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Fondly, Pennsylvania

Fondly, Pennsylvania is HSP's main blog.  Here you will find posts on our latest projects and newest discoveries, as well articles on interesting bits of local history reflected in our collection.  Whether you are doing research or just curious to know more about the behind-the-scenes work that goes on at HSP, please read, explore, and join the conversation!

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Philadelphians, Chinese, and Chinese Philadelphians: Introduction

This has been my summer for first encounters.

Of course, there are the obvious ones that I feel obliged to mention. As a new intern at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, my first days here were spent trying to figure out what the words “historical,” “society” and, even better, “historical society” really meant. And while I have yet to reach a definitive conclusion, what I can say is that my query has led me to experience even more firsts. For the first time, I’ve learned how to navigate a card catalog, flipped the pages of documents that date back hundreds of years, and deciphered the curlicues of a merchant’s letter book.

However, there are other firsts I’ve had here that have been guided by my own interests in Philadelphia’s history. Despite the immensity of materials in HSP’s collections, I was set on exploring what they could offer to someone of an ethnic minority whose history has at times been marginalized from what is traditionally associated with the city of Philadelphia. Having little prior knowledge of the Chinese and Chinese American narrative in this city, I decided to start my introduction from documents capturing the first encounters between Philadelphians and Chinese.

Within the span of a short blog series, it is neither feasible for me to offer a comprehensive historical account, nor is it my goal to do so. Instead, it is my hope that as I am better acquainted with the collections at HSP, my writing may also provide small snippets of insight into the experiences, the concerns, and the people who occupy their own space in Philadelphia’s history.

Click here to read my first postPhiladelphians, Chinese, and Chinese Philadelphians: Narrating First Encounters.

Processing the Pennsylvania Abolition Society Papers: An Intern’s Experience

The following article is being posted on behalf of Tim Dewysockie, former intern of the archives department. Our thanks go out to him for the work that he completed on this important historical collection. --CH
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My internship in the Archives Department of HSP, which began in January and ends this month, was my first experience working in an archive. I discovered archives while pursuing my MLIS degree at Drexel University, where I became fascinated with how archivists manage aggregates of information. Coming from a library background I was accustomed to working with monographs, so it was a whole new way of understanding how to manage information and seemed very relevant in this digital age brimming with mass quantities of information.

My project at HSP was to improve access to the Pennsylvania Abolition Society (PAS) collection, PAS being the first abolition society in the United States formed in 1775. PAS is still in operation today and works to improve the conditions of African Americans. First, I conducted a shelf read of the 40 linear feet collection to make sure everything was in its right place. Second, I relabeled the boxes of the collection. Third, I arranged and described additions to the collection which spanned from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. Fourth, I recorded information from manumission and indenture records, or records of slaves being freed and indentured into servitude, into a database created for this project. I recorded information such as the names of former slaves, their ages, the length of their indenture, etc. This information will enhance the discoverability of these important documents by making them searchable through indexes. Lastly, I created an inventory of the collection, or a listing of the collection’s contents, in the collection’s new finding aid.

What was most satisfying about this project was working so closely with a single collection. Over the course of five months I grew to not only understand the organization and content of the collection, but also its significance. There are so many important stories in these documents, stories of former slaves being freed and indentured into servitude, the important role PAS played in the early years of the abolition movement, and much, much more. I cannot think of a more exciting first project than making this collection more accessible for researchers, to enable researchers to continue to discover these documents and tell their many vital stories about this chapter of our history.

See the recent blog post linked below to learn more about the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.

Riding the Forgotten Rails: Part 2

The second in a new series, the following article was written by HSP Digital Services Intern Mark Carnesi and is being posted on his behalf. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as Mark continues his look at the George A. Foreman scrapbook collection. Read part one here.


The first post in this series introduced the George A. Foreman scrapbooks on the Philadelphia Transportation Company [#3267] and gave a brief overview of the contents of this fascinating collection.  Let’s now take a closer look at an important aspect of the collection: the many women who worked at the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) in the 1940s and are depicted in the collection.

 

One thing that is evident in viewing the photographs and annotations in the collection is the vast majority of these women were in secretarial or administrative positions, including clerks, typists, stenographers, and office assistants.  At the same time, a common PTC role for women in the 1940s was to work as either an elevated or subway cashier.  A number of these women are depicted in the collection, including Emily Rinnert, the subject of a 1941 Public Ledger article entitled “Furious Tempo of Passing Throng Leaves Miss Emily R. Unruffled.”  In it, Ms. Rinnert talks about her experiences over the course of 29 years as a cashier on the Market Street El, although the author of the article seems most interested in the number of marriage proposals she had received from customers.  One gets the sense the author’s questions also left Ms. Rinnert unruffled, as she states “I always told them I had work to do.  And so I did.”

 

Other women depicted in the collection include PTC nurses as well as waitresses at The Tasty Inn, the lunch counter and soda fountain at the 69th Street Terminal, where one could buy an ice cream sundae for just 15 cents.  Foreman makes a point of noting the friendly and pleasant service he always received from the waitresses who worked there.

 

However, without question the woman who receives the most attention in the collection is Dorothy E. Williams, who was mentioned in the first post in this series.  Ms. Williams was, as noted in a 1943 article in the Evening Bulletin, the “first woman El motorman in the history of the Philadelphia Transportation Company.”  A former grocery store clerk, Ms. Williams was 23 when she joined the PTC in 1943, first as a platform guard and then as a motorwoman.  Mr. Foreman apparently knew her well and pays her a high compliment in his notes when he states she was “a quiet, efficient operator with a splendid record.”

