History


History

Celebrating 170 years of history-making women

From doctors and advocates to some of the most powerful women in financing, we’re applauding the many firsts since Henry Wells and William G. Fargo launched their innovative start-up in 1852.


History

How Wells Fargo began marching with pride

Wells Fargo is commemorating 30 years of celebration and progress with the LGBTQ+ community


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Funding a solar revolution

The 1970s energy crisis and a growing environmental movement created the first commercial solar projects in the 1970s, funded by Wells Fargo.


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A Renaissance woman: Cassie Hill

Cassie Hill not only served as an express agent for Wells Fargo in Roseville, California, from 1884 to 1908, she also served as a local agent for the Southern Pacific Railroad and her town’s telegraph operator.


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Keeping customers’ valuables secure: Wells Fargo’s treasure boxes

Wells Fargo’s iconic treasure boxes were one of the first ways the company kept its customers’ valuables secure.


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William M. Robison: ‘A very noteworthy pioneer’

William M. Robison, Wells Fargo’s express messenger in Stockton, California, in the 1850s, transported millions in gold for the company and its customers — while also advocating for equal rights.


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How Wells Fargo became known as the ‘modern Santa Claus’

By treating packages with care, hiring more people, providing easy access to ship gifts, and extending hours, Wells Fargo became known as the ‘modern Santa Claus’ in the early 20th century.


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Averting a Y2K crisis with years of preparation

How Wells Fargo — and the banks that are now a part of Wells Fargo — prepared 20 years ago for Y2K and ensured that a worldwide crisis never happened.


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A ticket to opportunity

A stagecoach ride in 1861 led Samuel Clemens to new opportunities in Nevada, where he started his writing career under the pen name Mark Twain.


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The story of one of America’s first female military pilots

Elizabeth “Betty” Wall became a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots program during World War II after a loan from her bank helped her learn how to fly.


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The first banking solutions for customers who are blind

Before the 1970s, many bank customers with visual impairments had to depend on friends and family to handle their finances —until banks began providing new options.


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‘The man who had lived adventures beyond imagination’

Before Andy Hall was a Wells Fargo shotgun messenger who died in the line of duty, he was a part of the historic Powell Expedition in the 1860s. His family, local citizens, and Wells Fargo recently honored him during Andy Hall Day.


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Wells Fargo’s long history of serving Spanish-speaking customers

Since the 1800s, when Wells Fargo offered in-language services and hired Spanish-speaking team members, the company has strived to best serve its Hispanic customers.


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How Wells Fargo used secret codes to do business

In the 1800s, the telegraph allowed Wells Fargo to do business and help customers transfer money. To secure messages and minimize risk, the company used a system of encryption with secret codes.


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How Wells Fargo helped San Francisco’s cable cars get up the hill

San Francisco’s cable cars have been an important part of the city’s identity — and Wells Fargo has been there to help fund and preserve them since the 1870s.


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When banner ads roamed the earth, big names got a start

Wells Fargo wagons once boasted beautiful banner ads created by well-known artists such as Adolph Treidler and Edward Hopper.


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She couldn’t vote, but she could heal

When Florence Scott graduated in 1896, she couldn’t vote, but she could practice medicine. And so she did. She also made history as Wells Fargo’s first company doctor.


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When AIDS crisis hit home, these coworkers stepped up

A Wells Fargo team member stepped in to lead Shanti Project, a valuable community organization that helped San Franciscans respond to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.


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A classic song to kick off wedding season

Pop-up video: When a bank debuted “We’ve Only Just Begun” in 1970, branches were flooded with requests to use the song at weddings and graduations.


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The golden spike that united the nation

On this day 150 years ago, a crowd gathered in Utah to witness the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad.


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Letters from incarceration camps

When Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes into federal incarceration camps in 1942, their banker J. Elmer Morrish made it his mission to support them in any way possible.


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Before apps, there was a Wells Fargo agent for that

In the last half of the 1800s, Wells Fargo’s network of hundreds of agents would take care of a customer’s personal or commercial business by commission, setting off to pay a bill in person, file a deed, or even help make special purchases for hard-to-find fancy doorknobs, a saxophone instruction manual, or a large 34-star U.S. flag.


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How Wells Fargo secretly moved $3 billion through the streets of San Francisco

Rare video from 1915 shows Wells Fargo successfully moving $121 million — or $3 billion in today’s dollars — securely through the streets of San Francisco.


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How American women in the 1700s ran their businesses

When women in early America needed access to credit and payment tools, they turned to the Bank of North America in Philadelphia, America’s first commercial bank, and today Wells Fargo.


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‘A pioneer’ in international banking: Birtan Aka

In the late 1960s, Birtan Aka became the first female banking officer to represent a U.S. bank overseas, working in Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.


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From fighting slavery to public service: Mifflin Gibbs

Mifflin Wistar Gibbs lived a life of service and activism. As he fought to end slavery, served as a politician for change, and became a successful African American business owner in Gold Rush California, Wells Fargo was there to help in his pursuits.


