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French Benevolent Society of Philadelphia records


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 French Benevolent Society was founded on February 6, 1793—the anniversary of the alliance between France and the United States in the Revolutionary War. Although its existence was threatened in 1798, the organization developed a Constitution in 1804, was chartered in 1805, then re-chartered in 1835. It adopted new Articles of Incorporation in 1986 and became an incorporated charity in 1987. Francis Dallett, the honorary Vice President and Archivist of the Society donated the Society’s materials to the Balch Institute in 1993 where they exist today.

The Society was founded to offer moral or financial assistance to those of French descent. This tradition started in 1793 to aid those fleeing the Revolution in France and the West Indies. When an outbreak of yellow fever occurred in the City of Philadelphia in August of 1793, the Society’s existence was sealed. Twenty-two percent of the population affected were new comers from Saint-Domingue (Haiti) and of French descent. The Society assisted the survivors and new arrivals from Saint-Domingue who were also fleeing revolution. Among the members of the first Society were diplomat Jean de Ternant, Philadelphia lawyer Peter Stephen du Ponceau, dentist James Gardette, ship broker and notary public Benjamin Nones and Consul General Antoine de la Forest. Nineteen others helped to co-found the Society. The Society was predominantly Catholic, but membership was open to all, and there existed both Protestant and Jewish members.

In 1798, the Society faced a slump, as the political scene became stable and French emigres were once again able to return to France. The Society had invested its money wisely, though, and was able to regroup in 1804. In that year, its members numbered one hundred and fourty-four. Jean Baptiste Marie Dubarry, Peter Stephen Du Ponceau, and Stephen Girard were all influential members of the “new” Society, now faced with the next wave of French emigration—the Bonapartists in 1815.

The Society continued to aid needy persons throughout the 1800s. Between the years 1847-1861, an annual ball was given to raise money. It became the toast of the season, selling out the Musical Fund Hall and generating hundreds of dollars for indigent French persons. When World War I left many French children without Fathers, the Benevolent Society was quick to sponsor these children, sending money so that they could remain in school. It helped on the homefront, as well, by assisting the wives of Frenchmen who enlisted as soldiers.

During the late 19th and early 20th century, the Society had many investments in properties throughout Philadelphia. The moneys generated through these investments enabled the Society to continue to help those who applied to them for assistance, whether it be for a job, for funeral expenses, or for transport back to France.

Through much of its existence, membership in the Society cost only three dollars. These annual subscriptions added to the revenue, along with money and properties they inherited from members and others who were deeply appreciative of the work the Society did for the French in the City. Architect and former President of the Society Paul Cret, Lucy Kille, Jules Kerle all left legacies to the Society affirming the need for it and the love and support of its members.

The Society often honored those whom it felt were deeply deserving. A portrait was made and a banquet held for H.A. Pintard, a long time member of the Society. A medal was engraved for the first President of France, M. Thiers, and was presented to him by the American Consulate in France. Telegrams were sent to Woodrow Wilson regarding American involvement in foreign wars. Letters of condolence were sent to the families of Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley. These efforts were always acknowledged by the distinguished recipients demonstrating the respect the Society generated both in the United States and in France.

The Members of the Board met monthly to go over the disbursements made, but the full membership met only once a year at the Annual Assembly. At the assembly, the President gave a report. These reports were often printed and always dictated into the papers of the Society.

There are few materials in this collection post 1941. The Society has slowly suffered a loss in membership and what remains of the more recent materials can be found in the collection of Francis Dallett, also held by the Balch Institute. His extensive research on the history and origins of the members of the Society blossomed into a vast collection of the French influence in Philadelphia and the French families who lived there.

The French Benevolent Society was founded in 1793, but there are no remaining records from this original charter period. The organization was re-chartered in 1805 and then re-chartered again in 1835. The materials from the period between 1804 and 1835 are mainly the correspondence of Jean Claude Laval (the first president under the 1805 charter). Much of this correspondence is with a book seller, James McCoy and has little to do with the activities of the society. The 1804 constitution is housed in Series IV; Box 16; Folder 5. Beginning in 1835, the collection becomes rich in materials. It is assumed that this is when a formal record retention policy was instituted, and it is the earliest date on a formal ledger—the History of the Society Ledger (Series IV, Box 16, Folder 2) dates from 1835-1875.

The correspondence dating from the 1830 through the 1850s is again mostly correspondence of Jean Claude Laval. There are also society notices and meeting announcements and society condolences in this period as well. The bulk of the material begins in the 1850s. The correspondence between 1848 and 1864 is held in the Lettered Correspondence Series III, Sub Series A, in the “K” and “R” sequences. The French Benevolent Society hosted an annual Ball that began in 1847. Series V; Boxes 24 and 26 contain the Ball correspondence and scrapbooks.