New Books Now in the Historic Culinary Arts Collection

If you didn't know it already, HSP has a growing collection of books on historic cooking and the culinary arts! Here's a rundown of some books that were recently added to the library's collection. Click on the links for more information on each title from our online catalog Discover.


A Colonial Plantation Cookbook edited by Richard J. Hooker

TX 703 .H67 1984


Campfire Cookbook by Don and Pam Philpott

TX 652 .P455 2015


Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solomonov

TX 724 .S65 2015


Magpie: Sweets and Savories from Philadelphia's Favorite Pie Boutique by Holly Ricciardi

TX 773 .R493 2015


Early American Herb Recipes by Alice Cooke Brown

TX 819 .H4 B7


Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen

TX 649 .V66 2013


Hollywood Star Diet Book

PAM RM  222.2 .D67 1961


Recipes for Bakers and Confectioners by C. O. Boggs

PAM TX 771 .B64 1880


Good Things to Eat

PAM TX 765 .G66 1933


The Enterprising Housekeeper by Helen Louise Johnson

PAM TX 715 .J655 1906


 

Riding the Forgotten Rails: Part 1

The first in a series, the following article was written by HSP Digital Services Intern Mark Carnesi and is being posted on his behalf. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as Mark continues his look at the George A. Foreman scrapbook collection. 


Processing a collection here at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania can be a fascinating experience.  As you work your way through the collection it gradually reveals itself to you, including the many gems it contains.  The George A. Foreman scrapbooks on the Philadelphia Transportation Company [#3267] is clearly one of these collections. 

 

Foreman (1881-1950) was a conductor, motorman, and depot dispatcher for the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company (PRT) and its successor, the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC), for a total of 37 years until his retirement in 1947.  The bulk of the collection dates from the 1940s and consists of 18 small scrapbook albums that Mr. Foreman put together by hand.  They include photographs of PTC coworkers, Philadelphia public transit scenes, holiday cards received over the years, as well as newspaper clippings, billboard advertisements, letters from coworkers serving in the military during WWII, postcards, and other ephemera.

 

The majority of the photographs were taken by a coworker who always seemed to have his camera at the right place and time.  These fascinating and evocative photos shed light on so many things from the era.  Among others, these include public transit, working conditions, social customs, men’s and women’s fashions, life during World War II, urban living, advertising and, of course, the growth and evolution of Philadelphia.  As for the latter, many of the photos were taken from the Market-Frankford El and therefore provide a bird’s-eye view of the city, including its architecture, people at work and play, billboard advertisements, and flow of city life. 

 

These photographs also show us what is not there or, better yet, there only in small numbers.  For example, most of Foreman’s coworkers in the 1940s were, like him, male and white.  However, it was at this time that the Philadelphia Transportation Company began to employ more women and minorities, and the collection reflects these changes within the PTC and society at large.  One volume contains photos and newspaper clippings from The Evening Bulletin of Dorothy E. Williams, the “first woman El motorman in the history of the Philadelphia Transportation Company.” 

 

As society changed, so did the PTC and other organizations like it, and this collection provides a unique window onto a very interesting, yet different, place and time.

 

The sound of music, from city's earliest days

Often thought of as the last bastions of hush, libraries are louder than one might have heard. So tune in and listen closely to Philadelphia's 300-plus-year musical legacy.

Forsaking it in their religious services and sneering at it in their private lives, the Quaker founders of Philadelphia were a decidedly unmusical bunch. Fortunately for future ears, other religious and ethnic groups were counted among the city's early settlers, many with active musical traditions - and instruments - in tow.

The mystic Johannes Kelpius and his small band of pietist pilgrims developed a sophisticated musical practice while living alone in the woods along the Wissahickon Creek near Germantown. These German immigrants provided the music for the dedication of Gloria Dei, "Old Swedes," Church on July 2, 1700, the earliest documented musical performance in Philadelphia.

 

Portrait of Johannes Kelpius by Dr. Christopher Witt circa 1705

 

Francis Johnson, a Philadelphia-born bugle and violin virtuoso, published in 1817 his Collection of New Cotillions, the first compositions published by an African American, and Johnson soon became the first American - black or white - to lead a musical ensemble on a European tour.

The musical contributions of members of Philadelphia's ethnic and immigrant communities continued into the 19th century, with its own market for sheet music developing in the 1830s. In the absence of recorded music and earbuds, popular tunes known as parlor songs were written for amateur musicians and performed in the homes of their family and friends.

 

1846 Portrait (lithograph from a daguerreotype) of Francis "Frank" Johnson (1792-1844)

 

For many aspiring composers, vocalists, and musicians in antebellum Philadelphia, these parlor songs served not only as entertainment but as a means to conserve cultural traditions in their adopted country. The Balch ethnic sheet music collection contains hundreds of these songbooks and other sheet music dating from the 1820s through the 1960s, and was recently processed (archivalspeak for organizing and inventorying the materials) by HSP's archivists.

 

At The Yiddisher Ball circa 1912

 

A kaleidoscope of languages is represented in the spirituals, folk songs, traditional anthems, ballads, and other popular tunes written by and for the city's Jewish, Greek, Italian, Irish, Swedish, and other ethnic and immigrant communities. Caches of sheet music also tell the stories of Philadelphia's Hawaiian, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Scottish, and other groups underrepresented in other cultural repositories.

 

Hay erg-punchʻ -- Armenian Song Bouquet circa 1940

 

Until a 2002 merger with HSP, the materials in the Balch sheet music collection were held by the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, one of the nation's premier research centers for American immigrant and ethnic experiences. HSP now oversees the care and use of the Balch materials, allowing the library to give a full-throated voice to the history of all Philadelphians.

