Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s father, Moses Fox, became president of G. Fox & Co. upon the death of his father, Gerson Fox. Like his father before him, Moses Fox was a pillar in the Hartford community. Very few materials concerning his private life have made it into our collection, probably because he was an extremely private man who shunned all personal publicity. We do, however, have some of his financial papers detailing his household expenses between 1928 and 1937 for his home on 1040 Prospect Ave in Hartford. These expense lists offer an interesting look into the private life of a man who was at once both well-known and not known.
The household expense lists do not cover the entire period between 1928 and 1937, but do offer fragments of his financial life. Moses was somewhat meticulous with his finances. He always itemizes his expenses by month, totals each month, and then provides totals for a set number of months. At the end of the list, under the total house expense for the given months, is a listing for what half the total expenses would be. I believe he does this because he and his wife, Theresa, shared their home with Beatrice and her daughters during this time period and Beatrice would have contributed the other half of the household expenses.
A typical month in 1935 finds the household expenses totaling about $1500. Of that, about $415 a month (sometimes slightly more) is spent on domestic help and there is almost always a line item of miscellaneous totaling exactly $400. Other expenses include repairs, which are often further broken down by the type of repair like plumbing, chimney cleaning, or awnings, garden & lawn, laundry, and other usual expenses like electricity, gas, telephone, and groceries. While it may be typical of the time, I thought it was interesting that “milk” was listed separately from “groceries” and often exceeded $50 a month.
I wonder how future researchers will use these lists and if the kind and amount of expenses will tell us anything about how the Fox family was affected by the Great Depression. I find them very interesting, as well as a wonderful source of information, and sincerely hope that other people will also be interested in them. Feel free to stop by the CHS and check them out!