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Good luck comes in red envelopes

Since 1961, Chinese customers preparing Lunar New Year gifts of “lucky money” have turned to Wells Fargo for festive envelopes.


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‘Hold-the-Fort’ Ross stops a train robbery

Wells Fargo Express Messenger Aaron Y. Ross showed a deep commitment to protecting customers’ assets during a train robbery attempt in 1883.


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When Santa travels by stagecoach, Wells Fargo stays open

Julia L. Jones, a Wells Fargo agent in Mariposa, California, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, provided a link for her customers to the outside world — and even stayed open on Christmas Day so they could receive their gifts.


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Ponies, vacations, and cars: The story behind bank giveaways

As banks like Wells Fargo underwent a revolution in the mid-1900s, giveaways were a way to attract new customers and, over time, become reflections of shared memories and lifelong relationships.


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From above the Civil War battlefield to the bank

Before founding Citizens Bank, now a part of Wells Fargo, in Los Angeles in the late 1800s, Thaddeus Lowe was a renowned inventor and the chief aeronaut for the Union Army Balloon Corps.


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A stagecoach’s long road

Find out how the historic stagecoach came to Wells Fargo’s museum in San Francisco — and what significant events were part of its journey.


History

How a father’s love led to an innovative way to read

Find out how a Wells Fargo business loan helped people with blindness and low vision have more access to reading materials.


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From ‘prettiest’ banker to one of the ‘most powerful women of the century’

Mary Roebling was the first woman to run a major U.S. bank. She made history in 1937 when she became president of Trenton Trust Company, now part of Wells Fargo.


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Inventor makes a dollar sign appear. The rest was TV history

Learn about Philo T. Farnsworth’s invention — and how backing from a bank helped bring TV into homes today.


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How Wells Fargo helped revolutionize the way Americans ate

Learn how Wells Fargo’s Food Products Department helped farmers and gave customers a new way to buy the foods they loved.


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Where in the world has the stagecoach been?

Find out how Wells Fargo expanded its presence from California to 38 overseas offices, serving customers worldwide today.


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How a bank commercial led to a hit song

Find out how a song originally written for a bank commercial became a hit — and one of the most popular wedding songs.


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The real story behind the Pony Express

Find out how the Pony Express allowed people across the U.S. to hear the latest news and get in touch with friends and family quicker than ever — and why a national crisis made the service essential.


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Enlisting the stagecoach during WWI

Find out why Wells Fargo & Co. closed more than 10,000 express offices around the country 100 years ago.


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From motor banks to mobile banking

Find out how the introduction of motor banks in the 1930s made banking more convenient for customers — and led to future innovations.


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Wells Fargo’s earliest risk managers

Find out how Wells Fargo’s special agents in the 1800s helped protect the company and its customers.


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Supporting customers faced with prejudice

After Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, Wells Fargo agents testified on behalf of Chinese customers and supported their businesses.


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The journey of Wells Fargo’s ‘gems of beauty’

Find out how Wells Fargo’s stagecoaches in 1868 were a “sight never seen before” and how some of those stagecoaches live on today.


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Making Wells Fargo a ‘greener’ bank in the 1970s

Find out how Wells Fargo’s first recycling program began — and led to decades of sustainability and corporate responsibility.


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Helping San Francisco rise from the ashes

Find out how Wells Fargo’s bank and express companies helped communities recover after a devastating earthquake and fires struck San Francisco in 1906.


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The men who founded Wells Fargo

Throughout their lives, Henry Wells and William G. Fargo, the founders of Wells, Fargo & Co., were known for their innovation and dedication to customers.


History

The history of skipping clocks ahead

Find out why Americans started observing daylight saving time.


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A pioneer for female leaders

In 1967, Shirley Nelson made history when she became the first female branch manager for Wells Fargo, paving the way for other female leaders.


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From civil rights activist to banking leader

Find out how Robert "Patt" Patterson went from being a civil rights activist to the first African American in Greensboro, North Carolina, to hold a management position at a major bank.


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Wells Fargo’s faithful companion canines

In honor of the 2018 Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dog, meet some of the dogs that served as devoted companions and protectors of Wells Fargo team members.


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A Wells Fargo board member’s fight against slavery

James McKaye, an original board member for Wells Fargo, was an abolitionist whose work led to the creation of the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1864 to protect the rights of African Americans.


History

A legacy of women in leadership

Elizabeth “Betsy” Duke, who is making history as the first woman to serve as board chair at one of the largest banks in the U.S., is following in the footsteps of female leaders at Wells Fargo.


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Getting the weather from a metal ball in the sky

Northwestern National Bank installed a 157-foot-tall Weatherball atop its building in downtown Minneapolis in 1949, making it the largest bank sign between Chicago and the West Coast.


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The ‘most colorful New Year’s Day tradition’

Find out the history of Wells Fargo’s participation in the annual New Year’s Day Rose Parade and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the work involved in preparing the company’s stagecoaches and floats.


