Wells Fargo and Lunar New Year

I’m a Chinese-American and a Wells Fargo Team Member. At a Lunar New Year Celebration event this past February, I got to celebrate both at one event!

At the San Francisco History Museum, we created two exhibits that retold stories of Wells Fargo’s longstanding relationship with the Chinese community. The exhibits shared images and artifacts from our Corporate Archives.

The Lunar New Year Celebration provided me the great opportunity to share the stories with guests, to network with Asian colleagues, and to encourage Team Members and community partners to visit our   Wells Fargo history museums to learn more about the Company’s long history as a member of thousands of communities.

The successful event was a perfect example of taking all of who I am to work and integrating my culture, my knowledge and work experience and sharing them in a dynamic environment to support Wells Fargo’s goals of helping communities and customers succeed financially—a consistent value since 1852!

Year of the Ram (Wells Fargo Bank)

Year of the Ram (Wells Fargo Bank)

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Wells Fargo Corporate Library

Started in the late 1890s by Wells Fargo Express President John J. Valentine, the Corporate Library still exists for Wells Fargo team members. But more than a resource for team member development, Wells Fargo’s Corporate Library demonstrates that Wells Fargo’s Vision and Values today are a continuation of values that have been with the company since 1852.

Wells Fargo Corporate Library, 2015 (Wells Fargo Bank)

Wells Fargo Corporate Library, 2015 (Wells Fargo Bank)

Valentine believed that a great company goes beyond making money: “ln the administration of our affairs, we appeal to all that is fairest and open and best.” Valentine established circulating  libraries by purchasing the works himself. He encouraged employees “to improve their minds and fit themselves for promotion in the Company’s service—making the man a better employee and the employee a better man.” Libraries in New York, Chicago, Kansas City, San Francisco, and Mexico City sent books free across Wells Fargo’s express lines.

The library in 1890 offered mostly classics, some contemporary literature, and a few journals. It grew slowly over time, and in the 1960s it became a full­-fledged business research library. This shift was the vision of Head Librarian Alice Hunsucker. In 1980 the library officially got online with dedicated terminals that gave way soon after to internet connections.

The tradition begun in 1897 continues today as a service that provides resources on such topics as personal and professional development, technology and business, and finance to Wells Fargo team members.  There are more than 4,000 such resources in the library today. Team members who work in the US can search the entire collection through an online reservation system, and order items to be delivered through internal systems.

It’s the same model as in the 1890s—only the technologies have changed.

Wells Fargo Librarians, 1918 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Librarians, 1918 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Recommend and donate resources

Over time, news of the library in Wells Fargo publications encouraged donations of books and other materials. This is true today as well. Library staff encourages recommendations for book, DVD, and audio purchases, and welcomes donations by Wells Fargo team members of recent business titles.

With the best resources available, employees had “thus been encouraged to read and to think” the Wells Fargo Messenger reported in 1917. The Library proved “a complete success in showing, if only in a small way, the results that can be attained by employees, entirely without outside assistance, when co-operating harmoniously.”

As true today as it was over a century ago, the Corporate Library stands ready to assist Wells Fargo team members to “read and think.” Said the Messenger: “They have realized that by helping others they will help themselves.”

Wells Fargo Library in San Francisco, 1916 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Library in San Francisco, 1916 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

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Women’s Month: Georgia Cartwright, stagecoach driver

Yesterday kicked off Women’s History Month and we’d like to begin the month by highlighting one of the women who drives for our Stagecoach Appearance Program team.

Wells Fargo - Georgia Cartwright driving the Juneteenth Parade in Missouri City, Texas

Georgia Cartwright driving the Juneteenth Parade in Missouri City, Texas

Georgia has been driving for the program for about 12 years now and a common reaction she gets when she pulls up to events is “Did you really drive that big semi here?” Yes, she actually does drive the semi too, she is a superwoman! She talks a little bit more about that in the video here:

Wells Fargo - Georgia with horses and dog in Texas

Georgia with her horses and dog at an event in Texas

As you might be able to tell, Georgia loves animals and they are her biggest passion; she has been around all kinds since she was a little girl. Her and her husband Alan, who also drives for the program, own 36 driving horses that are dedicated to the Stagecoach Appearance Program. All of these horses are geldings, ranging in age from 4 years old to 18 years old. The majority of these geldings are sorrel or chestnut with four white stockings and blaze faces (above). The remainder of these horses are solid white with no other markings. All of the Cartwright horses are American Quarter horses, American Paint horses or Thoroughbreds. The Cartwrights prefer these breeds because of their endurance, their good, calm mannerisms and their compliant natures. Alan prefers to purchase his horses as babies to raise them calmly and quietly. As they age, he, his wife Georgia and mother Carolyn train all of their driving horses themselves to ensure a solid foundation and a bright future. It is truly a family affair. In addition to driving for Wells Fargo, these Cartwright horses are ridden and used in daily ranch work at home in a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas.

