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Ferdinand J. Dreer autograph collection, 1492-1925 (Collection 0175)
Ferdinand Julian Dreer’s chief hobby was collecting autographs. He started with two documents and over time he was able to amass more than 15,000 items from some of the world’s most prominent and intriguing public figures. Owing to this interest, Dreer became acquainted with many people in the world of arts and letters, politics, education, clergy, business, and international affairs. As he was aware of such a collection’s potential impact on scholarship and society, Dreer donated all of his holdings to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, with which he had been associated for many years as the institution’s vice president.
George S. Broadbent diaries, 1861-1898 (Collection 3595)
George Subers Broadbent (b. 1839) was a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church in several Pennsylvania towns and cities. The diaries detail his work as a preacher and Sunday school teacher, family life, and finances. The first volume is a recording of the events in his and his siblings’ early lives in Montgomery, Berks and other Pennsylvania counties. While this volume begins with a discussion of the events that occurred in 1852, it is actually dated in 1861 which most likely indicates that the volume is a retelling (or reflection) of those experiences.
Thomas Cole Wright diaries, 1850-1864 (Collection 3576)
Thomas Cole Wright was a young glove and hosiery shopkeeper in Philadelphia. The diaries trace his courtship and marriage to Emma Butler, the birth of their daughter, the death of both daughter and mother in close succession, his remarriage several years later, his service in the Pennsylvania militia during the Civil War, and the decline of his health which eventually led to his death in November 1864. Entries also discuss the weather, his glove shop, church attendance, purchases, social activities, and charitable contributions. There are seven volumes, with entries for approximately 2,500 days, plus about 100 pages of miscellaneous loose papers.
James Grier Ralston papers, 1833-1881 (Collection 3153)
For a greater portion of his life, James Grier Ralston (1815-1880) was an educator and very much concerned with the religious/spiritual life of his pupils. His interests in religious affairs and education led to the founding of a seminary for women and missionary activities in Wisconsin. Privy to the needs of his community, he gave considerably of his time to community affairs in Norristown, for which he was most honored and respected. Ralston was also a mineralist and collector. This collection consists of four volumes that contain Ralston’s notes about religion, natural sciences, a trip to Europe, and his activities as a student and teacher, as well as news clippings related to his death.
Conrad Weiser papers, 1741-1783 (Collection 0700)
This collection contains the papers of Conrad Weiser (November 2, 1696 – July 13, 1760), a German immigrant who settled in Pennsylvania and became an Indian affairs agent and lieutenant colonel for the British forces in the French and Indian War. Weiser was responsible for negotiating many treaties with the Iroquois which transfered land ownership from the Native Americans to the colony of Pennsylvania and ensured the support of the Iroquois for the British during the war. His papers consist of correspondence, financial records, muster rolls, legal documents, and a bound ledger.