The Financial Records of the Benevolent Society mostly contain the Property records. The Society generated revenue through investments in properties. They collected rent on these properties and it is these records which are housed in Series II. Treasurer’s Reports can also be found in the Lettered Correspondence Series III, but remain there because of the original order of Lettered envelopes (see Series Notes below). There are financial records and Income/Expense reports covering the years 1843-1941. There are Membership lists and Meeting Minutes from 1830-1941. (Administrative Series IV; Boxes 18-23).

The Case Files, cover the years 1914 through 1941. Most cases records are in this period which encompassed World War I, the Depression, and the beginning of World War II. The Fatherless Children of France adoptee records are contained in this series, and the photographs removed from the collection were removed from this Box (27). The List Helped Ledgers contain records from 1874-1913.

For the continuation of the French Benevolent Society Records, see the Francis James Dallett Papers (Collection 3046). This collection also contains background on French families in Philadelphia, with a special emphasis on the families of the members of the French Benevolent Society. There are notes on the French influence in Philadelphia, Maryland and New York.

Series I. Correspondence

Series II. Financial records

Subseries II. a. Properties

Subseries II. b. Treasurer's reports

Subseries II. c. General accounting

Series III. Lettered Envelopes

Subseries III. a. Series "K"

Subseries III. b. Series "L"

Subseries III. c. Series "M"

Subseries III. d. Series "N"

Subseries III. e. Series "O"

Subseries III. f. Series "P"

Subseries III. g. Series "Q"

Subseries III. h. Series "R"

Subseries III. i. Series "S"

Subseries III. j. Series "T"

Subseries III. k. Series "U"

Subseries III. l. Series "V"

Series IV. Administration

Subseries IV. a. General history and constitutions

Subseries IV. b. Annual reports

Subseries IV. c. Membership information

Subseries IV. d. Meeting minutes

Series V. Fundraising events

Subseries V. a. Annual French Society Ball

Subseries V. b. Other events

Subseries V. c. Memorabilia

Series VI. Case files

Series VII. Printed and other ephemera

Gift of Francis J. Dallett, archivist of the French Benevolent Society, 1992.

Accession number M92-30.

This collection consists mainly of ledgers and correspondence in English and French. The correspondence is generally arranged chronologically but was also sorted by subject. The chronological arrangement was sometimes sacrificed, as the method in which the society kept its records was such that subjects of correspondence were housed in envelopes or document containers which were labeled by handwriting. This original arrangement was strictly preserved, and is reflected in the final formal arrangement. The original envelopes still exist as a part of the correspondence collections but the condition in which they are in is very unstable. Whenever possible, the envelopes were kept, clipped between two pieces of acid free paper. When the condition was too fragile, a photocopy was made and the original discarded. Some of the correspondence was also done on this type of paper. The brittle paper was photocopied onto acid free paper and the original is clipped between this photocopy and another piece of acid free paper. This treatment was also necessary for some of the correspondence from the Depression era. Newspaper clippings were photocopied onto acid free paper if they did not pre-date 1850. The Scrapbooks in Series V; Box 24; Folders 17 and 18 were NOT disassembled, nor were they photocopied, although the newspaper clippings are post-1950. In an effort to preserve the true nature of the scrapbooks and the clippings and items within them, they were instead lined with acid-free paper. In this collection the scrapbooks have more meaning as a unit and the destruction of them would mean a loss to some researchers

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Michelle A. Ducellier.
Finding Aid Date
The reformatting of this finding aid into EAD was made possible by generous donations from Page Talbot and the Young Friends of HSP.
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Series description

This series contains the earliest correspondence, and that of John Laval, the first President of the 1805 Charter. Box 1, Folders 1-5 contain letters from Laval to several merchants, some traveling south to New Orleans and other destinations. There is a series of letters between Laval and James McCoy, a book merchant, which offers an interesting look into the difficulties that early settlers faced in starting businesses and acquiring materials promised from them from the more settled eastern states. Also included is correspondence between Laval and his bank in Pottstown, Pennsylvania which gives a small indication of his financial situation. There is a series of legal correspondence over a land dispute and materials on the sale of properties and the like.

In Box 2, Folders 4-7, there is an interesting series of materials covering the making of a Medal for M. Thiers, first President of France. The members of the French Benevolent Society “subscribed” to the making of the medal by donating money and when it was finished it was presented to M. Thiers by a representative of the American consulate in France. Some subscription booklets, a book of “Homage,” news clippings and correspondence are all included.

