The Value of a Dollar

The Value of a Dollar cover

The library has several editions of The Value of the Dollar and a mix of both print and online copies.    We have multiple editions of the main book, with each new edition covering more years.  The most recent copy in our collection is The Value of a Dollar Prices and Incomes in the United States, 1860-2014 (earlier editions cover through 1989, 1999, 2004, 2009).  There is also a volume that covers earlier years, The Value of a Dollar : Colonial Era to the Civil War, 1600-1865.   These are a great source to find the prices of commonly purchased item in a particular era, wages paid for a variety of jobs, rates of things like gold and bonds, exchange rates, and inflation rates.  These figures can all be found other places, often with more consistent year-to-year comparisons, but The Value of the Dollar provides brief chapter introductions with historical context, images of advertisements, and other information to provide a more complete story of the economic impact of the price of things and the value of money.

I find the print copies easier to browse and quickly glance through or read in depth, but the online versions in Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) are searchable and provide options for printing and downloading content of interest.   If you are looking for tables of numbers or images of advertisements, you can quickly scan large thumbnails of the images in the book in the online version.  There are fairly detailed table of contents and indexes to aid in navigation.

These books may be of interest to people researching social and economic history, gender and racial equity, and those who like browsing through collections of statistics.  They could also be useful resources for novelists and playwrights who want to know how much a peck of potatoes cost in Atlanta in 1905 or the annual salary of a tobacco inspector in Virginia, 1803 to add some realism to their works. 

You can connect to the online versions via the links above and find the various print volumes in Hatcher and Shapiro.