The Cartwrights have three Wells Fargo stagecoaches that participate in 80-100 events each year and Georgia drives in about half of those. One event I’d like to highlight is the Texas state fair where she had all-female team. (below) How cool is that?!

All girl crew State Fair of Texas

All girl crew State Fair of Texas

Outside of working with us, she is a wildlife rehabilitator and enjoys cooking and baking. She is a wonderful person to work with & we’re so glad to have her as a part of the team.

Would you like to learn more about Georgia? Submit your questions below & we’ll get you some answers.

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Read Across America

Do you remember your favorite children’s book? One of my favorites was Doris Burn’s The Summerfolk, a book I read in my treehouse during summer or nestled up to the fireplace in winter. Monday, March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and we remember his contributions as a prolific writer and illustrator of children’s books by celebrating reading and the benefits of reading to children.

Wells Fargo’s commitment to literacy and education is part of our history. A century ago, Wells Fargo set up libraries for its employees, who could request books shipped free of charge on the company’s nationwide express network. In 1901, the Oregonian reported that Wells Fargo had established libraries at 32 stations, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Mexico City. Portland’s library opened in January 1901 and included a standard dictionary, Lippincott’s Biographical Dictionary, a Century Atlas, and Shakespeare. Wells Fargo President John Valentine expressed his strong support for education in a 1901 letter to Eugene Shelby, Wells Fargo’s agent in Portland: “Education goes on from the cradle to grave; and the man who cherishes an abiding interest in whatever is taking place in the world at large proves, as a rule, the most efficient workman.”

Today, Wells Fargo continues its commitment to education through Reading First, an interactive read-aloud program designed to support early childhood literacy. Since 1999, thousands of Wells Fargo team members have read a book aloud at a local elementary school and afterwards donated it to the classroom library for students to enjoy all year. Through the program, Wells Fargo team members have read and donated more than one million books to pre-Kindergarten thru second-grade classroom libraries. If you love to read, contact your local elementary school and celebrate the joys of reading.

Reading First program at Vancouver, WA

Reading First program at Vancouver, WA

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A bowling ball strikes out on its own with Wells Fargo

mandiMandi is the Curator at the Wells Fargo History Museum in Philadelphia, where she has been since being hired as a Museum Assistant in 2013. Mandi received an M.A. in Public History from Rutgers University where she focused on social and gender history, material culture, and improving access to historical information. She is an unrepentant history nerd but it is known that she also spends time reading, baking, traveling and jogging. (SG)

Recently, I was browsing the Library of Congress’s Historic Newspapers database for news stories or advertisements relating to Wells Fargo when I found an intriguing story from 1915 about a gentleman named Charles B. Maston and a bowling ball. Maston, who was at the time a foreign agent for Wells Fargo Express Company was offering a “beautiful trophy” to the Y.M.C.A. member who bowled the highest score using a special “mineralite” ball.

In May of 1914, the Brunswick Balke-Collender Company of Chicago devised a promotional tour around its relatively new Mineralite (a type of hard rubber) bowling ball. Following an evening on the local Y.M.C.A. lanes, the ball—inscribed with the words “Meet me at the Panama Exposition”—rolled out of San Francisco aboard a Wells Fargo wagon. It arrived in New York a short time later, packed in a box declaring its intended mission: “Going east around the world.”

Going East around the World

Going East around the World

After a whirlwind tour of area Y.M.C.A. bowling alleys, the ball departed New York on June 12, 1914, destined for such locales as Glasgow, Belfast, Berlin and beyond. Approximately two weeks later the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand plunged Europe into World War I. Legend holds that in the early days of the war, the ball got tied up in Germany, where it was confused for a bomb. Presumably the bowling ball failed to explode, as it was allowed to continue on to locations in India, Manila, Japan, and Hawaii before returning to San Francisco for exhibition at the Panama Pacific Exposition.