There is a significant increase in the number of folders in Boxes 3-5. As much as possible, each folder is subject specific and the Folder list should be consulted. Much of the middle 19th Century correspondence (and, more specifically, the Civil War period) was contained in the Lettered Envelope Series III. The “General Correspondence” contained in Boxes 1 and 2 consists mainly of society notices, meeting and funeral announcements. These folders were listed as such, or “General,” except where there was a significant amount of material on the same subject. This is not the case in Boxes 3-5, and to the extent possible, there are no “General” areas contained.

Box 3 contains correspondence from the middle period of the series and the first materials in this series from the 20th Century. In 1903, the members sought to recognize the work of M. H. Pintard, President for many years of the French Benevolent Society. Folders 3 and 6 cover the portrait which was commissioned and the banquet which was held in his honor in 1912.

Estates The French Benevolent Society was a charitable organization. Some of the interesting highlights of Boxes 3-5 are the Estate materials. In Box 3, Folder 15 are the materials from the Estate of Lucy Kille, a wealthy woman who left money to several Philadelphia charities, including the French Benevolent Society. Box 4, Folder 5 contains materials concerning the estate of Alphonse Stephani, imprisoned in Attica. Stephani’s father was a wine merchant in Philadelphia, and a subscribing member of the Society. The French Benevolent Society filed a petition on his behalf in the New York State Supreme Court, and although it was denied, Stephani did not forget them, and, before a codicil was included, under certain circumstances, they were to have received income from his estate. Whenever a society member or other individual left money to the Society, the correspondence, and often a copy of the will, are included in the folder. Generally, a “lost” heir will appear, and this interesting correspondence is also included. The society always checked their authenticity before addressing these people or giving them information about the deaths. The Manuel Waldteufel estate (Box 4, Folder 25) and the Blanc folders (Box 5, Folders 6-7) contain the largest amount of such materials. The estate of Victor Archambault (Box 5, Folder 5) was contested and this folder contains a copy of the case itself. Box 4, Folders 16, and 45 and Box 5, Folders 8, 10, 11, 15-18 are also estate materials.

Box 5, Folders 19-25 all contain information about member deaths. Death announcements, condolence cards and correspondence are all included. These materials extend into the 1980s.

Robinson’s Cemetery Included in Box 5 are the materials from the sale of Robinson’s Cemetery. Robinsons’s Cemetery used to exist between Fitzwater and Bainbridge Streets, and between 9th and 10th Streets. Today, it is owned by the City and is called Palumbo Park. The folders in this series include the correspondence between Charlotte Atkins and the Society. Charlotte Atkins was the driving force behind the preservation of the Cemetery, but it had fallen into a state of disrepair. Efforts were made to collect donations from lot owners and those who had family members buried there. The French Benevolent Society owned lots in this Cemetery—it was founded as a place to bury those without means to buy expensive lots elsewhere—and many early residents of moderate means were buried here. A lot was owned by John Laval and another was acquired by them apparently to bury those helped by the Society but without family or means. There is a news clipping from 1920 showing what the Cemetery looked like. It was formally donated to Mayor Moore and the City of Philadelphia in 1922 to prevent the destruction and scattering of those buried there. The names of those buried there are in the “City Tablets” and the headstones were removed. It is an interesting little section of this series.

Physical Description

(Boxes 1-5)

