The $3 dollar bill

Wonder what the $3 invested by the 100 residents of Townsend in 1858 would translate into todays economy?

$3 in 1858 = $1039 in 2008

While there is no perfect comparison, economists suggest using Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  It is at least somewhat comparable over time (at least it has the same name).  While earning figures are also available, it is much harder to get those comparable over 150 years as the concept of working for pay has changed so much over time.  For example, how do you "value" the "earnings" of an 1858 farm family who produced their own food and clothing?  Economists did need to put a value on these things to construct the GDP measures for the 19th century.

•    In 1858, per capita U.S. gross domestic product was $135, measured in 1858 $$.   
•    $3 = 2.2% of 1858 per capita GDP
•    In 2008, per capita U.S. gross domestic product was $47,232, measured in 2008 $$.  
•    2.2% of $47,232 = $1,039

Sources:  Historical Statistics of United States,Millennial Edition Online,Cambridge University Press and 2009 Economic Report of the President

During our 2010 Challenge Campaign many donors chose to contribute $1000 by making recurring monthly payments of $16.67 per month over 5 years.  

Note: Our thanks to Ben King who created the $3 image honoring the establishment of a community book collection in 1858, the donors who funded the Hart Library Building, and the new library's dedication date.