"Get loud" is perhaps the advice least expected to leave a librarian's lips. But the scores of sheet music sitting silent on the shelves are inviting the public to do just that, to turn up the volume on a segment of Philadelphia's musical legacy long muted.

 

Arrah Wanna: An Irish Indian Matrimonial Venture circa 1906

 

HSP's latest document display features documents from more than three centuries of Philadelphia's music history, including several items from the Balch ethnic sheet music collection. Free and open to the public through March 11.

Join HSP for the remaining three programs in the four-part Memories & Melodies series. Register for two and get the third program free.

This article originally appeared in the February 21, 2016, Currents section of the Philadelphia Inquirer as part of HSP's weekly series, Memory Stream.

 

Four Franklin Letters Re-discovered, Part II

The following article was written by HSP volunteer Randi Kamine and is being posted on her behalf. Many thanks to Archival Processor Megan Evans for helping prepare these articles for publication. To read the first part of this article, please click here or on the article's title in the right sidebar.

Almost two years later, in a letter dated April 11, 1767, Benjamin Franklin was still writing to John Ross about the “Change of Government in the Proprietary Colonies.” Things were not going well. Franklin found sympathy for the cause from men “of Weight,” but with controversies concerning British rule occurring in New York and Boston, “nothing is so little interesting to them as our Application” to go forward. In fact, although by 1763 several colonies surrendered their charters and became royal colonies, Pennsylvania remained a proprietary colony until the American Revolution.


Benjamin Franklin to John Ross, April 11, 1767

The sentence in the letter mentioning the “Subject of the Circuit Bill,” refers to a bill that would require judges of the Supreme Court to ride circuit in the counties more often. Under the existing laws, the judges rode the circuit too infrequently – causing many trials to be transferred to the Philadelphia courts. This was inconvenient to litigants and the juries. Ross, a prominent attorney in Philadelphia, would be well read on the latest news of this nature.

Unfortunately, the “little Essay of an Inscription to the Memory of my departed amiable young Friend” referred to in the fourth paragraph of the third letter is not included in the Read family letters (Collection 0537). However, a transcription of the eulogy can be found on the American Philosophical Society website. Apparently, it was sent along with the letter. It reads:

In Memory of Margaret,
Daughter of John and [Elizabeth] Ross
Who deceased [August 20] 1766
Aged 19 Years
Lamented by all that knew her
For all that knew her lov’d her
The Delight of her Parents & Relations
Innocence & Sweetness of Manner Sincerity
Benevolence of Heart
Render’d her

The interjection of such a personal response to his friend’s daughter’s death shows warmth that is not apparent in the other three letters found in the Read collection.

The fourth, and longest, letter, dated May 14, 1768, once again has Franklin lamenting the trouble in western Pennsylvania and the lack of success in his attempt to make Pennsylvania a Royal colony. He comes close to admitting defeat when he writes, “I have urged over and over the Necessity of the Change we desire; but this Country itself being at present in a Situation very little better, weakens our argument that a Royal Government would be better managed and safer to live under than that of a Proprietary.” One of Franklin’s most famous quotes was written in this letter. Commenting on the “disorders on our [Pennsylvania’s] Frontiers,” as well as “lawless Riot and Confusion” in London, he writes of “a People who are ungratefully abusing the best Constitution and the best King any Nation was ever blest with.”

Benjamin Franklin to John Ross, May 14, 1768

Franklin tells Ross about the efforts that the Church of England (the Anglican Church) was making to establish itself in America. Throughout much of the seventeenth century, the Church suffered from a slow rate of growth and a shortage of clergymen in the colonies. By 1768 there had been some growth of Anglican congregations along the Atlantic seaboard, the largest concentration being in the South. In southern colonies, the Anglican Church was actually the established, state-supported church, as it was in England. In Philadelphia, Christ Church was founded in 1695 by members of the Church of England. The main building of the church was constructed by 1744, twenty-four years before this letter was written. It stands today at Second and Market Streets. Nonetheless, as Franklin notes, the colonies were having a hard time getting ministers to come over to serve the colonies, “So apprehensive are Ministers of engaging in any novel Measure.”

Franklin was ready to do his friend a good turn. In this forth letter he informs Ross that he has “named Mr. Yeates at the Treasury.” John Yeates was married to Ross’s sister. And in his reference to “Mr. Gurney the Officer,” he is letting Ross know that he made inquiries about a young man who wished to marry his daughter Catherine.

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To be sure, the reader of these four letters learns something about Benjamin Franklin. But just as significantly, these letters give insight into the political, cultural, and religious events surrounding Philadelphia in the 1760s. The Historical Society is a great place to explore the life and times of Ben Franklin and colonial Philadelphia. And one never knows when a surprise document may come to the fore.

 

Bibliography

It’s true that many documents mentioned in this essay can be read online.  I posit, however, that it is enlightening to read original or contemporaneous documents.  Seeing the handwriting of the author, or a transcript printed shortly after an event, gives the reader a sharper sense of the time the document was written. And for some of us, it’s just plain fun.

HSP Documents:

Read family letters (Collection 0537).

Ralph L. Ketcham, “Benjamin Franklin and William Smith: New Light on an Old Philadelphia Quarrel,”  The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 88 No. 2 (April, 1964), pp 142-163. [Call number: UPA F 146 .P65]

HSP documents at the Library Company of Philadelphia (LCP):

Great Britain Parliament, 1766 House of Commons.  The examination of Doctor Benjamin Franklin: before an august assembly, relating to the repeal of the Stamp-act &c, Philadelphia: Hall & Sellers, 1766. [Call number:  Rare/AM 1766 FRA 51952.0.3]

For information on the Proprietary party v. the Quaker party:

Galloway, Joseph. The speech of Joseph Galloway, esq, one of the members for Philadelphia County…, Philadelphia: W. Dunlap, 1764. Call number:  Rare/AM 1764 Gallo 8605.0.10.