Jean Claude Laval (First President), 1809-1841.
Box 1 Folder 1-5
Society notices and correspondence, circa 1840-circa 1870.
Box 1 Folder 6-11
General correspondence, 1876-1878.
Box 1 Folder 12-14
Various Correspondence, 1872.
Box 2 Folder 1
Society Correspondence, circa 1870.
Box 2 Folder 2
Vice Consulat of Philadelphia, 1863-1903.
Box 2 Folder 3
Correspondence regarding medal for M. Thiers, 1871-1873.
Box 2 Folder 4
Subscription booklets for Thiers Medal, 1871.
Box 2 Folder 5
News clippings regarding the Thier Medal, 1874.
Box 2 Folder 6
"Hommage" History of the Theirs Medal, 1873.
Box 2 Folder 7
Subscriptions for the Deliverance of France Femmes de France, 1872.
Box 2 Folder 8
Society condolences, 1877-1882.
Box 2 Folder 9
Paul Pohl, Jr. Memorial Window for his wife, 1881-1884.
Box 2 Folder 10
General correspondence, 1885-1895.
Box 2 Folder 11
Subscription lists Comite Franco-American, 1892.
Box 2 Folder 12
General correspondence, 1890-1899.
Box 2 Folder 13-14
General correspondence, 1901.
Box 3 Folder 1
Liasse No. 2 (Bundle No. 2), 1901-1903.
Box 3 Folder 2
Correspondence related to the decoration and portrait of H. Pintard, 1903-1911.
Box 3 Folder 3
General correspondence, 1905-1909.
Box 3 Folder 4
French flood relief, 1910.
Box 3 Folder 5
Banquet to honor H. Pintard, 1912.
Box 3 Folder 6
M. Roberts Dripps, 1917.
Box 3 Folder 7
Relative to M Cret-- Manufacturer's Club, 1919.
Box 3 Folder 8
Legacy of John Dryburgh, 1919-1921.
Box 3 Folder 9
Judge H. Lacombe re: Mrs. P Thomas, 1915.
Box 3 Folder 10
Old Cathedral Cemetery, 1923.
Box 3 Folder 11
Germantown Dispensary Hospital re: Mme Gheysens, 1924.
Box 3 Folder 12
Mrs. James Carville, 1925-1941.
Box 3 Folder 13
General correspondence, 1926.
Box 3 Folder 14
Re: Estate of Lucy Kille, 1926-1927.
Box 3 Folder 15
Alliance Nationale Paris, 1926.
Box 3 Folder 16
Philadelphia Art Galleries and Auction Rooms, 1926.
Box 3 Folder 17
M. Passiller-Troumelen, 1923.
Box 3 Folder 18
Monges Family, 1916.
Box 3 Folder 19
Re: Madeline Jearnnert, 1921.
Box 3 Folder 20
Fatherless Children of France, 1918-1924.
Box 3 Folder 21
L. Lehmann, 1921.
Box 3 Folder 22
Percy Wilcox, 1924.
Box 3 Folder 23
F. Gonzag, 1925.
Box 3 Folder 24
Friendly Inn, 1924.
Box 3 Folder 24
Bell Telephone, 1925.
Box 3 Folder 25
M. Cret, 1924.
Box 3 Folder 26
Belgian Consulate, 1923.
Box 3 Folder 27
Pennsylvania Hospital, 1920.
Box 3 Folder 28
Relief Funds, undated.
Box 3 Folder 29
Edmond Pausser, 1924-1925.
Box 3 Folder 30
Sesqui-Centennial Committee, 1924.
Box 3 Folder 31
Condolence Antoine Bournville, William Green, 1918-1922.
Box 4 Folder 1
Liberty Loan, 1918.
Box 4 Folder 2
M. Simon, 1921.
Box 4 Folder 3
Hibberd B. Worrel and Co., 1924.
Box 4 Folder 4
Re: Estate of Alphonse Stephani, undated.
Box 4 Folder 5
Re: F. Blanc, 1924-1933.
Box 4 Folder 6-7
Re: Mme. Pequignot, 1921.
Box 4 Folder 8
Re: Josephine Delbert, 1917.
Box 4 Folder 9
Georges Maene, 1921.
Box 4 Folder 10
Consulat of France, 1922-1923.
Box 4 Folder 11
Philadelphia Society for Organzing Charity, etc., 1919-1924.
Box 4 Folder 12
Candidature of Governor Smith, 1924.
Box 4 Folder 13
Woodrow Wilson, 1924.
Box 4 Folder 14
Franco-American Fraternity, 1923.
Box 4 Folder 15
Re: Estate of H. Prevost, 1917-1918.
Box 4 Folder 16
J. Rigoreau, 1919-1921.
Box 4 Folder 17
Souvenir Jusserand, 1919.
Box 4 Folder 18
Various Correspondence, 1924.
Box 4 Folder 19
Welfare Federation, 1920.
Box 4 Folder 20
Re: V. Fonteneau, 1920.
Box 4 Folder 21
Adele Besson, 1923.
Box 4 Folder 22
D.G. Defrasnes, 1921.
Box 4 Folder 23
Benac Lagacy, 1912.
Box 4 Folder 24
Re: Estate of Manuel Waldtreufel, 1916-1919.
Box 4 Folder 25
La Pouponniere, 1916-1920.
Box 4 Folder 26
Transfer to M. Dehon, Treasurer, 1913-1914.
Box 4 Folder 27
Society flag, 1917.
Box 4 Folder 28
Membership dues, 1927.
Box 4 Folder 29
Annual Meeting, 1927.
Box 4 Folder 30
Consulat of France, 1927.
Box 4 Folder 31
Society condolences, 1927-1928.
Box 4 Folder 32
Re: Angela Lepiemme, 1928.
Box 4 Folder 33
Re: William Rietzell, 1928.
Box 4 Folder 34
Transfer to M. Georges Maene, Treasurer, 1928.
Box 4 Folder 35
Fidelity Trust--Sale of Liberty Bonds, Correspondence, 1929.
Box 4 Folder 36
Re: Giragos Vartanian, 1929.
Box 4 Folder 37
Re: Mr. and Mrs. Gerard Senez, 1928-1929.
Box 4 Folder 38
Reverend Rahard, 1929.
Box 4 Folder 39
Re: La Marechale Foch, 1929.
Box 4 Folder 40
Adrienne Taylor, 1929.
Box 4 Folder 41
Re: Mme Lalande, 1929.
Box 4 Folder 42
Annual meeting, 1929.
Box 4 Folder 43
Disabled Veterans of the World War, 1929.
Box 4 Folder 44
Re: Estate of Charles Penas, 1930.
Box 4 Folder 45
Meeting and subscription notices, 1930-1931.
Box 5 Folder 1
Re: Alfred Berthier, 1930.
Box 5 Folder 2
Re: Victor Legallais, 1930.
Box 5 Folder 3
Society Cases (not restricted), 1930-1931.
Box 5 Folder 4
Re: Estate of Victor Archambault, 1931.
Box 5 Folder 5
Re: Louise Anne Augustine Sureau, 1931.
Box 5 Folder 6
Re: Mme. Oliver Auger, 1930.
Box 5 Folder 7
Re: Estate of Leonie Delbert, 1931.
Box 5 Folder 8
Re: Jules Breton, 1931.
Box 5 Folder 9
Legacy of Gladys Foulke, 1934.
Box 5 Folder 10
Lagacy of Verignon, 1935.
Box 5 Folder 11
Society Notes, Membership, 1931.
Box 5 Folder 12
Case Notes, 1930.
Box 5 Folder 13
Re: Mme. Darbier, 1940-1942.
Box 5 Folder 14
Re: Estate of H. Pintard, 1948.
Box 5 Folder 15
Re: Paul Cret, 1948.
Box 5 Folder 16
Re: Estate of Jules Kerle, 1950-1952.
Box 5 Folder 17-18
Society condolences, 1929-1937.
Box 5 Folder 19-21
Society deaths/condolences, 1940-1980s.
Box 5 Folder 22-25
Re: Dufrasne, 1940.
Box 5 Folder 26
Robinson's Cemetery, 1917-1922.
Box 5 Folder 27-29

