Resources at the University of Delaware Library

Philadelphia Custom House records finding aid

The Philadelphia Custom House records finding aid provides an overview of the collection and a list of the collection's contents. This collection is arranged chronologically by year and then sub-divided into nine groups of document types for each year. These groups include invoices; manifests; entries of merchandise; returns and appraisement; duties and drawback; bonds, receipts, and bills of exchange; marine insurance; custom house administration; and seamen and crews. The bulk of the collection materials pertain to the Philadelphia Custom House's activties during the nineteenth century.

Ships' Bills of Health finding aid

This collection consists of bills of health from ships traveling from ports in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean between 1894 and 1932. Many of these ships were traveling to the port of Philadelphia. The finding aid provides an overview of the collection and a list of the collection's contents. 

Resources at Other Repositories

Custom House Document Collection, 1790-1866, G.W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport

This collection at Mystic Seaport consists of various Customs documents, primarily from ports on the eastern seaboard, from the late 1700’s until 1866. It contains approximately 300 customs documents of different types which were required to be carried by the masters of vessels to prove their cargo was legitimate, and had paid the necessary duties at each port of entry.

Ships’ Papers Collection, 1786-1866, Fairfield Museum and History Center Library

Sub-group III of this collection at the Fairfield Museum and History Center Library consists of documents from the Fairfield, Connecticut Custom House, dated 1803-1819 and 1853.

United States Custom House Records, Providence, Rhode Island, 1789-1940, Rhode Island Historical Society

This collection at the Rhode Island Historical Society consists of the records of the U.S. Custom House at Providence, Rhode Island, spanning the years 1790-1900.

New York Custom House Records, 1792-1896, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library

This collection at the New York Public Library contains materials from the Alexander Hamilton United States Custom House in New York, New York. The first series, 1792-1894, represents the bulk of the papers and consists of letters, certificates of registration for crews and vessels, returns of manifests, documents regarding imports and exports, petitions for various positions and contracts. The second series, 1833-1840, consists of vouchers and receipts that were generated from the construction of a custom house under Commissioners Samuel Swartwout, Walter Bourne and Elisha Tibbits.

United States, Custom House, San Francisco Records, 1847-1912, The Bancroft Library, The University of California, Berkeley

This collection of materials at the University of California, Berkeley, consists of documents from the San Francisco Custom House. It contains correspondence, accounts, powers of attorney for sale of ships and cargoes, bills of sale, certificates, reports and miscellaneous papers.

Records of custom houses, toll collectors, and the U.S. Treasury Department, 1789-1870,  Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University

This collection at Harvard Business School's Baker Library consists of records pertaining to custom houses, toll collectors, and the U.S. Treasury Department, dated 1797 to 1870.

Selected Bibliography

Futrell, William H. The History of American Customs Jurisprudence. New York: Published Privately, 1941.

Mallory, John A., compiler. Compiled Statutes of the United States, 1913, Embracing the Statutes of the United States of a General and Permanent Nature in Force December 31, 1913, Vol. 3. St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1914.

Stein, Douglas L. American Maritime Documents, 1776-1860, Illustrated and Described. Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc., 1992.

Wescott, Ralph Wesley. An Historical Account of the Customs Service, The Buildings and Some of the Principal Persons Connected Therewith at the Port of Philadelphia. Camden, NJ: The Haddonfield Craftsmen, Inc., 1934.

Whiteman, Maxwell. Forgers & Fools: The Strange Career of “Baron” Weisberg and the Incredible Story of Documents Destroyed and Disburdened from the Philadelphia Custom House. New York: The Typofiles, 1986.

Neville Peterson, LLP, “Duty Drawback: Fundamental Concepts and Techniques”