Hunt, Isaac. Looking-glass for Presbyterians: or a brief examination of their loyalty, merit and other qualifications for government…, Philadelphia: Armbruster, 1764. Call number: HSP in LCP/AM 1764 Hun Ar64 L87.

Williamson, Hugh. The Plain-dealer or a few remarks upon Quaker-politicks, and their attempts to change the government of Pennsylvania:…, Philadelphia: A. Stewart, 1764. Call number: Rare/AM 1764 Wil.66 984.0.1.

For information on Franklin’s letters:

The American Philosophical Society and Yale University. Digital Edition by the Packard Humanities Institute. http://franklinpapers.org/franklin//

The Papers of Benjamin Franklin Project at Yale University. http://franklinpapers.yale.edu

The National Archives: Founders Online: http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-12-02-0083 [This site is very helpful in interpreting Benjamin Franklin’s letters. It is easily searchable and includes letters written to and from Franklin.]

Other documents:

John Ross to Benjamin Franklin 5/20/1765: http://smithrebellion1765.com/?page_id=393

For information on gout at the time of the letters:

Copland, James, A Dictionary of Practical Medicine, Volume 4  (Longman, Brown, Green:1858)

Four Franklin Letters Re-discovered, Part I

The following article was written by HSP volunteer Randi Kamine and is being posted on her behalf. Many thanks to Archival Processor Megan Evans for helping prepare these articles for publication.

One of the interesting things about processing a collection at HSP is that one never knows when a significant document might unexpectedly show up. For instance, four letters in Benjamin Franklin’s hand were brought to light when a finding aid was recently written for the Read family letters (Collection 0537). All four were written to John Ross, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer and frequent correspondent of Franklin’s. Ross was half-sister to Gertrude Ross Read, the wife of George Read of this collection who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Ross and Franklin had a political relationship as well as a friendship. Both were active in the politics of the time, especially in the rivalry between the Quaker and Proprietary parties that were fighting for control of the Pennsylvania assembly. Both Ross and Franklin were in support of the Quaker party and in opposition to the Proprietary party.

Franklin is well known as being a prodigious correspondent. However, “running into” these letters, without expecting to made processing the George Read papers a bit of an adventure. The four Franklin letters were written from London. They are dated February 14, 1765; June 8, 1765; April 11, 1767; and May 14, 1768. Valerie Lutz, Head of Manuscripts Processing at the American Philosophical Society is familiar with Ben Franklin’s handwriting and believes them to be authentic. In addition, the Franklin Papers’ Project at Yale has attributed these letters to Franklin. Although the Yale Project notes that these letters are in the possession of HSP, until the Read Family Papers were processed, it was not generally known where they were located.

Fortunately for the researcher, there is a plethora of information on Benjamin Franklin that is owned by HSP. In 1965, the Society entered into an agreement with The Library Company of Philadelphia (LCP) by which LCP administers the Society’s pre-1820 imprints. Many of HSP’s Franklin-related materials are housed right next door at The Library Company. A bibliography at the end of this essay will point interested readers to some of our extensive Benjamin Franklin and early Pennsylvania history documents.

Benjamin Franklin to John Ross, February 14, 1765

In the letters found in the Read family letters, Franklin addresses events happening in Philadelphia during his time away in London -- and the years 1765 to 1768 were dynamic ones for the city. Although he writes in the February 14 letter, “We have been of late so much engag’d in our general American Affairs, that it was necessary to let wait what related particularly to our Province sleep a little…,” Franklin nonetheless expressed his insights and opinions on the political machinations that directly affected Philadelphia.

In December 1764, Franklin was sent by the Pennsylvania assembly to England with a petition for King George III. The petition, penned by Franklin, asked that Pennsylvania be made a Royal colony rather than remain a proprietary province. It is this petition that Franklin refers to in the first letter of the four.

The Quakers had dominated the Pennsylvania Assembly since the 1701 Charter of Privileges. However, the mid-1750s saw power shifting away from the Quakers. By 1764 the Assembly had many non-Quaker leaders, was only nominally associated with the Society of Friends, and no longer predominately pacifist. This was in part due to the Proprietary party which primarily represented the special privileges of the proprietors as landlords and was the political rival of the Quaker party. Franklin, although not a Quaker, was aligned with the Quaker party. He therefore writes about the desire for a “happy Event to the Petition,” and the “dread of the Friends in Pensilvania falling under the domination of the Presbyterians” (the Proprietary party was sometimes referred to as the Presbyterian party). Although Franklin continues to report on the petition in all four of the letters in this group, in the end, both the Proprietary and Quaker parties disappeared as the Revolutionary struggle manifested, making the petition moot.

Many of us are familiar with the Stamp Act as a catalyst of the American Revolution. In March 1765 the English Parliament imposed a stamp duty on written documents that included newspapers, deeds, contracts and many other legal documents, as wells as ships’ manifests. Franklin was correct when he predicted in his February 14, 1765 letter above, “The Stamp Act, notwithstanding all the Opposition …will pass.” While in London, Franklin used his social connections and the English press to try to influence the government to repeal the tax. And the Stamp Act was, in fact, repealed in March 1766. Shortly before the repeal, Franklin went before the House of Commons to argue against the tax.

