Twenty-five boxes of bank records detailing the economic history and community growth of Pleasant Grove are going to Brigham Young University for safekeeping.
The records come from Deseret Bank, which merged with First Security Bank Nov. 10. Deseret Bank was originally known as the Bank of Pleasant Grove, created in 1911.Included in the collection are minutes of meetings, scrap books, newspaper clippings, loan transactions and correspondence dating from the bank's formation to the present. Few banks have maintained such detailed records.
In a small town such as Pleasant Grove, a community bank is a hub of activity, according to Harvard Heath, curator of BYU's Utah and American West Archives. The Bank of Pleasant Grove had "almost a monopoly of local patronage," serving 90 percent of the people in the surrounding area at one time, Heath said.
As a result, the mint-condition collection of Deseret Bank records provides an eight-decade "socio-economic portrait of the history of Pleasant Grove," Heath said.
"This collection documents a time period in which they kept correspondence as well as rec-ords," Heath said. "The documents have a tie-in to real-ife people, events and issues."
For example, the minute books of the Bank of Pleasant Grove provide an interesting look at the Depression years in Utah, said Harley Jacobs, former executive vice president of Deseret Bank and now an officer with First Security.
"It was one of only a few banks in the state, let alone the country, that remained open during that turbulent time," Jacobs said.
The minutes show that bank managers at the time "met with, consoled and comforted depositors" to convince them to keep their money in the bank, preventing a run on bank reserves.
Economists, sociologists and historians perusing the records will find information on loans residents sought and what they wanted money for, housing trends, automobile purchases, documentation of times when money was tight, etc. Records from the 1930s include many letters asking bank officials for loan extensions, Heath said.
"The records are a valuable historical tool to understand people's feelings about society and their lives," Heath said. "They provide an interesting perspective on how people in rural areas thought and acted during the 1900s."