The bowling ball in London

The bowling ball in London

With the first ball stalled in Germany, a spare was sent from the Brunswick plant; it appears this ball remained stateside, traveling from Y.M.C.A. to Y.M.C.A. Newspapers from states such as Louisiana, Missouri, and Iowa announced the arrival of Maston and the well-traveled ball. Members were encouraged to roll up to three games with the Mineralite treasure. Brunswick collected the high scores, and was to announce an overall winner at the Panama-Pacific Exposition on March 1, 1915. As of yet, I have not been able to find the name of the victor, but as soon as I pin that information down, I’ll let you know.

What became of Charles B. Maston? He remained with Wells Fargo until 1917, when he resigned his position with the company to enter into private business. He then turned up in the 1940 census, living in Chicago and working as a bank clerk.

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Wells Fargo and PPIE

After a brief closing, the Wells Fargo History Museum at our San Francisco headquarters reopens to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The special exhibit tells the story of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) and Wells Fargo’s role in supporting it.

The exhibit runs from February 19 to December 4, 2015. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Closed on bank holidays.) Admission is free. Over 45 organizations are participating in the centennial celebration of the PPIE: Connect with them at ppie100.org

Panama-Pacific International Exposition postcard, 1915 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Panama-Pacific International Exposition postcard, 1915 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo at the PPIE
After the massive earthquake and fire of 1906, San Francisco was determined to rebuild. The City’s rebirth was celebrated a decade later by hosting an international exposition that celebrated completion of the Panama Canal. Hosting the Exposition showed the world that the devastation of 1906 would not slow San Francisco down.

San Francisco city leaders raised money to host the exposition. Wells Fargo & Co. Express paid their subscription, as did Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank and its President, Isaias W. Hellman. Hellman’s son sat on the Board of Directors for the effort, along with William H. Crocker, President of Crocker Bank (part of Wells Fargo today).

“The City that knows how” was officially designated in 1911 as the site of the exposition; the PPIE opened to the public on February 20, 1915.

Wells Fargo Messenger, 1915 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Messenger, 1915 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

The Wells Fargo Pavilion
Wells Fargo express had a Pavilion of its own, with a history exhibit. Just as it is today, a Wells Fargo stagecoach was a highlight of the Pavilion, a monument to the company’s history. The Wells Fargo Pavilion also had a working express office. Agent A. L. Hammell helped customers send and receive packages, and provided financial services: people planning a trip to PPIE were advised to buy Wells Fargo Travelers checks as “a safe and convenient way to carry your funds.”

June 15, 1915 was “Wells Fargo Day” at the PPIE. A parade and events presented a history of express and transportation in America. The procession featured an historic stagecoach, a steamboat float, a five-car locomotive with real smoke, re-enacted pony express rides, motor trucks, and express wagons. A dog sled team, a donkey pack train, and jinrikisha represented transportation modes from other around the world.

Exposition in San Diego
With completion of the Panama Canal, San Diego knew it would be the first port for northbound ships coming on the US west coast. San Diego lost the bid to host the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, but host its own exposition regardless. The Panama California Exposition opened on December 31, 1914. Wells Fargo had a historical exhibit at that Exposition, too, complete with a stagecoach.

Wells Fargo Messenger, 1915 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Messenger, 1915 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

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Red Envelopes

2015 will be the Year of the Ram (Sheep) on the lunar calendar, and a blessing of “Happiness, Prosperity and Longevity” accompanies festivities for the Chinese Lunar New Year which begins on February 19. Wells Fargo has a long tradition of participating in Lunar New Year celebrations, including parades and the publication of special calendars, coin banks and red gift envelopes. The red envelopes are a traditional form of gifting money and are especially beautiful as the vibrant color is a symbol of good luck that wards of evil spirits.

The Wells Fargo Corporate Archives is home to many fun examples of our long standing involvement in the community. Here are just a few of my favorites as we welcome the Year of the Ram.

Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank calendar, 1923 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank calendar, 1923 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Bank red envelopes, 1964 & 1966 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Bank red envelopes, 1964 & 1966 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Bank calendar, 1963 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Bank calendar, 1963 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Advertisement for Wells Fargo Bank tiger coin bank, 2010 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Advertisement for Wells Fargo Bank tiger coin bank, 2010 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Bank dragon calendar, 2012 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Bank dragon calendar, 2012 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

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Happy birthday, President Lincoln

February 12th marks the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln. The United States Mint began placing Lincoln’s image on the U.S. penny in 1909. Back then, the coins were 95% copper. Today it costs the U.S Mint about 1.8 cents to produce a one-cent coin, and they are less than 3% copper and almost entirely made of zinc.