HSP has a copy of a transcript of Franklin’s testimony before the British House of Commons (see bibliography below). It is a must read for those interested in getting a feel for the experience. There is an interesting insert with the HSP transcript that is undated and not attributed:

"The appearance of Franklin before the House of Commons was the highpoint in the parade of English merchants, colonial agents and visiting Americans advocating the appeal of the Stamp Act. Hoping to achieve immediate repeal, Franklin minimized American opposition and conveyed the idea that external taxation would be accepted."

One must read the transcript personally to determine if Franklin succeeded in minimizing American opposition to the tax, and to determine how much influence Franklin might have had in the decision to repeal the tax.

Benjamin Franklin to John Ross, June 8, 1765

On a more personal level, in his second letter dated June 8, 1765, Franklin discusses gout, a malady from which both he and John Ross suffered. Franklin was one of its most famous sufferers, having written a dialogue between himself and “the Gout” in his well known satirical style. That essay was written in 1780, well after the letter in the Read family letters was written. However, Franklin’s sardonic humor shows through in this earlier letter to his friend. At the time this letter was written, pain caused by the condition was thought to increase resistance to the disease. Thus, Franklin made light of the obvious discomfort he was enduring. Franklin then discussed more serious matters. In the decades before the American Revolution there was great unrest in the western frontier of Pennsylvania between settlers and Native Americans. The massacre of twenty Conestoga Indians (also known as the Susquehannock) near Lancaster by the Paxton Boys in December 1763 is one of the more well known actions perpetrated by a vigilante group in American history. The Paxton Boys were never identified or punished for their murders. By 1765, the frontier in Pennsylvania was close to anarchy. There was an intense battle between the Scots-Irish immigrants and the Native Americans over land. In a letter to Franklin dated May 20, 1765, John Ross wrote, “…Another affair has happen’d of a very Extraordinary Nature, Even His Majestys troops have been attack’d and fired upon… .” Quakers, with whom Franklin was aligned, condemned the continuing violence, although little could be done to prevent it. Franklin writes in his June 8, 1765 letter (perhaps in answer to the letter Ross wrote to him on May 20), “The Outrages committed by the Frontier People are really amazing! But Impunity for former Riots has emboldened them.”

Franklin notes that the petition to end the proprietorship, written about in his February 14 letter, “has been becalm’d,” no doubt due to the preoccupation of colonial agents with the impending Stamp Act, the illness of the King during the first months of 1765, and other important business that the King’s government was attending to. The note at the bottom of the letter is in Ross’s hand, and appears on an otherwise blank page of Franklin’s letter. Apparently Ross included an extract from “governor F” and discussed further negotiations concerning the Proprietors.

 

Join us next week for Randi's analysis of the third and fourth Benjamin Franklin letters from the George Read family letters.

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Bibliography

It’s true that many documents mentioned in this essay can be read online.  I posit, however, that it is enlightening to read original or contemporaneous documents.  Seeing the handwriting of the author, or a transcript printed shortly after an event, gives the reader a sharper sense of the time the document was written. And for some of us, it’s just plain fun.

HSP documents:

Read family letters (Collection 0537).

Ralph L. Ketcham, “Benjamin Franklin and William Smith: New Light on an Old Philadelphia Quarrel,”  The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 88 No. 2 (April, 1964), pp 142-163. [Call number: UPA F 146 .P65]

HSP documents at the Library Company of Philadelphia (LCP):

Great Britain Parliament, 1766 House of Commons.  The examination of Doctor Benjamin Franklin: before an august assembly, relating to the repeal of the Stamp-act &c, Philadelphia: Hall & Sellers, 1766. Call number:  Rare/AM 1766 FRA 51952.0.3.

For information on the Proprietary party v. the Quaker party:

Galloway, Joseph. The speech of Joseph Galloway, esq, one of the members for Philadelphia County…, Philadelphia: W. Dunlap, 1764. Call number:  Rare/AM 1764 Gallo 8605.0.10.

Hunt, Isaac. Looking-glass for Presbyterians: or a brief examination of their loyalty, merit and other qualifications for government…, Philadelphia: Armbruster, 1764. Call number: HSP in LCP/AM 1764 Hun Ar64 L87.

Williamson, Hugh. The Plain-dealer or a few remarks upon Quaker-politicks, and their attempts to change the government of Pennsylvania:…, Philadelphia: A. Stewart, 1764. Call number: Rare/AM 1764 Wil.66 984.0.1.

For information on Franklin’s letters:

The American Philosophical Society and Yale University. Digital Edition by the Packard Humanities Institute. http://franklinpapers.org/franklin//

The Papers of Benjamin Franklin Project at Yale University. http://franklinpapers.yale.edu

The National Archives: Founders Online: http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-12-02-0083 [This site is very helpful in interpreting Benjamin Franklin’s letters. It is easily searchable and includes letters written to and from Franklin.]

Other documents:

John Ross to Benjamin Franklin 5/20/1765: http://smithrebellion1765.com/?page_id=393

For information on gout at the time of the letters:

Copland, James, A Dictionary of Practical Medicine, Volume 4  (Longman, Brown, Green:1858)

Memories and Melodies: A Journey through Philadelphia's Musical Legacy

 

Lucas Galante is the winter 2016 Bennington College intern at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP). Tune-in as he explores Philadelphia's music history on Fondly, PA as part of Memories & Melodies, HSP's multi-program series. 


Like any city, the social fabric of Philadelphia interweaves innumerable families, individuals, experiences, and cultural movements throughout more than 300 years. Yet Philadelphia's rich political and cultural past distinguishes it from many other cities, even those of comparable size and reputation. Its historical position as a cornerstone of the United States has given Philadelphia an energy and momentum, a resonance that has manifested in each aspect of the city’s culture in unique ways.

