PNC-Riggs Bank Records
Scope and Content Note
The PNC-Riggs Bank Collection contains bank ledgers, signature books, stock certificates, stock warrants, Board of Directors, executive, departmental, and committee meeting minutes, financial reports to stockholders and government institutions, examiners' reports, correspondence, news clippings, press releases, advertising, marketing and promotional materials, maps, audio/video materials, and a small number of photographs. The materials date from 1809-2004.
The collection consists of the institutional and patron records of Riggs Bank, its immediate predecessor banks, Riggs & Co. and Corcoran and Riggs, and banks that it acquired or merged with during the early to mid-twentieth century. This includes Central Savings Bank/Hamilton Savings Bank/Hamilton National Bank, Northwest Savings Bank/Northwest National Bank, Farmers and Mechanics National Bank, Washington Loan and Trust, Lincoln National Bank, and the National Bank of Washington. Records also document Riggs Bank's acquisition of select assets of the former Chevy Chase Savings Bank. Prior to its merger with Riggs, the National Bank of Washington merged with Central National Bank, Hamilton National Bank, and the Anacostia National Bank and there also are a small number of records from these institutions.
Please note that the bulk of records are from Riggs Bank and its predecessors, Farmers and Mechanics National Bank, Washington Loan and Trust, and the National Bank of Washington.
Recognizable patron names, both individual and corporate, of all of the banks are noted in the individual records below when their respective accounts appear. In several instances, Corcoran and Riggs, Riggs & Co., Riggs Bank, and Farmers and Mechanics National Bank identified African American patrons by race on their account pages within deposit ledgers. These names are included.
In spite of its large size, the records in this collection represent just a portion of the original volume of records created by the banks, especially those acquired by Riggs. There are no records from the Liberty National Bank either before or after its decision to merge with the National Bank of Washington. In the case of Riggs, it maintained and grew its historical collection during the mid-late twentieth century, most notably under the stewardship of marketing and corporate communications director Roland Carr, who retired as a senior vice president in 1973. Carr retained the older records and the nineteenth century ledgers were originally stored in the basement of the 7th Street branch and then moved to facilities on Seventeenth Street by the turn of the twenty first century. Records held at the Farmers and Mechanics, Park Road, and Chevy Chase branches were subsequently moved to Seventeenth Street as well. Upon its purchase of Riggs in 2005, PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. assumed ownership of this collection and donated it to George Washington University in 2007.
Please see MS2221, "Guide to the Corcoran and Riggs partnership documents, 1840-1848" for related materials.
- Creation: 1809-2004
Restrictions to Access
Materials containing personally identifiable information relating to individuals are restricted for 72 years from date of creation.
copyright 2008 The George Washington University. All rights reserved.
Riggs Bank enjoyed a long-standing history in Washington, D.C. from 1840 until 2005. In 1840 George Washington Riggs, son of New York merchant and former Georgetown businessman Elisha Riggs, Sr., became a partner in William Corcoran's four-year-old exchange and banking house in Washington, D.C. The institution re-opened as Corcoran and Riggs, a private bank of deposit. Both men had strong connections to Washington, D.C., to international and domestic business, and to banking. Corcoran previously had handled financial transactions for Elisha Riggs, Sr. The Riggs family would remain directly involved in the company until the turn of the twentieth century. When George Washington Riggs left his position in 1848, his half-brother Elisha Riggs, Jr. served as Corcoran’s partner. Following Corcoran’s 1854 retirement from the bank to pursue philanthropic opportunities, the institution was renamed Riggs & Co. and George Washington Riggs reassumed leadership from his half-brother until his death in 1881.
In 1845 Corcoran and Riggs moved into quarters near Fifteenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, the former home of the Second Bank of the United States. This capital location offered the opportunity for strong relations with the United States government and, during the mid- to late-nineteenth century, Corcoran and Riggs and later Riggs & Co. financed a number of federal endeavors. In 1847, the bank received more than a $15 million Mexican War Loan from the Treasury Department, which helped finance the war. Two decades later the institution provided the $7.2 million in gold to purchase Alaska. Riggs also began serving the financial needs of U.S. Presidents, including John Tyler, James Polk, Franklin Pierce, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Grover Cleveland, as well as Cabinet members, Congressmen, and other politicians, helping the institution to become known as “The Bank of Presidents.” The bank also had a New York office until 1889.