These coins have held a fascination for Americans. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the World Wildlife Fund and Habitat for Humanity have all held penny drives to raise funds for their organizations. Some of our predecessor banks have used the penny with their mascots, such as Penny Bank from the National Bank of Alaska.

Back in 1975, many people began laying aside large quantities of pennies. California merchants found their penny supplies insufficient for transacting normal business. Wells Fargo Bank started the Penny Redemption Drive to help get them back into circulation. In exchange for 250 pennies, Wells Fargo offered customers a stagecoach print. Check out the cool poster for the program.

Wells Fargo Penny Redemption Drive poster, 1975 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo Penny Redemption Drive poster, 1975 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

 

National Bank of Alaska’s Penny Bank mascot, undated (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

National Bank of Alaska’s Penny Bank mascot, undated (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

 

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Wells Fargo starting e-commerce

Over the recent holiday season, cyber-shoppers spent billions of dollars on merchandise purchased online. And while it seems that the option of “click and buy” has been around forever, making purchases via the internet has been available, in reality, for less than a generation. Twenty years, in fact—back to February 1995, when Wells Fargo helped make the first secure e-commerce transaction possible.

When microcomputers went mainstream in the 1980s, Wells Fargo was among banking leaders in providing ways for customers to access accounts, manage money, and make payments using personal computers and dedicated software. Then in December 1994, wellsfargo.com went live: Customers accessed bank products and services, and information via the internet.

Early wellsfargo.com, 1995 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Early wellsfargo.com, 1995 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Linking personal computers over high speed networks brought remarkable innovations in communication and commerce. On February 15, 1995, Wells Fargo became the first U.S. bank to process a secure payment transaction between an on-line shopper and a web-based business. The pioneering internet retailer was Virtual Vineyards. Founder Robert Olson recognized the potential of utilizing early browsers to reach consumers, but most retailers did not yet grasp how new technology extended shopping—beyond bricks to clicks. Confident of his vision, and that wine was the perfect product for testing on-line sales, Olson and Peter Runoff launched Virtual Vineyards in 1994.

The business needed a payments processor to handle internet transactions. A conversation between Olson and Bill Zuendt, a Wells Fargo tech pioneer, led to an innovative solution secure credit card payments online. Wells Fargo was already developing a secure system using technology: Encrypted credit card information was transmitted to Virtual Vineyards and Wells Fargo, which simultaneously authorized and completed the sale. Virtual Vineyards went live in January 1995, and the first secure payment took place on February 15.

"Uncorking the Internet":Wells Fargo newsletter, 1995 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

“Uncorking the Internet”: Wells Fargo newsletter, 1995 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

It opened up a whole new way to shop. Other online sales by Wells Fargo’s business customers soon followed. The web-wide world of internet commerce had begun.

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Happy Birthday Susan B. Anthony

This month is Susan B Anthony’s Birthday. In 1979, Anthony was the first woman to be depicted on United States coinage—previous coins had “female” stereotypes, but not actual women.

Susan_B_Anthony_resize

Many of you have probably seen the Susan B. Anthony dollar, and a few of you have probably actually handled them, but they never gained much popularity. Most retailers refused to give them as change, thereby making them difficult to obtain. Most vending machines did not accept them either. The most common complaint about the Susan B. Anthony dollar—and one my own parents have made about it—is that it was too easily confused for a quarter. These obstacles prevented the coin from gaining much popularity.

But who was the woman behind the coin?

Susan B. Anthony’s militant actions gained her early fame in the crusade for women’s rights. Although peaceful, Anthony was arrested in 1872 in upstate New York for attempting to vote, she also led a protest during the Centennial Exhibition  —reciting the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States directly after the Declaration of Independence. You can learn more about Anthony here.

Her agitation was so important that even 15 years after her death in 1906, that when the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was ratified in 1920, it was referred to as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment in her honor.

Wells Fargo & Company’s early record on women voting is unknown. Henry Wells was definitely a supporter of women’s education, but because he believed that better educated women made better wives, his views on giving women the right to vote are, to the best of our historians’ knowledge, unknown. However, Wells Fargo female employees were definitely involved in the suffrage movement, as this photo of women employees at the Republican National Convention of 1912 below demonstrates.

suffrage_coach

Although no longer minted, the Susan B. Anthony dollar remains legal tender, and an ongoing memorial to the groundwork that this woman and her compatriots laid in the late nineteenth century.

Do you have any stories about the Susan B. Anthony dollar? We’d really like to hear them, post them in the comments below!

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