Willits Trust records
Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Charles Leeds Willits (August 16, 1814 - November 4, 1883) was a Quaker farmer from New Jersey. He left $10,000 in his will to the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and created the Willits Trust for the purpose of distributing religious tracts and writings to "the Colored people of the Southern States of the U.S. and the remainder in the colony of Liberia so that religion and morality may be promoted." The Willits Trust produced and circulated a journal titled The African's Friend for several decades, starting in 1885. The early trustees were John Bishop, Joseph S. Elkinton, William Evans, Edward Sharpless, Ephraim Smith, Charles Rhoads, and Jonathan E. Rhoads. William C. Cowperthwaite, William B. Harvey, David Heston, and Heulings Lippincott were also involved with the operation of the Trust. The Trust distributed The African's Friend through churches and schools in the southern U.S. and partnered with Protestant Missionaries in Africa in order to distribute in Liberia.
The Willits Trust records consist of correspondence, minutes, financial records, missionary materials, the will of Charles L. Willits, and miscellaneous items. Most of the correspondence relates to the distribution and reception of The African's Friend journal and the settlement of the Charles L. Willits will. The miscellaneous items include a photograph, a rubber stamp for The African's Friend, the key to the Willits Trust box which originally housed these materials, and a 1908 list of the Willits Trust box contents.
- Correspondence (ca. 650 items): letters alphabetized by last name, ca. 1885-1912
- Highlights include: letters from Joseph Crane Hartzell (American Missionary Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church), William H. Heard (U.S. Ambassador to Liberia and clergyman of African Methodist Episcopal Church), and A.E. Johnson (19th century African-American writer).
- Financial Records (ca. 250 items) including: checkbook of Willits Trust treasurer; cancelled checks, ca. 1885-1894; bills and receipts, ca. 1885-1913
- Will of Charles L. Willits and related correspondence (ca. 35 items) including: 1912 certified copy of Charles L. Willits will, 1883
- Related correspondence (ca. 1885-1912) including: letters from Samuel A. Willits (nephew of Charles L. Willits and owner of a lumber, coal, and hardware company in NJ) and Huelings Lippincott (a Quaker and President of the National State Bank of Camden, NJ).
- Minutes of the Willits Trust (ca. 35 items), including: 1 notebook; loose papers, ca. 1885-1896
- Foreign missionary materials (4 items) including: July 1906 Appleton's magazine featuring an article about missionaries in Liberia; 86th annual report of the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the year 1904; Reports Foreign Section - The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church (1904); and a 1909 newspaper clipping, ca. 1900-1910
- Items relating to Willits Trust Box (3 items) including: rubber stamp for The African's Friend; key to the Willits Trust tin box which originally housed these materials; and a 1908 list of the Willits Trust box contents
- 1 photograph mounted on cardboard backing titled "Moore St. Industrial Institution, Richmond, VA, 1886", 1886
This collection is arranged in the following series: Correspondence, Photograph, Miscellaneous, Financial Records, Missionary Materials, Will, Minutes, Addition
Processed by Christopher Michael; completed June, 2013.
- Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- Christopher Michael
- Finding Aid Date
- June, 2013
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).
ca. 700 items
Correspondence of Willits Trust relating to The African's Friend and the will of Charles L. Willits. ca. 1885-1912.
Photograph mounted on cardboard backing titled "Moore St. Industrial Institution, Richmond, VA, 1886", 1886.
Miscellaneous materials of the Willits Trust include a rubber stamp for The African's Friend, the key to the Willits Trust box which originally housed these materials, and a 1908 list of the Willits Trust box contents. ca. 1885-1915.
ca. 250 items
Financial records of the Willits Trust include a checkbook, cancelled checks, bills, and receipts mostly related to the shipping/postage of The African's Friend. ca. 1885-1913.
Missionary materials of the Willits Trust include a newspaper clipping, an article in Appleton's magazine about missionaries in Liberia, and missionary reports of the Episcopal Church. ca. 1900-1910.
The Will of Charles L. Willits. 1883
ca. 35 items
Minutes of the Willits Trust, in notebook and loose papers. ca. 1885-1896.
Includes information abou the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Willits Bequest