The bank incorporated to form the public Riggs National Bank in 1896 and began selling shares of stock. However, the Riggs family's direct influence soon ended. By 1896, only George Washington Riggs’ son E. Francis Riggs was a partner and the new Board of Directors elected him as a director, but not a bank officer. He subsequently resigned. While his cousin Lawrason Riggs then served as a bank director for two years, his resignation in 1898 brought an end to active involvement of George Washington Riggs' heirs in the bank's business. The Board instead elected Charles Carroll Glover, a partner at the bank since 1870, as president in 1896. Under Glover’s stewardship, the company transitioned from private to a rapidly growing public financial institution. Riggs Bank soon constructed a new headquarters at 1503 Pennsylvania Avenue, next door to its old building. In tandem with this flourishing development, Riggs Bank also experienced legal challenges. Beginning in 1914, Riggs became embroiled in a controversy with the Comptroller of the Currency stemming over stock investments and correspondent relationships with New York banks. This resulted in a year of examination by national bank examiners, litigation, and a trial where former U. S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft appeared as character witnesses for Riggs bank officers.
During the leadership of Glover’s successors, Milton Ailes and Robert V. Fleming, Riggs continued to grow, both in prestige and physical size. The bank actively engaged in Liberty Loan drives during World War I and the institution opened a trust department, experienced a significant increase in deposits, and established a new savings deposit system beginning in the early 1920s. Fleming later acted as an advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Depression and served as president of the American Banking Association. Through a combination of acquisition and internal growth, Riggs also enlarged its operations and began serving more outlying areas of Washington through branch offices. The company opened a Dupont Circle branch and consolidated with Hamilton National Bank (founded in 1917 as Central Savings Bank, later renamed Hamilton Savings Bank) in 1922. Riggs merged with Northwest National Bank in 1925 (founded in 1915 as Northwest Savings Bank) and then with Farmers and Mechanics National Bank in 1928. It later purchased a portion of the assets of the former Chevy Chase Savings Bank in 1933.
Of these banks, Farmers and Mechanics National Bank was the oldest institution, initially organized in 1814 in Georgetown. Founded by elite members of the mercantile class, Farmers and Mechanics’ directors included William Marbury, the plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison, and Romulus Riggs, younger brother of Elisha Riggs, Sr. Although Farmers and Mechanics worked with the federal government, including purchasing government bonds to support the War of 1812, it also served Georgetown businesses in this key port city.
Riggs continued to expand and strengthen its federal government ties in the 1940s and 1950s. It provided banking services to the men and women who relocated to Washington, D.C. during World War II, opened an office at Walter Reed Hospital, and sold more than $230 million in bonds to support the war, exceeding its quota. In addition, Robert Fleming served as chairman of a financial advisory committee to the Secretary of the Treasury. Riggs began to issue real estate loans in the 1930s and, following the War, advertised GI, home, auto and other loans. As one part in a series of bank mergers in the capital during the post-war years, Riggs merged with Washington Loan and Trust in 1954 and, four years later, consolidated with the Lincoln National Bank, despite the objections of Lincoln's chairman and key stock holder. Established in 1889, Washington Loan and Trust was Washington D.C.’s first trust company while Lincoln National Bank, founded in 1890, primarily served small city businesses and located its offices in commercial areas of Washington, D.C. Lincoln began a period of significant growth and expansion around World War I and eventually opened three branch offices. Less than a year after the merger, former Lincoln National Bank president Richard A. Norris, became president of Riggs.
During the last half of the twentieth century, Riggs solidified its stature as Washington D.C.'s leading bank and experienced growth both inside Washington and in nearby markets. It continued to serve U.S. Presidents and other city leaders as well as area citizens. Riggs opened additional branch offices during the period, including facilities in Southeast, the Watergate area, and L'Enfant Plaza. In 1981 Joe Albritton became chairman of the Board of Directors after purchasing a majority of the bank's stock and Riggs Bank became a wholly owned subsidiary of the newly formed Riggs National Corporation. Later in that decade new banking regulations allowed Riggs to acquire banks in Maryland and Virginia and subsequently establish multiple branch offices in these states. By 1990 it operated 30 branch offices in Washington, D.C., 18 in northern Virginia, and eight in Maryland.