Lesser known than its colonial contributions, a salient feature of Philadelphia’s complex and layered culture is the city’s music. The prominence and national significance of Philadelphia’s songwriters, vocalists, composers, and musicians have reverberated throughout the three centuries of the city’s history.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) holds materials documenting this musical past, revealing the interconnectedness of Philadelphia’s music scene with other elements of the city’s ongoing development and social structuring, and many interesting anecdotes besides.

The recorded history of music in Philadelphia began with the 1694 arrival of Johannes Kelpius and his small group of co-religionists. Kelpius and his followers played music on European instruments and sang original compositions, many of which survive in his personal journals held at HSP.

On the eve of the American Revolution, Philadelphia hosted its first public concert, held at the Freemason’s Lodge. And not so long ago, in the mid 20th century, Philadelphia set the stage for a variety of well-known and well-loved Jazz clubs and musicians. In this as in other cultural contributions, Philadelphia has contributed not only to the cultural experience of its own denizens, but citizens nationwide.

Music’s integral role in Philadelphia’s history (and the role Philadelphia has played in the development of American music) cannot be sung in so few words. For those fascinated by the history of music as it developed alongside the city of Philadelphia, check out this sample of musical resources available at HSP:

Balch Institute Sheet Music Collection (#3141)

 

  • The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies generously donated an abundance of resources to the HSP in 2002. The materials in the Balch collection contain information about a variety of ethnic groups. The Balch Institute Sheet Music Collection contains sheet music that has been produced by these groups, or, in some cases, like the minstrel songs it contains, with stereotypes of these groups in mind. Most of the music is African American, Jewish, Greek, Italian, Irish and Scandinavian.

HSP Collection of Academy of Music Programs, Playbills, and Scrapbooks (#3150)

 

  • This enormous collection contains a variety of materials relating to shows at Philadelphia’s Academy of music, from 1857 to 1972. Organizations represented in the collection include the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphian opera companies and other companies from out-of-state. Not strictly limited to music, this collection also has a variety of interdisciplinary resources, with examples of contemporary visual art styles present in flyers from each time period in the collection, and advertisements for events held at the Academy of Music performance hall, including political rallies and public lectures. See its database listing for a more comprehensive description.

HSP Playbill Collection (#3131)

 

  • The HSP Playbill Collection, approaching the Academy of Music program collection in size, contains 53 feet of playbills and programs from a number of theaters and music halls in Philadelphia, and elsewhere. Though its primary focus is on play performances, the collection contains assorted information and records on musical events from 1754-1989.

HSP Music Collection (#0948)

 

  • The HSP Music collection is a great opportunity to get a comprehensive look at the musical tastes of previous centuries. The collection consists primarily of sheet music from the 19th century, though earlier parts of the 20th century are represented as well. It contains a number of musical programs, too, from the Opera House of Philadelphia and the Robin Hood Dell, scrapbooks, and a large, 7-volume manuscript of “Grand Opera in Philadelphia,” by John Curtis.

Charles Kelly Collection of Orchestra Related Materials (#D0182)

  • The Charles Kelly Collection is small compared to some of HSP’s larger collections, but in contrast to their sometimes daunting expanses, the CKC is a concise gem of a resource. It has mid-20th century programs from the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philadelphia Lyric Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and Carnegie Hall. There are several smaller treats tucked in with these programs: see the database entry to learn more about them.

Miscellaneous Philadelphia Programs and Music Books

  • This small, yet rich collection contains programs dating 1886-1889 for the Academy of Music, the Chestnut street Opera house, a music hall in Norristown, Pennsylvania, the Grand Opera House at Broad Street and Montgomery Avenue and the Chestnut Street Theater. It also has several music books from 1896, and a music book titled “Peace,” which was produced by John Wanamaker to celebrate the end of WWI.

Johannes Kelpius collection of German Hymns (#Am.088)

 

  • This single-volume collection contains a book of hymns authored by the previously-mentioned Johannes Kelpius, and some of his friends. It is just one of the fascinating resources about Johannes Kelpius held by the HSP: his name yields a variety of interesting results in the HSP database, including an portrait of him executed by Christopher Witt, believed to be the oldest oil portrait completed in the New World.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania Theater Poster Collection (#V06)

 

  • This impressive collection contains over 1300 posters for a variety of shows, musical and theatrical, in Philadelphia and elsewhere from mid-to-late-19th century, with a few from the early 20th. The types of shows advertised are minstrel, wild west, operas, burlesques, comedies, circuses and plays: but there are others, too. It is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to visually represent American entertainment culture from this era.

Water Marks Found in the Bank of North America Collection, II

In my previous blog post, I introduced the watermarks of several English papermakers and their forgers. In this post, I would like to share some of the watermarks of the pioneers of American paper manufacturing found in ledgers from the Bank of North America collection.

The earliest American paper mills were established in the 1690s near Germantown, Pennsylvania by William Rittenhouse -- a German who emigrated from Holland where his family might have been engaged in papermaking. Most of the early mills in colonial America were started by immigrant papermakers who modeled their mills after those in Europe. These mills required a constant supply of fresh water to wash fibers and also to turn the beating machine, as well as a reliable supply of rags, the main raw material at that time. Pennsylvania, with its city of Philadelphia as the epicenter of American literacy, was the ideal place for paper mills with a high population that could supply enough rags and a sufficient flow of water from the creeks and rivers around the city.