Subseries a. . Properties. (Boxes 6-9).
Subseries description

During the 1930s and 1940s, much of the income that the French Benevolent Society received was return on their property investments. These Boxes contain the materials from mortgages and deeds to properties that the Society bought. The Society would buy a mortgage and would use the collected money as revenue. There is a large volume of receipts for improvements, estimates, correspondence about potential investments, etc. Certain residences generated more material than others, usually indicative of a need for extensive maintenance and improvements. The largest collections are Box 6, Folders 11-15 (631 Chester Pike which actually went through several address changes), Box 7, Folders 13-15 (526 Pine Street), and Box 7, Folders 16-17-Box 8, Folders 1-4 (3142 and 3150 North 8th Street). To keep track of their investments and also an indication of the importance of them, four chronological ledgers were kept logging receipts from 1887 through 1952. These ledgers are housed in Box 9.

Physical Description

(Boxes 6-9)

Unmatched mortgages, deeds, insurance, 1887-1940.
Box 6 Folder 1
Clinton Rhodes, Property Investments, 1923-1924.
Box 6 Folder 2
Mortgage information, 1928-1930.
Box 6 Folder 3
Deed Somerset Street, 1853.
Box 6 Folder 4
Deed Columbia Avenue and 22nd Street, 1872.
Box 6 Folder 5
606 North 22nd Street, 1902-1904.
Box 6 Folder 6-7
1824 South 55th Street, 1900-1941.
Box 6 Folder 8-9
324 North 38th Street, 1917-1919.
Box 6 Folder 10
631 Chester Pike, 1925-1941.
Box 6 Folder 11-15
2330 North 16th Street, 1931-1936.
Box 7 Folder 1-2
901 Fox Building, 1932-1936.
Box 7 Folder 3
324 Wallace Street, 1928.
Box 7 Folder 4
1714 Wallace Street, 1928.
Box 7 Folder 5
232 North 9th Street, 1928.
Box 7 Folder 6
19th and Fairmount Avenue, 1930.
Box 7 Folder 7
1720 Wallace Street, 1931.
Box 7 Folder 8
518 Shunk Street, 1931.
Box 7 Folder 9
595 1/2 East Alcott Street, 1931.
Box 7 Folder 10
610 East Allens Lane, 1931.
Box 7 Folder 11
1620 Broad Street, 1931.
Box 7 Folder 12
526 Pine Street, 1931-1937.
Box 7 Folder 13-15
3142-3150 North 8th Street, 1933-1941.
Box 7 Folder 16-17
3142 North 8th Street, 1933-1941.
Box 8 Folder 1-2
3150 North 8th Street, 1933-1941.
Box 8 Folder 3-4
1509 Green Street, 1931-1941.
Box 8 Folder 5-7
6700 North 6th Street, 1929-1942.
Box 8 Folder 8-10
Property list, circa 1947.
Box 8 Folder 11
Real Estate--Ledger, 1887-1952.
Box 9 Folder 1-4
Subseries b. . Treasurer's Reports. (Box 10).
Subseries description

