Virginia Historical Society
Department of Manuscripts and Archives
E. F. Pearsall Co. (Richmond, Va.)
Mss3 P3165 a
Description & Guide
Main Entry: E. F. Pearsall Co. (Richmond, Va.) Title: Records, 1896-1959. Size: 651 items. Historical Note: The E.F. Pearsall Co., a furniture and appliance store, had its earliest roots in Richmond, Va., in 1896 as T.R. Maxwell & Co., founded at 1445 E. Main Street in the Shockoe Bottom section of the city. Subsequent mergers altered the company's name to Maxwell & McGowan in 1898. George W. McGowan was the co-owner. In 1902, the firm became McGowan & Pearsall with the new partner, Edward Frank Pearsall. By 1919 the name became just E.F. Pearsall. Throughout its history, a main sales outlet was located at the E. Main Street location, but other branches were also established in Richmond at 726 N. 2nd St. (1927-1931), 1525-1529 W. Cary St. (1927-1955), 214-216 W. Broad Street (1929-1956), and lastly, as a used merchandise outlet, 1204 Hull St. Road (1931-1958). A Suffolk, Va., daybook reveals that a branch was once there as well. Receipts in the records show that Bluefield, W. Va., and Petersburg, Va., also had branches. A related company is also apparent on a 1911 receipt for Moseley, Smith & Pearsall of Newport News, Va. Stock included a wide variety of common household furnishings and appliances. Many families of varying ethnic backgrounds and low-income households were customers at the Richmond branches. The installment method of payment was most prevalent as seen in the financial records showing collections by agents of the firm. Scope Note:
The records are divided into seven series, beginning with Series 1, correspondence, 1911-1912, especially noting the financial troubles of the Bluefield, W. Va., store and including letters from other companies to E.F. Pearsall Co. of Richmond, Va., asking for payment on overdue accounts, customers explaining why they are in arrears with payments, agents reporting on collection of debts and accepting jobs, and advertisers introducing their products to the company. Series 2 consists of a single photograph, ca. 1902, of the office and staff at 1445 E. Main St., Richmond, Va. Series 3 contains accounts, 1910-1912, mainly with companies supplying the furniture and appliances sold at E.F. Pearsall.
Series 4 is made up of daybooks, 1909-1933, showing daily business transactions.
Series 5 includes agent collection books, 1901-1938, detailing client's addresses with cash payments made on certain dates, and sometimes indicating their ability to make payments to the company. Series 6 contains cashbooks, 1904-1917, also kept often on an occurrence basis with transactions in chronological order. The final series, Series 7, is also the largest, containing ledger books, 1896-1959, which were usually kept as the final book of record with debit and credit tabulations for specific customers and businesses and sometimes interspersed with collection lists attributed to specific company agents.
Provenance: Gift of Laila W. and John W. Pearsall, Richmond, Va., in 2002. Accessioned 27 May 2003. Restrictions: None.
Box 1 Series 1. Correspondence, 1911-1912 Series 2. Photograph, ca. 1902 Box 2 Series 3. Accounts, 1910-October 1911 Box 3 Series 3. Accounts, November 1911-May 1912 Box 4 Series 4. Daybook, 1909-1910, 1916-1917 (a599) Daybook, 1909-1910 (a600) Daybook, 1911 (a 601) Box 5 Series 4, cont. Daybook, 1913-1914 (a602) Daybook, 1913-1914 (a603) Box 6 Series 4, cont. Daybook, 1924 (a604) Box 7 Series 4, cont. Daybook, 1925 (a605) Box 8 Series 4, cont. Daybook, 1925-1926 (a606) Box 9 Series 4, cont. Daybook, 1926-1927 (a607) Box 10 Series 4, cont. Daybook, 1932-1933 (a608) Box 11 Series 5. Collection book, 1901 (1609) Collection book, 1901-1902 (a610) Collection book, 1909 (a611) Box 12 Series 5, cont. Collection book, 1918 (a612) Box 13 Series 5, cont. Collection book, 1926-1927 (a613) Collection book, 1937-1938 (a614) Box 14 Series 6. Cashbook, 1904-1906 (a615) Cashbook, 1917 (a616) Cashbook, n.d. (a617) Box 15 Series 7. Ledger, 1896-1901 (a618) Box 16 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1896-1901 (a619) Box 17 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1899-1901 (a620) Box 18 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1901-1907 (a621) Box 19 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1903-1907 (a622) Box 20 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1904-1911 (a623) Box 21 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1905 (a624) Ledger, 1906-1908 (a625) Box 22 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1909-1918 (a626) Box 23 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1913-1924 and 1948 (a627) Ledger, 1910 (stray pages) (a628-630) Box 24 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1910-1918 (a631) Box 25 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1912-1919 (a632) Box 26 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1911-1923 (a633) Box 27 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1919-1936 (a634) Box 28 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1913-1918 (a635) Box 29 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1913-1918 (a636) Box 30 Series 7, cont. Ledger, January 1914-July 1915 (a637) Ledger, July 1915-January 1917 (a638) Box 31 Series 7, cont. Ledger, February 1917-April 1919 (a639) Ledger, April 1919-November 1921 (a640) Box 32 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1917-1918 (a641) Ledger, 1917-1922 (a642) Box 33 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1922-1929 (a643) Box 34 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1925-1927 (a644) Box 35 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1926-1940 (a645) Ledger, 1929 (a646) Box 36 Series 7, cont. Ledger, 1948-1959 (a647) Loose pages, undated (a648-651)