Answer: Upholstery, primarily, along with interior decorating and cabinet making
Warley Bascom (died 1909) was a mattress-maker and freeman from Charleston, South Carolina. He opened a business there prior to the start of the Civil War. In 1859 his son, Warley Bascom II, moved to Philadelphia to prepare a place for the family. In 1861, the entire family arrived in Philadelphia and their business here began. They specialized in general upholstering, interior decorations, and cabinet work. The business remained in Philadelphia and was run by the Bascom family until the 1970s. For a time, Warley Bascom and Sons was the oldest operating business in Philadelphia run by free African Americans.
Warley Bascom married Sophia Bonheur, and the couple had two daughters and nine sons. When the family first came to Philadelphia, they resided at 927 Bainbridge Street, but they later moved to 735 South 11th Street. As for their business, it was first located at 8th and Spruce streets, then 8th and Orange (now Manning) streets, where it remained until 1909. That year the business moved to 247 South 10th Street. There it became a local business fixture until the time it closed.
HSP possesses two small collections of the Bascom family. The first is a collection of mostly business volumes and papers with scattered personal material, Warley Bascom Sons business records (#2033). The second collection is a single ledger, Warley Bascom Sons ledger (#SC042), that dates from 1903 to 1910. It shows customers' accounts and includes an index listing customers alphabetically by name.