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Fenton and Remak families papers


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 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 1885 marriage of Thomas Hanover Fenton (1856-1929) and Lizzie Spear Remak (born 1857), both of whom were born in Philadelphia, brought together two prominent local families. Fenton received a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1877 and went on to become a leading ophthalmologist. He founded the American Society of Tropical Medicine and was a member of the College of Physicians, where he gave numerous lectures during his career. Fenton was also an enthusiastic patron of the arts. He served as president of the Orpheus Chorus and was a member of the Art Club, through which he met painter Thomas Eakins, who painted Fenton's portrait in 1905.

Fenton and his wife had three children, the eldest of whom was Beatrice Fenton (1887-1983). Beatrice became a celebrated artist and sculptor whose works include Seaweed Fountain (circa 1920), Narcissus (1922), and Pan with Sundial (1938). She studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, taught at the Moore College of Art, and kept a studio in Philadelphia. She became close friends with others in her field, including art teacher Marjorie Martinet of Baltimore, Maryland, and artist Emily Clayton Bishop, who was also from Maryland. Fenton's other two children were Doris (born 1891) and Powell (born circa 1890). Doris attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and later became a professor of English at Beaver College (now Arcadia University). Powell Fenton served overseas in France during World War I.

On the other side of the family, Lizzie Remak's parents were lawyer Gustavus Remak (1817-1886) and poet Susan Maria Scott (circa 1832-1905). Remak was also a member and served as president of the Fairmount Park Commission, and, as such, helped plan the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Susan's parents were Freeman Scott (1801-1878), a Philadelphia politician and poet, and Mary Justice (1810-1878). Remak and his wife had at least one other child, son Gustavus Remak Jr. (born 1861), who served as president of the Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania. Remak Jr. married Caroline Voorhees, and the couple had two daughters, Margaret and Caroline Jr.

The Fenton and Remak family papers date from about the 1820s to the 1970s and include photographs, correspondence, genealogical records, and scrapbooks. On the Fenton side, Doris and Beatrice Fenton's papers make up the bulk of the materials; while on the Remak side, the bulk of the papers pertain to Susan M. Scott Remak's ancestry.

The collection is roughly arranged into fourteen boxes and papers generally remain in the groups in which they were found. The vast majority of loose photographs have been sleeved and placed in archival binders. Two cased photographs, three glass slides, and two glass negatives were moved to the end of the collection and placed in custom-made boxes. The photographs are generally in good condition but are mostly unlabeled. There is also one flat file of oversized documents, as well as six volumes.

Boxes 1 and 2 contain papers of the Remak family, among which are the earliest documents the collection. In Box 1 there are two folders of papers from Freeman Scott, Susan Remak's father, that consist of his poetry and a few letters. Notably, several of his poems are titled "Accrostick" (acrostic), which denotes a type of poem in which the first letter of each line, when separated from the poem, spells out an individual's name or phrase. Following Freeman's papers are two folders of papers from Susan's husband, Gustavus Remak, the bulk of which are letters he wrote to Susan from just before and after their marriage in 1856. Scattered among this correspondence are a few business letters and papers pertaining to the Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Some of Susan's own papers, mostly her poetry, follow the folders of her husband's papers. Most of the poems are handwritten, but there are several newspaper clippings that show her published poetry, as well as two commemorative poems printed on silk. Rounding out the Remak family papers, at the end of Box 1 and in Box 2, are Susan Remak's notes on her family's history that she made in preparation for her application to the Daughters of the American Revolution. The bulk of her research, some of which she conducted at several Philadelphia institutions, was devoted primarily to her Scott family ancestors and include notes on Freeman Scott, his father Isaac Scott, and Isaac's father-in-law, Lieutenant Samuel Strickland.

Boxes 3, 4, and 5 contain papers of the Fenton family. Thomas Hanover Fenton graduated with a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and worked as an ophthalmologist in Philadelphia. There is one folder of his papers in Box 3 that consist of lecture tickets and a few school documents, letters he wrote to his daughter Doris, and his passport from 1885. Following Thomas's papers is a folder of Lizzie Remak Fenton's papers, consisting of four pieces of correspondence and a personal diary from 1883.

Thomas and Lizzie Fenton had two daughters, Doris and Beatrice, and one son, Powell. Doris was the oldest child, and her correspondence, in Boxes 3 and 4, makes up the bulk of the Fenton family papers. Doris's letters cover much of her adult life, from her time at Wellesley College during the 1910s to her tenure as a professor of English at Beaver College for Women (now Arcadia University) from the 1930s to the 1960s. Beyond miscellaneous correspondence and a significant accumulation of invitations, there are large groups of letters from Doris's mother (Box 3, Folder 5), a friend who signed her letters "Maisie" or "Theta" (Box 3, Folder 8), and a former professor named William N. Bates (Box 4, Folder 5).

At only four folders (in Box 5), Beatrice's Fenton's papers cover much less ground and are more scattered than those of her sister. In addition to clippings, an account book, a pen set, a few sketches, and a couple of family history documents, the majority of her papers concern donations she made to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the late 1970s.

Rounding out the manuscripts in this collection is a folder of Fenton family genealogical records (Box 5, Folder 5), two folders of miscellaneous printed matter, images, and documents, and a folder pertaining to the Martinet family history (Box 5, Folder 7). Beatrice Fenton was close friends with Baltimore artist Marjorie Martinet. While it is not known who compiled the documents, at some point they probably came into Beatrice's possession, given her freindship with Marjorie.