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From trudging through snowdrifts to leading Wells Fargo

Find out how a Wells Fargo agent in 1864 stopped at nothing to deliver mail, money, and newspapers to customers — and how he became the company’s president.


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How horses have been the ‘pride of Wells Fargo service’

Wells Fargo’s horses have always been well-fed, well-cared for, and well-loved.


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Wells Fargo’s role in ‘the Great War’

A Wells Fargo historian explains how the company helped with financial and transportation needs during World War I.


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Yesterday’s ‘revolutionary form of currency’

A Wells Fargo historian shares how the exchange of money has evolved from papers with handwritten instructions and signatures to digital payments.


History

How a Mexican immigrant became a legend in Arizona

A Wells Fargo historian shares why an Arizona businessman and Wells Fargo express agent abandoned his freight company out of loyalty to the U.S.


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Dispensing money ‘like magic’

A Wells Fargo historian shares how the company’s ATMs have improved the customer experience over time.


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Saving the crowning jewel in the ‘Gem of the Southern Mines’

How a Wells Fargo express office that operated for more than 50 years in California overcame fires and a possible demolition to become a top attraction.


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Where Atari got game

A Wells Fargo historian shares how the company’s funding of Silicon Valley enterprises began with a video game for Atari.


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Historic letters open window to the past

A Wells Fargo historian shares how a newly digitized collection of historic letters is providing people around the world with a connection to the past.


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Wells Fargo’s evolving role in Canada

In honor of Canada’s 150th anniversary, a Wells Fargo historian shares the company’s history with the country.


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Summer ’67, when checks became ‘almost too pretty to cash’

A Wells Fargo historian shares how full-colored stagecoach designs made their way into Wells Fargo checkbooks, revolutionizing the ‘rather dull field’ of bank checks.


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How Wells Fargo got its Chinese name

A Wells Fargo historian shares how a banker — wanting to make his customers feel comfortable and welcomed — created the company’s Chinese name in 1971.


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‘Father of baseball’ once a Wells Fargo team member

Alexander Cartwright became Wells Fargo & Co.’s express agent in Honolulu in February 1862, but before that, he helped create the game of baseball.


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How one woman created a ‘stagecoach empire’ among men

In the late 1800s, Mary Langdon built a business that covered hundreds of miles along the Pacific Coast in a male-dominated industry.


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From Tuskegee Airmen to Wells Fargo team members

A Wells Fargo historian shares the stories of Col. George S. Roberts and Lt. Col. James A. Walker, two former team members who were part of the famous Tuskegee Airmen.


History

Slideshow: 100+ years of celebrating Lunar New Year

A Wells Fargo historian shares how the company has celebrated the Chinese lunar calendar since 1912.


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Wells Fargo in song

A Wells Fargo historian shares the company’s connection to the Broadway hit “The Music Man.”


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A long history of moving money around the world

Today’s online tool for sending cash to family members outside the U.S. is the latest incarnation of international service Wells Fargo has offered since the 19th Century.


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Distinguished career takes flight at Tuskegee

A Wells Fargo banker in Sacramento, California, George S. Roberts previously was a Tuskegee Airman in the 1940s — and a military pilot for more than 20 years.


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Pony Express riders: Young, fast, fearless

Wells Fargo operated the Pony Express for six months, and riders (most of them younger than 25) navigated blizzards, wolves, and 24-hour shifts to make deliveries.


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A sweet take on recycling

As an environmental advocate in 1972, Wells Fargo supplied customers with paper checks made not from wood pulp but from “bagasse” — a sugar cane residue.


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Wells Fargo in Mexico

Wells Fargo’s presence in Mexico dates to 1860, starting with express-related services and transitioning to financial services today.


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Wells Fargo in Hong Kong and Shanghai

Wells Fargo provided services to Chinese immigrants after the Gold Rush brought them to California in the 1850s. Today, that service extends to several locations overseas.


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Wells Fargo artifact . . . or not?

Because the history of Wells Fargo and the Old West resonates with so many people, “artifacts” turn up all the time. Most are fakes — and some aren’t even that old!


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Ties to national parks forged deep in mountains and rivers

As the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary, a new $250,000 grant from Wells Fargo continues a tradition of support for national parks that dates to the 1860s.


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Historical lithographs headed to a new Smithsonian museum

Items from the Wells Fargo collection will be included in the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.


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A renowned architect’s influence in Lincoln, Nebraska

Wells Fargo Center, at the corner of 13th and O streets in Lincoln, Nebraska, was built by the firm of architect I.M. Pei in 1976.


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Oldest ‘Jewel Box’ bank draws tourists in Minnesota

In 1908, architect Louis Sullivan designed a bank in a small farm town. Now, 106 years later, it’s a Wells Fargo store — and people are still talking about the light symphony he created.


History

Pinole mural brings community’s history to life

A mural in the local Wells Fargo banking store pays homage to the history, and people, of a Bay-area California town.