Jacob R. Elfreth Sr. diaries
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
The Elfreth family was a notable Philadelphia Quaker family during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Jacob R. Elfreth Sr. (1789-1870) was initially apprenticed to enter into the hardware trade. Elfreth Sr. left the trade to become a teacher, first in New Jersey, and later at the Westtown School. He later became a bookkeeper for the Leigh Navigation Company, which was his occupation until he retired. Elfreth Sr. married Abigail Pierce in 1821, and the couple had ten children.
This collection is composed of 45 handwritten, bound volumes of the diaries of Jacob R. Elfreth Sr. The majority of entries detail family news, Quaker meetings, Elfreth's work with the Leigh Navigation Company, and births, deaths, and marriages within the Quaker community.
Diaries from 1860 to 1866 include entries and newspaper clippings that discuss issues related to the American Civil War, including slavery, movements of the Union and Confederate troops, battles between the two, and issues of reconstruction towards the end of the period.
Processed by Kara Flynn; completed June, 2015.
- Society of Friends -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- History -- Sources
- Quakers -- History
- Quakers -- Diaries
- Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- Kara Flynn
- Finding Aid Date
- June, 2015
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).
Practical geometry, expenses at Westtown school, expenses at Haddonfield, NJ, & Philadelphia.
Entries by topic/event; "Eclipse of the Sun," "Return from the Country," "Hospital for the Insane Poor," expenses, pages of pasted in clippings related to Historical Society and Public Education.
Signed check inside. This volume includes two lists compiled by Elfreth Sr: "List of Friends who went on Religious Visits from America to Europe, 1693-1835" and "List of some of the Friends who have visited America from Europe in the service of Truth in the following years" (1656-1837).
Cholera arrives in Philadelphia from Asia/Europe, Elfreth records reports of outbreak from Board of Health.
Includes clippings on topics including "Tobacco,""Uncle Tom's Cabin Sales," and "Fugitive Slaves."
Clipping topics include: "money Market" in Philadelphia, "Mormonism," and the "Magnetic telegraph."
Newspaper clippings about; "Arrest of a Runaway Girl in Male Attire," "Foreign news," -Japan, China, England & France declare war on Russia.
Discussions of Wilberism and its supporters, including blaming one woman's insanity on Wilberism.
Records Scarlet Fever outbreak, deaths in Philadelphia as a result of outbreak.
Wars in Europe.
Includes a list of secessions of southern states with the dates of secession on the inside cover. Newspaper clippings and diary entries relate to the secession of South Carolina, and the election of Abraham Lincoln as president.
This volume includes newspaper clippings and entries about the beginning of the Civil War and slavery. Elfreth describes the city of Philadelphia's reaction to the early days of the civial war, including crowds gathering in the streets, and notes "military companies being formed and marching about the streets." Additional materials in this volume include correspondence, and two prints; "Which is the Mother" engraved by A.H. Ritchie, and "Tower Rock on the Mississippi" by Smillie and Hinshelwood.
Newspaper clippings related to slavery.
Newspaper clippings and entries related to the Civil War in general, as well as specific battles, and slavery.
Newspaper clippings and entries related to the cost of war and its impact on cities in both the North and South. Entries in July discuss the invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Entries related to successes of the "U.S> military" against the "rebels" and concern about the state of freedmen and women after the war end.
Includes a list of "Governors of the Confedorate or Rebel States, 1865" on the inside cover.
Elfreth expresses anxiety about what will happen to his family when he can no longer provide for them.
Newspaper clippings related to Cholera outbreaks in major U.S. cities.
Entries discuss Elfreth's failing health as he ages, including; diminished eyesight, chest pain, headaches, and forgetfulness.
This volume includes entries about a measeles outbreak in May 1835, various pieces of family news, a description of the Seminole War (January 1836), and the Texas-Mexico War in 1836. Elfreth provides an account of the Pennsylvania Hall riots beginning on page 96, which covers about 11 pages and includes two sections of quotations from newspaper articles about the riots.