In 1990 Riggs purchased the National Bank of Washington. Founded in 1809 as the Bank of Washington, the National Bank of Washington was the first bank established in the city. Like Riggs, its patrons included many of Washington's leaders and well-known residents including Presidents James Monroe and John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, John Marshall, and the Carrolls of Duddington. Daniel Carroll was the bank's first president. The National Bank of Washington also worked with the United States government and its loans financed federal projects, such as the rebuilding efforts after the War of 1812. During much of the twentieth century, the National Bank of Washington was the second largest bank in the city behind Riggs. It pursued expansion opportunities and merged with Central National Bank in 1907, consolidated with Hamilton National Bank in 1954, with Liberty National Bank in 1957, and with Anacostia National Bank in 1960. In 1949 the United Mine Workers purchased more than a 70 percent controlling interest in the bank and sold this stake in 1985 to Colson Inc., an investment group.
In 2005 PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. of Pittsburgh acquired Riggs National Corporation and its banking operations.
1900 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Collection consists of the records of Riggs Bank (1896-2005) and its predecessor institutions, Riggs & Co. and Corcoran and Riggs. It also contains records from banks that Riggs acquired or merged with during the early to mid-twentieth century: Central Savings Bank/Hamilton Savings Bank, Northwest Savings Bank, Farmers and Mechanics National Bank, Washington Loan and Trust, Lincoln National Bank, and the National Bank of Washington. The collection includes records of the accounts of nineteenth and early twentieth century U.S. Presidents, Cabinet members, Congressmen, and other well-known citizens. It documents the Riggs and National Bank of Washington role in financing federal projects in Washington, D.C. and the role that the Farmers and Mechanics National Bank played in the development of Georgetown. Documents the day-to-day operations of the bank and its influence on the economic life of Washington, D.C. and the greater financial services industry. The materials date from 1809-2004.
Organization of the Collection
The collection is organized into record groups by bank: Riggs Bank, Farmers and Mechanics National Bank, the National Bank of Washington, Washington Loan and Trust, Lincoln National Bank, Northwest Savings Bank, and Central Savings Bank/Hamilton Savings Bank. The Riggs Bank's record group is further divided into the subgroups reflecting bank history: Corcoran and Riggs, Riggs & Co., and Riggs Bank. The National Bank of Washington record group is further divided into subgroups documenting the bank's own records and those of the banks it acquired prior to its merger with Riggs: the National Bank of Washington, Central National Bank, Anacostia National Bank, and Hamilton National Bank.
Each record group and subgroup is divided into series, although the number of series vary by the size of each record group. Series include: corporate secretary, president and chairman, cashier, loans and credit, general operations, deposit accounts, trust, branch relations, correspondent relationships, advertising and marketing, corporate communications, and personnel and human resources.
Many of the series are further divided into subseries where applicable or combined, depending upon the number of records.
Materials may be stored off-site, and may require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.
Gift of PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., 2007.
General Physical Description note
1930.76including ca. 1250 bank ledgers, 370 manuscript boxes
Processing Information note
Processed by Jodi Boyle, 2007-2008
Encoded by Jodi Boyle with technical assistance from Steven Mandeville-Gamble, 2008
This finding aid was revised in March 2022 to address harmful descriptive language. Staff removed aggrandizing language in the Collection Level Abstract, Biographical/Historical Note, and the Scope and Contents. The Scope and Contents note of Record Group 1 Subgroup 3 Series 10 Subseries 8 (Oversized Advertisements, 1947-2004) was also edited. To see the description prior to revisions, please view the previous version of the PNC-Riggs Bank Records finding aid.
- Riggs, Elisha (Person)
- Corcoran & Riggs (Organization)
- Glover, C.C. (Charles Carroll), 1846-1936 (Person)
- Washington Loan & Trust Company (Organization)
- Lincoln National Bank (Organization)
- Hamilton National Bank (Organization)
- Riggs National Bank (Organization)
- National Bank of Washington (Washington, D.C.) (Organization)
- Riggs and Co. (Organization)
- Northwest Savings Bank (Organization)
- Central Savings Bank/Hamilton Savings Bank (Organization)
- Central National Bank (Washington, D.C.) (Organization)
- Riggs, George Washington (Person)
- Anacostia Bank (Washington, D.C.) (Organization)
- Fleming, Robert Isaac (Person)
- Farmers and Mechanics National Bank, Frederick, Md. (Organization)
- Corcoran, W. W. (William Wilson) (Person)
Genre / Form
- Inventory of the PNC-Riggs Bank Records, 1809-2004
- Processed by: Jodi Boyle;machine-readable finding aid created by: Jodi Boyle
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.