Dr. and Mrs. Henry Drinker collection of miscellaneous family papers

The miscellaneous materials in the Dr. and Mrs. Henry Drinker Collection, dating from the late seventeenth century to the mid twentieth century, document the personal as well as some financial affairs of several prominent Philadelphia families, most notably the Fisher family. Genealogical reports c...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Authors: Drinker, Henry. (Creator), Drinker, Marilyn. (Creator)
Collection:Dr. and Mrs. Henry Drinker Collection of Miscellaneous Family Papers
Collection Number:3125
Format: Manuscript
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Online Access:Link to finding aid
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Item Description: Materials Separated from the Resource: To HSP library: Moore, Frank, ed. The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, 1860-62. Part XIV. New York: G.P. Putnam, 1862. (Call number to be determined.) Middleton family papers on microfilm (negative). (Call number to be determined.) To Middleton Place: Middleton family papers to Middleton Place, Charleston, S.C. HSP also sent a positive microfilmed copy of the papers. HSP retained the negative copy.
Physical Description: 4.5 Linear feet 18 boxes
Summary: The miscellaneous materials in the Dr. and Mrs. Henry Drinker Collection, dating from the late seventeenth century to the mid twentieth century, document the personal as well as some financial affairs of several prominent Philadelphia families, most notably the Fisher family. Genealogical reports containing several family members highlighted in this collection are available in Appendix 1 starting on page 14. The collection includes mostly correspondence alongside photographs and items that provide genealogical, estate, and business information. While some letters discuss public affairs explicitly, many family letters also indirectly reflect of the political, economic, and social events of the time while providing insight into family structure, religious beliefs, and eighteenth- through twentieth-century Philadelphia culture. Letters provide commentary and first-hand accounts relating to major events in U.S. history, including the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, and the Korean War. The papers in this collection were originally arranged—for the most part—according to family surname Fisher, Francis, Willing, Drinker, and Wharton. This arrangement has been maintained. The following are brief box-level descriptions of some of the materials in the collection. Boxes 1 to 3 contain papers from the Fisher family that date from the late seventeenth to the late nineteenth century. These are predominantly correspondence; other materials include family estate, business, and financial papers as well as items that provide information on Fisher family genealogy. Joshua Francis Fisher is primarily represented in the materials, which include correspondence between Joshua and family members, friends, and business associates. The letters to his wife, Elizabeth Izard Middleton, written on the eve of the Civil War are particularly poignant. A significant amount of correspondence between Joshua and his cousin, Rhode Island senator and governor John Brown Francis (1791-1864), is also included. A majority of these letters, written during the Civil War, reveal information about Joshua’s views on political, economic, and social issues, including his views on slavery. Fisher’s other papers include compositions, essays, addresses, papers, and presentations, some of which appear to be school related. The compositions mostly focus on Pennsylvania and American history, the Episcopal Church, politics, and education. Also included are two handwritten chapters (circa 1864) of Fisher’s memoirs. These memoirs were later edited by Fisher’s granddaughter Sophia Cadwalader and published in 1929 as The Recollections of Joshua Francis Fisher. There are also items relating to Joshua Francis Fisher’s estate and business matters. Concerning Fisher’s estate are papers relating to the dispute between Fisher and his uncle, William Logan Fisher, over the former’s inheritance, including a nine-page statement by Fisher (1829). The dispute resulted from Fisher feeling wronged by his uncle regarding an inheritance that he was to receive once he became an adult. Several other family members are also represented in Fisher’s papers, including the originator of the Fisher family in the Philadelphia region, John Fisher, and his son Thomas Fisher; Samuel Rowland Fisher (1745-1834), son of Joshua Fisher and Sarah Rowland; Elizabeth Powel Francis Fisher (b. 1777); Elizabeth Izard Middleton Fisher (1815-1890); and lastly, Henry Middleton Fisher (1851-1939). The earliest items among these papers are miscellaneous legal documents relating to John Fisher and his son Thomas Fisher, including jury summons against both men, as well as legal documents relating to Pennsylvania and Sussex County, Delaware, where the Fisher family initially resided. One notable item includes Samuel Rowland