John Fanning Watson collection on the cultural, social, and economic development of Pennsylvania

These papers of a Philadelphia historian contain information on the cultural, social, and economic development of Pennsylvania. Included are autograph letters, sketches, pictures of historic landmarks, drafts, portraits of eminent men, and newspaper clippings. The collection consists of 15 volumes h...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Watson, John Fanning 1779-1860 (Creator)
Collection:John Fanning Watson Collection On the Cultural, Social, and Economic Development of Pennsylvania
Collection Number:0697
Format: Manuscript
Language:English
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Physical Description: 1.5 Linear feet 6 boxes
Access: The collection is open for research.
Summary: These papers of a Philadelphia historian contain information on the cultural, social, and economic development of Pennsylvania. Included are autograph letters, sketches, pictures of historic landmarks, drafts, portraits of eminent men, and newspaper clippings. The collection consists of 15 volumes housed in 6 boxes, in no particular order. Five of the volumes concentrate on Philadelphia. The “Annals of Philadelphia” was written in 1829 and is divided into two separate volumes. Two more volumes serve as supplemental sources to the annals. Whereas one of the supplements has been bound in a book, the other consists of papers divided into three folders within the volume. The last volume is the “Philadelphia Views,” a book that contains scenes from throughout the city and serves as another supplement to the annals. Other areas in Pennsylvania to where Watson had been were the cities of Tinicum and Graeme Parks, as well as the Philadelphia neighborhood of Germantown, which have been reflected in two additional volumes. Whereas the first two documented visits are being kept as separate items in a single volume, the latter provides a more detailed study of the area. He had also visited Chester, Valley Forge, Camp Hills, and Delaware and Chesapeake Canal, briefly detailed after Lucy Watson’s “Account of New Settlers in the American Woods,” all of which are written in a small, single volume. Another account included in the collection is “the first settlement of the Townships of Buckingham and Solebury in Bucks County,” which is a small volume of its own. Three of the volumes are miscellaneous tidbits of historical information. Dating from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, the first two concentrate more on Germantown and Roxborough while the third covers a wider variety of topics. The remaining three volumes seem to be more personal in comparison. Whereas the “Letters and Communications” were obviously written by his associates addressing to him, the other two were authored by Watson himself. “The Workings of Covetousness” appear to be personal reflections. Though the “French Exercises” were written purely for the purpose of practicing his foreign languages skills, a portion of the material did seem to make some sort of a reference to New Orleans, which could indicate a visit that he was recollecting.
John Fanning Watson (1779-1860) was a businessman and treasurer by profession but a historian by hobby, for which he gained much greater attention. He kept vacation journals to help him escape the stifling environment of the banking world, and eventually was inspired to create the “Annals of Philadelphia.” The collection consists of his essays, letters, sketches, pictures, drafts, portraits, and newspaper clippings. These encompass his observations of Philadelphia as the city developed over the years, accounts of the places where he visited, historical notes on miscellaneous topics (especially Germantown and Roxborough), French exercises, personal reflections, and incoming correspondence.