Along with the Treasurer’s Reports in the Lettered Envelope Series III, Boxes 13 and 14), there is a complete set of Reports as generated by the society from 1836-1879. It is unclear why the collection of Treasurer Reports was separated into two series, but in the interest of keeping the original order, it was necessary to keep the Lettered Envelope Series Reports within their own series. In the Financial series, there is a bound ledger entitled “S.B.F. Archives” which contain records from 1836-57 and then a straight run of reports from 1869-1879. This continues the series found in the Lettered Envelope Series (1843-1868). There do not appear to be any Treasurer’s Reports in the collection after 1879, but there is a series of ledgers in the General Accounting series which accounts for Income/Expenses up to and including 1922. For further financial records it is necessary to look at the Annual Reports which have been separated to the Library as a periodical series.

Physical Description

(Box 10)

Constitutions and treasurer's Reports, 1807-1857.
Box 10 Folder 1
Treasurer's Report, 1869-1879.
Box 10 Folder 2-12
Subseries c. . General accounting. (Box 11).
Subseries description

The bulk of the material in this series was generated in the post World War I period. The Society had invested in Liberty bonds and it generated revenue through the sale of these loans and bonds after the War was over. The correspondence with the different companies (see folder list) deals mainly with the sale of individual bonds. At the end of this series in Folders 13-15, there is a series of Income/Expenses ledgers which covers the incoming and outgoing payments of the society from 1850-1922. For further financial records it is necessary to look at the Annual Reports which have been separated to the Library as a periodical series.

Physical Description

(Box 11)

Philadelphia Bank, 1804.
Box 11 Folder 1
Auction, 1896.
Box 11 Folder 2
Fidelity Trust, 1918-1925.
Box 11 Folder 3
Federal Reserve--Liberty loan information, 1918-1919.
Box 11 Folder 4
Charles Fearon and Company, 1918.
Box 11 Folder 5
Isaac Starr, Jr. and Company, 1919-1921.
Box 11 Folder 6
Commercial Trust Company, 1921.
Box 11 Folder 7
Cassatt and Company, 1920.
Box 11 Folder 8
Pennsylvania Railroad, 1923.
Box 11 Folder 9
Thomas A. Biddle and Company, 1922-1925.
Box 11 Folder 10
Invoices, 1923-1925.
Box 11 Folder 11
Lease/insurance information 1535-39 Chestnut Street, 1916-1922.
Box 11 Folder 12
Income/expenses--Ledger, 1850-1922.
Box 11 Folder 13-15

Scope and content note

Note from preliminary inventory control list: “The following items…were originally in heavy paper packets (document envelopes) and have now been opened and placed in folders. The packets…had each been given an alphabetical letter…”. To preserve original order, this series of materials was not broken down and incorporated into the series into which they appear to belong—all materials were kept in Sub Series corresponding to the letter that was given to them on the Document Envelopes by the French Benevolent Society Secretary. Below is a short description of each Sub Series. The description was made from observations and the help of the Archival Inventory made by the Society in 1903 and included in Series IV, Box 16, Folder 3.

Subseries a. . Series "K". (Box 12, Folders 1-6).
Subseries description

Folders 1-6 contain the numbered correspondence which relates to an inventory that is not included in the collection, or was not matched to this series of letters. It includes letters numbered 1-120, and the dates range from 1848-1869. It includes “letters of Consuls, Ministers and Mayors, etc.; letters of resignation from offices, diverse propositions, presentations of medals; letter from M. Epineuil, letter from the Pennsylvania Hospital and letter from the flag factory."

Physical Description

(Box 12, Folders 1-6)

Original Envelope, undated.
Box 12 Folder 1
Correspondence, Letters Nos. 1-12, 1848-1864.
Box 12 Folder 2
Correspondence, Letters Nos. 13-23, 1864-1866.
Box 12 Folder 3
Correspondence, Letters Nos. 100-110, 1842-1861.
Box 12 Folder 4
Correspondence, Letters Nos. 111-116, 1853-1864.
Box 12 Folder 5
Correspondence, Letters Nos. 117-120, 1864-1869.
Box 12 Folder 6
Subseries b. . Series "L". (Box 12, Folders 7-8).
Subseries description

Folders 7-8 start a series of Annual Assembly--President’s reports from the years 1845-56. Included are years 1845, 1848, 1850, 1853, 1854-56. Also included was an “exemplaire”—typical example of La Gazette Francaise, a French language, newspaper which was not retained.

