a goodie bag.

Minneapolis

9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Minneapolis is hosting an open house with activities and games including a museum hunt, story time with Jack the Dog, panning for gold, toy stagecoach races, stagecoach photos, build your own stagecoach coin bank, and more.

Philadelphia

12 p.m. to 2 p.m. – Children can participate in hands-on activities, dress up in period costumes, and even try to curate their own exhibit.

Portland

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – A visit to the museum allows you and your child to find out what museum curators do and learn Wells Fargo’s history through fun and educational programs. Activities will include financial literacy, artifact discovery, gold panning, a treasure hunt, and stagecoach races.

San Francisco

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Team members and their children are invited to the museum to learn about Wells Fargo’s history and enjoy fun activities such as:

• Play a vintage PONG video game.

• Build a Stagecoach Bank.

• Send a telegram to another Wells Fargo History Museum.

• “Ride” our stagecoach Kiddie Ride and full-size replica coach.

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Kicking baseball season off in Cincinnati

April 6 kicked off baseball season and over the past week and a half baseball fans have flocked to stadiums across America for Opening Day games. Wells Fargo was feeling the spirit and once again we took our stagecoach to the Findlay Market parade to celebrate Opening Day in Cincinnati. We have participated in this parade for many years and it’s always so red, spirited and fun.

Wells Fargo Advisors and their families getting ready to ride the stagecoach down the parade route

Wells Fargo Advisors and their families getting ready to ride the stagecoach down the parade route

I’d say in a sea of red, we fit right in.

our red stagecoach fitting right in with the Reds fans

Our red stagecoach fitting right in with the fans

Our team always has a great time in Cincinnati and Wells Fargo is definitely not new to the city. Since 1852, Wells Fargo has held a special place for Cincinnati and it was listed as a city where our customers could exchange bank drafts for gold. In 1883, J.H. Magill handled the first Wells Fargo express office in Ohio from 118 West Fourth Street—in the great River City of Cincinnati. In 1888, Wells Fargo became the nation’s first transcontinental express company to deliver “Ocean to Ocean” through a nationwide network of express offices with 126 in Ohio alone. That year, Wells Fargo workers in Cincinnati celebrated this new service with a float in the city’s July 4th parade. It wasn’t the stagecoach we have today, but it was the beginnings of an appearance program that we continue to bring back to this wonderful city.

1888 Wells Fargo workers celebrating "Ocean to Ocean" service

Wells Fargo workers celebrating “Ocean to Ocean” service with a float in the Cincinnati Centennial Parade

 

 

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Library Workers Day

Tuesday April 14th is National Library Workers Day. Because, as they say, “Libraries work because we do!” They sure do.

Wells Fargo Corporate Library, 1976 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Corporate Library, 1976 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

I wrote about Wells Fargo’s Corporate Library a few weeks ago. That story of our library system goes back to the 19th century, but there were many people who worked the library over the years.

Irene A. Kennedy was Librarian in New York, where Corporate Library began in 1897, and she continued as of 1918. In San Francisco, Mary B. Paige was Librarian when it began there in the 1910s.

10¢ a month
In 1913, Wells Fargo Messenger announced that members could “secure all the latest books and magazines, as well as reference volumes; requests for books not in the library always receive prompt attention.” Dues were 10¢ a month, payable quarterly. A catalog was compiled and distributed in 1916, listing every work and every author. The tireless efforts of Kennedy, Paige and others with them were getting results.

Wells Fargo Banker, our internal news magazine, featured a more modern Corporate Library in 1976. Services continued as they had for 50 years, but technological expansion managed new logistical realities. Librarian Alice Hunsucker was enthused about a new computerized system that would soon deploy. Automation increased the Library’s ability to accommodate research requests, real-time and online. (The cost in those early years of connectivity was $2 per minute.)

Wells Fargo Corporate Library, 1979 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Corporate Library, 1979 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

But the core service still defined the Library: “All we ask from library users in return is that they be prompt in turning in the materials they’ve checked out,” Hunsucker said. “We encourage people to remember that others may be waiting to use the same book or periodical.”

It makes sense: Libraries exist to help people help themselves. Library workers, it figures, help us all help ourselves. National Library Workers Day is their day—visit your favorite library, and tell ‘em you appreciate their work.

And don’t forget to get a good book while you’re there!

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