The rest of the collection consists of photographs, photograph albums, other volumes, and a flat file. Box 6 contains small photograph albums, while Box 7 contains three folders of photographs of Beatrice Fenton's sculptural works, as well as oversized family photographs. Boxes 8 through 10 are archival photograph albums that contain a compendium of loose (now sleeved) photographs that significantly reflect the lives of family members from about the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. Making up the volumes are two more photograph albums, Susan Remak's poetry book, a mostly empty scrapbook that contains a few clippings on Queen Victoria of England, and two Wellesley College yearbooks from 1912 and 1913. In the flat file is a diploma for an honorary degree received by Beatrice Fenton from Moore College in 1956 and Thomas Fenton's and Lizzie Remak's marriage certificate from 1885.

Provenance unknown.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Cary Majewicz
Finding Aid Date
, April 2010
Processing made prossible by a generous donation from Bruce Fenton.
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Remak family papers, (1821-1905). 0.8 Linear feet.
Box 1-2
Arrangement note

Box 1, folder 1: Freeman Scott and Susan M. Scott Remak poetry (1821, 1844-1856)

Box 1, folder 2: Freeman Scott poetry and letters from Susan H. Scott to Freeman Scott (1821-1868)

Box 1, folder 3: Freeman Scott poetry (1869, 1877, undated)

Box 1, folders 4-5: Gustavus Remak papers (1856-1857, 1876)

Box 1, folders 6-8: Susan M. Scott Remak papers and poetry (1856-1905, bulk 1882-1901)

Box 1, folder 9: Scott family research by Susan M. Scott Remak (circa 1900)

Box 2, folders 1-4: Scott family research by Susan M. Scott Remak (circa 1900)

Box 2, folder 5: Daughters of the American Revolution to Mrs. Gustavus (Susan M.) Remak (1901-1903)

Box 2, folder 6: Remak family miscellaneous (1845-1878)

Physical Description

0.8 Linear feet

Fenton family papers; Items removed from volumes; Martinet family papers; Miscellaneous, (1844-1977). 1.2 Linear feet.
Box 3-5
Arrangement note

Box 3, folder 1: Items removed from Volume 1 (1844-1868, undated)

Box 3, folder 2: Items removed from Volume 4 (1898-1906)

Box 3, folder 3: Thomas H. Fenton papers (1865-1909, bulk 1873-1876)

Box 3, folder 4: Lizzie Remak Fenton papers (1883, 1905, 1911, 1919, 1922, undated)

Box 3, folder 5: Lizzie Remak Fenton ("Mama") to Doris Fenton (1909-1913, bulk 1909)

Box 3, folder 6: Susan M. Scott Remak ("Grandma Remak") to Doris Fenton (1900-1918)

Box 3, folder 7: Elise Tietz to Doris Fenton (1902-1909)

Box 3, folder 8: "Maisie" a.k.a. "Theta" to Doris Fenton (1905-1911)

Box 4, folders 1-2: Invitations sent to Doris Fenton (1908-1926)

Box 4, folder 3: "Bud" to Doris Fenton (1911, 1914)

Box 4, folder 4: Beaver College and Temple University to Doris Fenton (1930-1962)

Box 4, folder 5: William N. Bates to Doris Fenton (1937-1943, bulk 1940-1942)

Box 4, folder 6: Doris Fenton miscellaneous correspondence (circa 1980-1930)

Box 5, folder 1: Beatrice Fenton papers (1887-1977, bulk 1977)

Box 5, folder 2: Beatrice Fenton account book and pen set (circa 1930)

Box 5, folder 3: Beatrice Fenton clippings and articles (1936)

Box 5, folder 4: Beatrice Fenton - "sketches of ornament" (circa 1972)

Box 5, folder 5: Fenton family genealogical research (1916, undated)

Box 5, folder 6: Fenton family miscellaneous (circa 1900-circa 1942, undated)

Box 5, folder 7: Martinet family papers and genealogical research (1916-1939)

Box 5, folder 8: Miscellaneous (1886-circa 1942)

Physical Description

1.2 Linear feet

Loose photographs and archival photograph albums; Miscellaneous family papers; cased photographs; glass slides and negatives, (circa 1850-circa 1980). 1.5 Linear feet.
Box 6-14
Arrangement note

Box 6, folder 1: Small photograph albums (circa 1890, 1963)

Box 6, folders 2-3: Photograph albums (circa 1910) [FRAGILE--PLEASE HANDLE WITH CARE]

Box 7, folders 1-3: Beatrice Fenton photographs (circa 1920-circa 1970)

Box 7, folders 4-5: Fenton family photographs [oversize] (circa 1880-circa 1950)

Box 7, folder 6: Miscellaneous family papers [oversize] (circa 1980, undated)

Box 7, folders 7-8: Miscellaneous negatives and artifacts (undated)

Boxes 8-10: Fenton family photographs in archival photo albums (circa 1850-circa 1920)

Boxes 11-12: Family photographs [cased] (circa 1880, circa 1920)

Boxes 13-14: Glass slides and negatives (circa 1917, circa 1920)

Physical Description

1.5 Linear feet

Volumes, (circa 1850-1913). 1 Linear feet.
Volume 1-6
Arrangement note

Volume 1: Susan M. Scott Remak poetry book (circa 1877)

Volumes 2-3: Photograph albums (circa 1850-circa 1900)

Volume 4: Scrapbook (1897-1907)

Volumes 5-6: Legenda, Wellesley College yearbooks (1912, 1913)

Physical Description

1.0 Linear feet

Thomas Fenton/Lizzie Remak marriage certificate (flat file 1); Beatrice Fenton diploma - honorary degree from Moore College (flat file 2), (1885, 1956).
Oversize 1-2

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