Physical Description

(Box 12, Folders 7-8)

Original envelope, undated.
Box 12 Folder 7
Annual Assembly--President's Report, 1845-1856.
Box 12 Folder 8
Subseries c. . Series "M". (Box 12, Folders 10-13).
Subseries description

The continuation of a series of Annual Assembly reports are included in Series “M”. Folders 10-13 contain years 1857-1861, and the “discourse of M. A. Vaillant”.

Physical Description

(Box 12, Folders 10-13)

Original envelope, undated.
Box 12 Folder 9
Annual Assembly--President's Report, 1857-1861.
Box 12 Folder 10-13
Subseries d. . Series "N". (Box 13, Folders 1-7).
Subseries description

The “N” series continues the series of Annual Assembly reports and includes the years 1862-1868.

Physical Description

(Box 13, Folders 1-7)

Original envelope, undated.
Box 13 Folder 1
Annual Assembly Reports--President's Reports, 1862-1868.
Box 13 Folder 2-7
Subseries e. . Series "O". (Box 13, Folders 8-20).
Subseries description

The series of Treasurer’s reports which is continued in the Financial Record Series II (Box 10) is included here. Series “O” contains Reports from the years 1843- 1859.

Physical Description

(Box 13, Folders 8-20)

Original envelope, undated.
Box 13 Folder 8
Treasurer's Reports, 1843-1859.
Box 13 Folder 9-20
Subseries f. . Series "P". (Box 14, Folders 1-9).
Series description

The “P” series continues the series of Treasurer’s Reports and includes the years 1860-1867.

Physical Description

(Box 14, Folders 1-9)

Original envelope, undated.
Box 14 Folder 1
Treasurer's Report, 1860-1867.
Box 14 Folder 2-9
Subseries g. . Series "Q". (Box 14, Folders 10-14).
Subseries description

This is a series of General Correspondence and includes Folders 10-14. According to the S.B.F. 1903 inventory, Series “Q” contains copies of resolutions of the Administrative Bureau, letters of condolence, letters of thanks, letters of M. Frenaye relative to the history of M. Lafour which was related at a Society Ball, letters to Emperor Napoleon and his Ministers.

Physical Description

(Box 14, Folders 10-14)

Original envelope, undated.
Box 14 Folder 10
Correspondence, 1847-1868.
Box 14 Folder 11-14
Subseries h. . Series "R". (Box 14, Folders 15-22).
Subseries description

The “R” series is described as “letters of the members of the Society.” Folders 15-22 include correspondence from 1848-68.

Physical Description

(Box 14, Folders 15-22)

Original envelope, undated.
Box 14 Folder 15
Society Correspondence, 1848-1868.
Box 14 Folder 16-22
Subseries i. . Series "S". (Box 15, Folders 1-4).
Subseries description

Folders 1-4 include correspondence between different regional French Benevolent Societies, including Baltimore, New York City, Chicago, Dubuque and Cincinnati.

Physical Description

(Box 15, Folders 1-4)

Original envelope, undated.
Box 15 Folder 1
New York French Benevolent Society, 1856-1869.
Box 15 Folder 2
Regional Benevolent Societies, 1856-1869.
Box 15 Folder 3
Baltimore French Benevolent Society, 1856-1869.
Box 15 Folder 4
Subseries j. . Series "T". (Box 15, Folders 5-10).
Subseries description

This is an interesting series as it includes election results and materials from the election of the Board Members in the years 1847-68. It includes attendance records, meeting notices, funeral notices and administrative notices.

Physical Description

(Box 15, Folders 5-10)

Original envelope, undated.
Box 15 Folder 5
Administrative notices, 1847-1868.
Box 15 Folder 6
Meeting notices, 1841-1850.
Box 15 Folder 7
Funeral notices, 1847-1868.
Box 15 Folder 8
Attendance records, 1851-1857.
Box 15 Folder 9
Bureau election materials, 1847-1868.
Box 15 Folder 10
Subseries k. . Series "U". (Box 15, Folders 11-16).
Subseries description

Again, the election tallies and materials contained in Series V are of interest as far as Board Administration is concerned. Administrative correspondence is also included in this series.

Physical Description

(Box 15, Folders 11-16)

Original envelope, undated.
Box 15 Folder 11
Administrative correspondence, 1862-1867.
Box 15 Folder 12-13
Election materials, 1849.
Box 15 Folder 14
Election tallies, 1851-1867.
Box 15 Folder 15-16
Subseries l. . Series "V". (Box 15, Folders 17-21).
Subseries description

Series “V” contains information about the Society Balls held in 1864-66 (see Series 5 for more Ball materials). It also contains printed Treasurer reports from the years 1847-56. There are also annual reports from 1847-56 included in this series.