One thing that I could not just pass over during my short research was the name Nathan Sellers who was a mould maker in Pennsylvania. He used his wire drawing skill to manufacture paper moulds. Nathan Sellers supplied moulds for hundreds of American papermakers around 1776 to 1820.  According to Thomas L. Gravell and George Miller in A Catalog of American Watermarks, 1690 – 1835, “Although William and Nicholas Rittenhouse were making paper as early as 1690, it was not until 1775 that American-made paper of fine quality began to be widely produced and used. It was only when the supply of foreign paper was cut off with the passage of non-importation agreements following the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767 that the industry really began to develop in this country. Its growth was greatly promoted by a single man – Nathan Sellers. . .  Paper was in extremely short supply during the Revolution; the war meant that foreign supplies of paper and paper moulds were virtually cut off. . . Although [Sellers] was called into military service in 1776, a special petition was presented to and passed by Congress on August 26 to order him home 'to make and prepare suitable moulds, washers & utensils for carrying on the paper manufactory.'”

Nathan Sellers kept a journal with elaborate records of his mould making and his association with many paper makers which have been a great resource for historians to learn about watermarks, papermakers and mills, etc.  He recorded which mill or manufacturer ordered which pattern of watermarks in each specific year or duration besides the dimension and wood type that he used for the mould. For example, Thomas L. Gravell and George Miller often referenced Nathan Seller’s journal in A Catalog of American Watermarks, 1690 – 1835, published in 1979, which contains many image samples of watermarks that can be found in the BNA collection.

Based on what the watermarks indicate, most of the papers used for the ledgers in the Bank of North America collection were from local paper mills, except those English papers. (Although papers with English watermarks had also been produced in America because of the popularity of English papers, the moulds from England were frequently imported with their watermarks intact.)  Although there have been hundreds of mills located near Philadelphia, the world of the papermaking industry seemed to be small. Many paper makers had been somehow connected or engaged to each other as business partners or an employee/employer, a lender/leaser or a seller/purchaser of the mills or the properties, or family relations.  

These watermarks, ‘MW’ and the “Post horn,” possibly belong to Mark Willcox (1744 ~ 1827) the son of Thomas M. Willcox from Ivy Mill (1729 ~ 1866) in Aston, Concord Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Thomas Willcox, originally from England, started a paper mill in 1729 with Thomas Brown and formed a partnership to operate the mill. Thomas Willcox is known to have made some paper for Benjamin Franklin and for colonial currency. His son Mark Willcox took over operation of the mill by 1767 and inherited it after his father’s death. The name Ivy Mill was adopted around 1828 while the mill was under the management of James M. one of Mark Willcox’s grandsons. 

Watermarks of Mark Willcox

 

Although we couldn’t find many of his watermarks in the BNA ledgers, Mark Willcox is a significant name for the collection. He made the paper for the first issued bank note of the National Bank of North America. Below is the sample of the original paper used for bank currency and the receipt of order issued in 1781 can be found in the BNA’s Extra Illustrated volume

 

The ‘Dove bearing an olive branch’ and ‘AMIES PHILAD’ are known as the watermarks of Thomas Amies (d 1849), who started and operated Dove Mill at Mill Creek, Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The mill started from 1798 and was named “Dove Mill” because of the dove and olive branch watermark that Amies used. It is unknown when Amies started papermaking and under whom he learned the papermaking trade.  The fact that the dove watermark was also used by Willcox at Ivy Mill supports the theory that Amies had once worked for Ivy mill as a superintendent and probably learned his trade from Willcox.  This possibility is explored by Historian Lyman Horace Weeks in his book History of Paper-manufacturing in the United States, 1690-1916. As a renowned supplier of quality printing paper in Philadelphia, Amies manufactured paper for the Second Bank of the United States and in 1817 he produced paper for a special printing of the Declaration of Independence.

Watermarks of Thomas Amies

 

The ‘R AMIES & Co’ and ‘Lamb’ watermarks below indicate that the papers were made by Richard Amies, assumed to be one of Thomas Amies’ sons from Dove Mill. Richard Amies worked at or managed Dove Mill in 1834. According to John Bidwell, in his book American Paper Mills, 1690-1832, “Although Richard Amies adopted ‘Dove’ water mark associated with the family mill, he also used ‘Lamb’ water mark which suggests that he might have been associated with ‘William Amies & Company’ in the Lamb Mill.”

Watermarks of Richard Amies

 

These watermarks were used by Gilpin Paper Mill on Brandywine. Gilpin Mill is the first paper mill in Delaware established by two brothers, Joshua Gilpin and Thomas Gilpin in 1787. From A Catalogue of American Watermarks, 1690 – 1835, by Thomas L. Gravell, George Miller, Garland Publishing, Inc. 1979 “They purchased moulds from Nathan Sellers for the first in November 1788. They were watermarked “J GILPIN & CO” with “BRANDYWINE” underneath. They regularly purchased moulds from Sellers until 1802. After 1800, Joshua’s initials are replaced by Thomas’s and after 1805, the “J G &CO” watermark no longer appears.” 

Joshua Gilpin traveled to Europe in1795 and in 1811 to visit factories and papermakers and he acquired information for his brother to build America’s first machine that produced paper in an endless roll. By inventing and patenting this machine in 1816, Thomas Gilpin revolutionized the paper industry.

Gilpin’s mills were severely damaged by a flood in 1822 and then a massive fire in 1825. In 1837, there was a second flood which halted production and the mill was sold. 

