Francis James Dallett papers

Francis James Dallett (1927- ), an archivist, genealogist, writer, and descendent of an old Philadelphia French family, researched the history of the French in Philadelphia. He was especially interested in the founding and early years of the French Benevolent Society, an organization that was f...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Dallett, Francis J. 1927- (Creator)
Collection:Francis James Dallett Papers
Collection Number:3046
Format: Manuscript
Language:French
Subjects and Genres:
Online Access:Link to finding aid
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Item Description: Materials Separated from the Resource: Flick, L. The French Refugee Trappists in the United States. Philadelphia: Press of D.J. Gallagher, 1886 Rosengarten, J. The Early French Members of the American Philosophical Society. Philadelphia: Reprinted from the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1907 Stillé, A. War as an Instrument of Civilization: An Address Before the Society of the Alumni of the University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Collins, 1862
Physical Description: 12.25 Linear feet 23 boxes, 1 flat file
Access: The collection is open for research.
Summary: Francis James Dallett (1927- ), an archivist, genealogist, writer, and descendent of an old Philadelphia French family, researched the history of the French in Philadelphia. He was especially interested in the founding and early years of the French Benevolent Society, an organization that was founded in 1793 with the mission of serving indigents and providing student scholarships to local Philadelphians of French descent. Dallett served for many years as an officer and director of this organization. He also collected ephemera regarding French-related activities and events, as well as documentation of French heritage in America. The collection consists of Dallett’s genealogical research notes and photocopies of articles, papers, selections from books, and newspaper clippings with references to Philadelphia French families. There are invitations and programs for French-related events, a few articles written by Dallett, a small amount of correspondence, and records of The French Benevolent Society. In addition, the collection contains photographs, negatives, and a large collection of other images and iconography, numbering approximately 330 images.
This collection reflects Dallett’s interest in all things French and his skill in genealogical research. The papers have been organized into six series, as follows: Philadelphia French Families, Working Files, French Benevolent Society, Writings and Correspondence, Background Files, and Photographs and Iconography. A large percentage of the materials consist of research notes on small scraps of paper which focus on various individuals and families, and are present throughout most of the collection. There are few organized family trees. The collection’s strength lies in its largely raw data on families, rather than on the individual level. The heart of the collection is in Series 1 and 2, both of which contain Dallett’s genealogical research notes on the Philadelphia French, organized alphabetically by family. The two series are separate as the second represents works in progress that, had the book project been completed, would ultimately have been included in series 1 on Philadelphia French families. In addition to notes, some files contain photocopies or transcripts of letters and legal documents, as well as photocopies of articles or pages of books with references to a particular family. Some files also include correspondence with French archives, or between Dallett and other genealogists with interest in a particular family’s history. Because many of these families are interconnected, files for one family may contain references to many other families. Some papers are in French, and a few are in Spanish, but most are in English. The French Benevolent Society series contains articles of incorporation, bylaws, annual reports from 1958 through 1986, some financial records, and correspondence that supplements older records of the society, which are also at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. There are also photocopies of many early FBS documents. Researchers primarily interested in the French Benevolent Society are advised to view that collection, cited in the related materials section of this finding aid. The Writings and Correspondence series consists of four articles written by Dallett and correspondence that was found in general correspondence folders. The articles are only a few of the many written by Dallett; several others are in HSP’s library. Likewise, the correspondence in this series is only a small portion of the correspondence in the collection. Most of the correspondence is filed with the relevant family papers, which is in keeping with the original order of the collection. The oldest items in the collection are a fashion catalog from 1853 and an issue of a French-language newspaper from 1854. These papers are part of the Background Files series and are not related to a particular family. This series contains original documents such as invitations to French-oriented events, programs for French lectures and plays, papers related to French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s visit to Philadelphia in 1976, and French activities at the University of Pennsylvania. It also includes photocopies of many articles about the French, and especially, the French in America and Philadelphia. Many of the photocopies have annotations or have been underlined. The Photographs and Iconography series contains a number of photographic prints and negatives, many of which are images of documents held in the National Archives of France. In addition, this series contains two scrapbooks of photographic images, negatives, drawings, and printed images, which were maintained in their original order, and re-housed in one archival photograph album.