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Joshua Francis Fisher correspondence


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

Joshua F. Fisher was born February 17, 1807, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was a well-known Philadelphia citizen from a prominant family. Fisher graduated from Harvard in 1825, where he studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1829 but never practiced. Early in his life Fisher became intrigued by historical studies, especially related to America and Pennsylvania. He was one of the earliest and most productive members of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and later became its vice president. In 1829, at only twenty-two years of age, he conveyed in front of the society "An Account of the Early Poets and Poetry of Pennsylvania," which was published in the Memoirs of the Society. The most important was his address on the "Private Life and Domestic Habits of William Penn" in 1836. Joshua F. Fisher died on January 21, 1873 in Philadelphia.

This collection of Joshua Francis Fisher's correspondence consists of personal letters written to Fisher by his former college friends from Harvard University, Reverend Paul Trapier and Allyne Otis. All the letters are handwritten and some of the letters from Allyne Otis have been transcribed. The letters span from 1825 to 1856 or are undated. Additionally, there are a few miscellaneous letters, including a typescript letter dated 1806 from a G.H. Otis, a typescript letter from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's sister describing his wedding to Frances Appleton dated 1843, a letter and corresponding transcript from one “Williams” dated 1849, and letter from Harrison White dated 1861.

The letters in the collection have been arranged by author and then chronologically. They provide insight into the daily lives of upper class individuals of nineteenth century Philadelphia. The use of casual, colloquial, and personal language is also evident.

The letters concern the everyday lives of Otis and Trapier. Trapier's letters begin in 1825 and contain details on his and Fisher's college days. After college, Trapier's letters discuss his education at a seminary and later his life as an Episcopal minister in Charleston, South Carolina. His later letters contain information on current events and family matters, such as the death of his young daughter, Francis Dehon Trapier, in 1855. (With the letter is her obituary.)

Otis's letters are also personal, and they begin in the spring of 1828 with his engagement announcement. His letters are almost exclusively addressed from Boston. Otis speaks of private matters and travels, particularly his travels with Fisher. In 1840, Otis comments on Fisher’s travel habits while his wife was expecting a child. While the majority of the letters were sent to Fisher at his Philadelphia address, 170 Chestnut Street, a few letters were addressed to London, England; New Orleans, Louisiana; or Newport, Rhode Island.

Virtual American Biographies. "Joshua Francis Fisher." Hall of North and South Americans. (accessed August 20, 2013).

Provenance unkown.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Dan DelViscio.
Finding Aid Date
; 2013.
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Typescript Letter from G.H. Otis, March, 1806.
Box 1 Folder 1
Allyne Otis to Joshua Francis Fisher, 1825-1828.
Box 1 Folder 2
Allyne Otis to Joshua Francis Fisher, 1828-1832.
Box 1 Folder 3
Allyne Otis to Joshua Francis Fisher, 1833.
Box 1 Folder 4
Allyne Otis to Joshua Francis Fisher, 1834.
Box 1 Folder 5
Allyne Otis to Joshua Francis Fisher, 1835-1836.
Box 1 Folder 6
Allyne Otis to Joshua Francis Fisher, 1836-1839.
Box 1 Folder 7
Allyne Otis to Joshua Francis Fisher, 1840-1856.
Box 1 Folder 8
Allyne Otis to Joshua Francis Fisher, undated.
Box 1 Folder 9
Joshua Francis Fisher letter transcripts, 1825-1848.
Box 1 Folder 10
Joshua Francis Fisher letter transcripts, 1849-1855.
Box 1 Folder 11
Reverend Paul Trapier to Joshua Francis Fisher, 1825-1826.
Box 2 Folder 1
Reverend Paul Trapier to Joshua Francis Fisher, 1826-1829.
Box 2 Folder 2
Reverend Paul Trapier to Joshua Francis Fisher, 1829-1855.
Box 2 Folder 3
Letter from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's sister, August, 1843.
Box 2 Folder 4
"Williams" to Joshua Francis Fisher, September 1849.
Box 2 Folder 5
Harrison White letter, 1861.
Box 2 Folder 6
Miscellaneous Notes, undated.
Box 2 Folder 7

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