Fisher’s handwritten account (circa 1780) of his arrest in 1779 on the charge of being a Tory. Like many other Quakers, the Fishers took a neutral position during the Revolution. The refusal of many Quakers to support the war resulted in hostile treatment. Items relating to Elizabeth Powel Francis, Elizabeth Izard Middleton, and Henry Middleton Fisher are mostly family correspondence. Letters from Elizabeth Middleton to her husband, Joshua, written from South Carolina while on trips visiting her family, reveal much about the Middleton family and life in general amongst the upper classes in the antebellum South. Henry’s letters sent home to family members provide much information on the social and educational life of a young man away at school in New England. In Box 4 are materials relating to the Willing and Francis families that date from the mid eighteenth to late nineteenth century, and include correspondence, genealogical information, and estate papers. Most of the family letters are between Anne Willing and several family members, including her uncle Thomas Willing in England, and her brother Thomas Willing (1731-1821), who served as president of the Bank of North America, justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and mayor of Philadelphia. Many of these letters are transcribed in Joshua Francis Fisher’s memoirs The Recollections of Joshua Francis Fisher (1929). Other than the discussion of personal matters, there is also news regarding the French and Indian War. There are also letters between Anne and her children as well as her husband, Tench Francis Jr. Other papers relating to Anne Willing Francis include recipes and household advice. Also included in this series is correspondence relating to Tench Francis Sr., Pennsylvania attorney general from 1741 to 1754, and his wife as well as correspondence and other items relating to the children of Tench and Anne Willing Francis, in particular Sophia Francis Harrison and Charles Francis. There is also a copy of a report on the Meschianza, the elaborate celebration given in honor of British General Sir William Howe in Philadelphia on May 18, 1778 before his return to England, as well as a collection of letters from Levett Harris to John Forsyth, who served as secretary of state from 1834 to 1841, regarding relations with France. Box 5 contains papers, including some genealogical information, from the Drinker and Wharton families dating from the late nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. Most of the materials relate to James Blathwaite Drinker (1882-1971), his wife Mary Frances Fisher (1896-1974), and their children. A significant amount of correspondence relates to James and Mary’s son, Sandwith Drinker (1922-1945), who was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in March 1945. Most of the letters from Sandwith Drinker to his mother were written while Sandwith was away at school. The box also contains literary manuscripts related to the Wharton family. These include numerous drafts, typescripts, and printed copies from Lippincott’s Magazine of works by Phoebe Lyde, most likely the pseudonym used by Frances Brinley Wharton. Also included is an 80-page typescript of “Francois Villon: A romantic drama in four acts with songs” (1894) co-written by Thomas Wharton and Owen Wister. The manuscript contains some handwritten edits. There are also some miscellaneous materials relating to Cecilia Beaux, most of which are newspaper clippings, dating from 1906 to 1908, concerning exhibitions with which the artist was involved. Box 6 contains correspondence and photographs relating to Francis Brinley Wharton (1861-1959). The bulk of these letters dates from the early to mid- twentieth century and includes numerous letters from friends and family members who served during the Second World War and the Korean War. Box 7 contains two rolled multi-paged, deeds of partition for the Henry Drinker estate drafted in 1843. The remaining boxes in the collection, Boxes 8 through 17, contain nineteenth-century daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and silhouettes of various members of the Francis, Harrison, and Fisher families. The five daguerreotypes included are possibly those of Joshua Francis Fisher and his family. Ten of these items are not labeled. Also included is an encased medal belonging to Henry Middleton Fisher.
This collection contains an assortment of miscellaneous materials predominantly relating to the Fisher family of Philadelphia and several related local families, including the Willings, Francises, Drinkers, and Whartons. To a lesser extent, the Middleton, Logan, and Harrison families are also represented. The families documented in this collection are some of the oldest and most prominent families in the Delaware Valley. Items in the collection date from 1682 to 1971 with the majority of the materials dating from the period 1750 to 1956. The bulk of the collection consists of family correspondence; also included are genealogical papers, estate and business records, as well as family photographs.