Watermarks of Joshua Gilpin and Thomas Gilpin

 

The “FB” in this watermark might be the initial of Frederick Bicking.  From  A Catalogue of American Watermarks, 1690 – 1835, “Frederick Bicking first ordered a mould from Nathan Sellers in Feb. 1783. On March 28 1783, He ordered a mould watermarked “F B”.” He is a native of Germany and might have learned the paper trade from William Rittenhouse. In 1762, he bought property for a mill of his own in Mill Creek, in Lower Merion Township.  Three of his sons were also papermakers and established their own mills. Frederick Jr., the one who worked with his father, inherited Frederick Bicking’s original mill at his father’s death in 1809. This mill was apparently sold in the 1830’s. 

Watermark of Frederick Bicking

 

These watermarks “I B” and the "bell" might belong to John Bicking, one of Frederick Bicking’s sons, who established his own mill on Beaver creek, East Caln Township (now East Brandywine). His first mould order from Nathan Sellers in 1804, was watermarked “I BICKING”. His mill was inherited by his son John and produced paper until 1822. His other watermarks were known to be “I B”, “bell with handle” and “post horn”.

 Watermarks of John Bicking

 

The Levis family had built and operated paper mills for about five generations. They had used watermarks such as “S L”, “S &WL”, “SPRING HILL”, and “W L” as well as images of “post horn”, “eagle” and this image below. Each watermark might have belonged to different family members. Samuel Levis III was the first person (or generation) known to establish paper mills in Levis family. It is not clear how many mills he established but the Tuscarora mill and Glenwood mills and Lamb mills on Darby Creek in Upper Darby Township were among those which had been established before or during the Revolutionary War and were passed down to his descendents.

More information can be found in American Paper Mills, 1690 – 1832, by John Bidwell.

Watermarks of Samuel Levis 

 

Here are some of very beautiful watermarks from BNA collection about which I haven't  been able to find any information.  Many manufacturers have been known to use very similar types of watermarks, which makes positive identification understandably difficult.

These are only a few examples of American watermarks that I have collected but there are many more watermarks in the BNA collection which have yet to be identified and can offer further insight into their history.


 
8/23/16
Author: Hali Han

This has been my summer for first encounters.

Topics : Ethnic history
Comments: 0

5/13/16
Author: Cary Hutto

The following article is being posted on behalf of Tim Dewysockie, former intern of the archives department. Our thanks go out to him for the work that he completed on this important historical collection. --CH
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Comments: 0

4/7/16
Author: Anonymous

The second in a new series, the following article was written by HSP Digital Services Intern Mark Carnesi and is being posted on his behalf. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as Mark continues his look at the George A. Foreman scrapbook collection. Read part one here.

Comments: 0

3/17/16
Author: Cary Hutto

If you didn't know it already, HSP has a growing collection of books on historic cooking and the culinary arts! Here's a rundown of some books that were recently added to the library's collection. Click on the links for more information on each title from our online catalog Discover.

Comments: 0

3/16/16
Author: Vincent Fraley

The first in a series, the following article was written by HSP Digital Services Intern Mark Carnesi and is being posted on his behalf. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as Mark continues his look at the George A. Foreman scrapbook collection. 

Comments: 2

2/21/16
Author: Vincent Fraley

Often thought of as the last bastions of hush, libraries are louder than one might have heard. So tune in and listen closely to Philadelphia's 300-plus-year musical legacy.

Forsaking it in their religious services and sneering at it in their private lives, the Quaker founders of Philadelphia were a decidedly unmusical bunch. Fortunately for future ears, other religious and ethnic groups were counted among the city's early settlers, many with active musical traditions - and instruments - in tow.

Comments: 0

2/10/16
Author: Megan Evans

The following article was written by HSP volunteer Randi Kamine and is being posted on her behalf. Many thanks to Archival Processor Megan Evans for helping prepare these articles for publication. To read the first part of this article, please click here or on the article's title in the right sidebar.

Almost two years later, in a letter dated April 11, 1767, Benjamin Franklin was still writing to John Ross about the “Change of Government in the Proprietary Colonies.” Things were not going well. Franklin found sympathy for the cause from men “of Weight,” but with controversies concerning British rule occurring in New York and Boston, “nothing is so little interesting to them as our Application” to go forward. In fact, although by 1763 several colonies surrendered their charters and became royal colonies, Pennsylvania remained a proprietary colony until the American Revolution.

Comments: 0

2/3/16
Author: Megan Evans

The following article was written by HSP volunteer Randi Kamine and is being posted on her behalf. Many thanks to Archival Processor Megan Evans for helping prepare these articles for publication.

One of the interesting things about processing a collection at HSP is that one never knows when a significant document might unexpectedly show up. For instance, four letters in Benjamin Franklin’s hand were brought to light when a finding aid was recently written for the Read family letters (Collection 0537). All four were written to John Ross, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer and frequent correspondent of Franklin’s. Ross was half-sister to Gertrude Ross Read, the wife of George Read of this collection who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Ross and Franklin had a political relationship as well as a friendship. Both were active in the politics of the time, especially in the rivalry between the Quaker and Proprietary parties that were fighting for control of the Pennsylvania assembly. Both Ross and Franklin were in support of the Quaker party and in opposition to the Proprietary party.

Comments: 0

1/19/16
Author: Lucas Galante

 

Lucas Galante is the winter 2016 Bennington College intern at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP). Tune-in as he explores Philadelphia's music history on Fondly, PA as part of Memories & Melodies, HSP's multi-program series. 

Comments: 0

1/14/16
Author: Sun Young Kang

In my previous blog post, I introduced the watermarks of several English papermakers and their forgers. In this post, I would like to share some of the watermarks of the pioneers of American paper manufacturing found in ledgers from the Bank of North America collection.

Comments: 2