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Jacob R. Elfreth Jr. 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

Jacob R. Elfreth Jr. (1837-1924), the son of Jacob R. Elfreth Sr. and Abigail Pierce Elfreth, was born on October 22, 1837, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a Quaker merchant, elder, and minister. Initially apprenticed for five years to J.R. Sowers & Co., dry goods, Elfreth started a carpet business with his brother, James Elfreth. Elfreth Jr. never married and died November 14, 1924, in Landsdowne, Pennsylvania.

This collection is composed of 64 volumes of the bound, handwritten diaries of Jacob R. Elfreth, Jr. Early diaries, from 1861 to 1867, focus on military movement and battles during the Civil War, reactions to President Lincoln's assassination, and the political tensions during the aftermath of the war.

The majority of entries detail day-to-day activities, family news, news of Elfreth's carpet business, attendance at Quaker meetings, social calls, accounts of weather, and births, deaths, and marriages within the Quaker community.

In later entries, beginning in 1882, Elfreth discusses his work as the School Director for Darby Borough's schools.


Processed by Kara Flynn; completed June, 2015.

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).

Collection Inventory

Vol. 1, 1861.
Volume 1
Vol. 2, 1862.
Volume 2
Scope and Content note

Discusses military movements and battles.

Vol. 3, 1863.
Volume 3
Scope and Content note

Hicksite meetings described. Records Rebel troops movements, particularly General Lee's troops. New York City draft riots. This volume includes a list of remedies at the back for "bite of mad dogs," "smallpox," "broken bones," and the "bite of rattle snakes."

Vol. 4, 1864.
Volume 4
Scope and Content note

Descriptions of Hicksite meetings, records civil war battles.

Vol. 5, 1865.
Volume 5
Scope and Contents note

Entries describe celebrations in the streets of Philadelphia when General Lee's army surrenders. Describes reactions to Lincoln's assasination, both personal reactions, and the reactions of the people of Philadelphia. This volume includes a typed, transcribed copy of the entry concerning Elfreth's initial reaction to Lincoln's assasination. Final entries describe the end of the war.

Vol. 6, 1866.
Volume 6
Scope and Content note

Includes "remedies" or "cures" for; neuralgia, hydrophobia, dyspepsia, and cholera, as well as a "cholera preventative."

Vol. 7, 1867.
Volume 7
Scope and Content note

Entries describe political upheaval after the end of the civil war, especially concerning new president Andrew Johnson. Legislation establishing rights for formerly enslaved people.

Vol. 8, 1868.
Volume 8
Vol. 9, 1869.
Volume 9
Vol. 10, 1870.
Volume 10
Vol. 11, 1871.
Volume 11
Vol. 12, 1872.
Volume 12
Vol. 13, 1873.
Volume 13
Vol. 14, 1874.
Volume 14
Vol. 15, 1875.
Volume 15
Scope and Content note

Entries include discussions of Hicksite meetings.

Vol. 16, 1876.
Volume 16
Scope and Content note

Entries include discussions about issues within the local meeting, including increases in disownment. Volume includes paper cut out with the note; "given to me by Hannah Smith 4-21-1876."

Vol. 17, 1877.
Volume 17
Vol. 18, 1878.
Volume 18
Scope and Content note

European politics discussed, particularly as related to Russia.

Vol. 19, 1879.
Volume 19
Scope and Content note

Darby schools discussed, including books bought for the schools, supervising the building of new school houses.

Vol. 20, 1880.
Volume 20
Scope and Content note

Business related to schools, including vaccinating of school children.

Vol. 21, 1881.
Volume 21
Vol. 22, 1882.
Volume 22
Vol. 23, 1883.
Volume 23
Vol. 24, 1884.
Volume 24
Vol. 25, 1885.
Volume 25
Vol. 26, 1886.
Volume 26
Vol. 27, 1887.
Volume 27
Scope and Content note

Entries related to the Darby Home Protection Society and school taxes. Includes school tax notices for 1882, and a pamphlet with the "list of signers for license to sell liqours for year 1887, in the Buttonwood Hotel, Darby."

Vol. 28, 1888.
Volume 28
Vol. 29, 1889.
Volume 29
Vol. 30, 1890.
Volume 30
Vol. 31, 1891.
Volume 31
Scope and Content note

Included in this volume; funreal invitation, advertisement for a "ten minute headache cure."

Vol. 32, 1892.
Volume 32
Scope and Content note

Obituary for Morris Cope inside.

Vol. 33, 1893.
Volume 33
Vol. 34, 1894.
Volume 34
Scope and Content note

Entries discuss urban development and the disappearance of Smith's Island.

Vol. 35, 1895.
Volume 35
Vol. 36, 1896.
Volume 36
Vol. 37, 1897.
Volume 37
Vol. 38, 1898.
Volume 38
Vol. 39, 1899.
Volume 39
Vol. 40, 1900.
Volume 40
Scope and Content note

Entries related to foreign politics, including the Boer War, China, and Russia. Inside: Six pound note (1776), New Jersey, Fifty shillings (1773), Pennsylvania.

Vol. 41, 1901.
Volume 41
Vol. 42, 1902.
Volume 42
Vol. 43, 1903.
Volume 43
Vol. 44, 1904.
Volume 44
Vol. 45, 1905.
Volume 45
Vol. 46, 1906.
Volume 46
Scope and Content note

Entries discuss the rising popularity of the automobile and Elfreth's negative reactions to them.

Vol. 47, 1907.
Volume 47
Vol. 48, 1908.
Volume 48
Vol. 49, 1909.
Volume 49
Vol. 50, 1910.
Volume 50
Scope and Content note

Workers strike in Philadelphia.

Vol. 51, 1911.
Volume 51
Vol. 52, 1912.
Volume 52
Vol. 53, 1913.
Volume 53
Scope and Content note

Lock of hair inside, discussion of Quaker "seperation."

Vol. 54, 1914.
Volume 54
Vol. 55, 1915.
Volume 55
Scope and Content note

Entries discuss aging and events related to WWI.

Vol. 56, 1916.
Volume 56
Scope and Content note

Entries discuss WWI, the Peace Party.

Vol. 57, 1917.
Volume 57
Scope and Content note

Foreign politics- China, Russia.

Vol. 58, 1918.
Volume 58
Scope and Content note

Entries related to WWI, the American government's control of foreign trade.

Vol. 59, 1919.
Volume 59
Scope and Content note

Foreign politics, particularly Germany, Russia, and peace treaties. Inside volume; two "fractional currency" three cent bills, dated 1863.

Vol. 60, 1920.
Volume 60
Scope and Content note

Entries related to gardening.

Vol. 61, 1921.
Volume 61
Scope and Content note

Foreign politics, particularly Eastern Europe.

Vol. 62, 1922.
Volume 62
Vol. 63, 1923.
Volume 63
Scope and Content note

Entries related to gardening.

Vol. 64, 1924.
Volume 64

Print, Suggest