Physical Description

(Box 15, Folders 17-21)

Original envelope, undated.
Box 15 Folder 17
Ball materials, 1864-1866.
Box 15 Folder 18-19
Monthly treasurer reports, 1868.
Box 15 Folder 20
Annual reports, 1847-1856.
Box 15 Folder 21

Subseries a.. General history and constitutions. (Box 16; Box 17, Folders 1-4).
Subseries description

The first three folders in this Sub Series conatin bound volumes of 1)Original Documents and a Scrapbook of Society Happenings from 1862-1960, 2) a History of the Society from 1835-1875, and 3) an Inventory of the Society Archives which was taken in 1903. These three volumes are rich with information concerning the Society during its early and middle years and to a lesser extent from the later years. The inventory is very useful in placing items which have been inadvertently taken out of their original order or context, and the scapbook can support correspondence found elsewhere in the collection.

Folder 4 contains news clippings and newspaper articles, collected from the years 1850-1900 but not placed in any scrapbook.

Folder 5-8 and the continuation of the series in Box 17, folders 1-4 contain Constitutions and revisions of constitutions dating from 1804-1891. Most notable, of course, is the original 1804 constitution located in Box 16, Folder 5.

Physical Description

(Box 16; Box 17, Folders 1-4)

Original documents and scrapbook, 1862-1960.
Box 16 Folder 1
Society history, 1835-1875.
Box 16 Folder 2
Inventory of society archives, 1903.
Box 16 Folder 3
News clippings and newspapers, 1850-1900.
Box 16 Folder 4
Constitution, 1804, undated.
Box 16 Folder 5-6
Constitutions, 1842-1849.
Box 16 Folder 7
Constitution, 1862.
Box 16 Folder 8
Constitutions, 1862.
Box 17 Folder 1
Revision of society constitution, 1890.
Box 17 Folder 2
Constitution, 1891.
Box 17 Folder 3
Sample constitutions, 1855-1883.
Box 17 Folder 4
Subseries b. . Annual reports. (Box 17, Folders 5-9).
Subseries description

A complete series of Annual reports, both hard bound and soft bound have been separated from this section to the Library. What is contained in this series are paper copies of these reports and notes for the printing of them.

Folders 5-8 contain a full series of Annual Reports gathered from 1830-1856. It also has an annotated version of the 1850 Annual Report. There are notes for the Annual Reports printed between 1905 and 1915 and ten years (1858-68) of Annual Reports from the New York French Benevolent Society.

Physical Description

(Box 17, Folders 5-9)

Annual reports, 1830-1856.
Box 17 Folder 5
Annual reports, annotated, 1850.
Box 17 Folder 6
Annual reports, notes, 1905-1915.
Box 17 Folder 7-8
Annual reports, New York City society, 1858-1868.
Box 17 Folder 9
Subseries c. . Membership information. (Boxes 18-20).
Subseries description

Membership information is mostly contained in the form of Ledgers. The Society kept careful ledgers, due to the fact that membership was subscription based. The ledgers keep track of names and amounts paid throughout the years. The five ledgers in Box 18 conatin membership information between 1835 and 1940, complete. There are two odd sized membership ledgers in Box 19 which duplicate information found in the regularly bound volumes-- they cover the dates 1835-1874. A large oversized volume covering 1861-78 completes the series in Box 20. It is unclear why so much of the membership data is duplicated.

Physical Description

(Boxes 18-20)

Membership ledger, undated, 1835-1940.
Box 18 Folder 1-5
Membership ledger, odd sized, 1835-1874.
Box 19 Folder 1-2
Membership ledger, oversized, 1861-1878.
Box 20 Folder 1
Subseries d. . Meeting minutes. (Boxes 21-23).
Subseries description

Like the Membership information, the meeting minutes were kept in ledgers. Boxes 21-23 conatin a complete series of Society minutes from 1830-1942. Because it is odd sized, the meeting minutes from years 1884-98 are housed out of order in Box 23. This is noted on the Folder Inventory.

Physical Description

(Boxes 21-23)

Meeting minutes, large volume, 1830-1884.
Box 21 Folder 1-3
Meeting minutes, large volume, 1898-1942.
Box 22 Folder 1-3
Meeting minutes, large volume, 1884-1898.
Box 23 Folder 1

Subseries a. . Annual French Society Ball. (Box 24, Folders 1-13).
Subseries description

To raise funds, from the years 1847-1861, The French Benevolent Society hosted an Annual Ball at the Music Fund Hall. It became one of the most anticipated events of each season, coming in late January or early February, breaking up the long Philadelphia winters. Information pertaining to each ball was housed in a separate envelope, with the exception of the fourth ball in 1850, whose envelope was lost or misplaced. The other 13 balls are arranged chronologically in Folder 1-13. Contained in these folders is largely correspondence related to the organization of the Balls--bills from local caterers; invoices from print shops for the printing of dance cards and invitations; advertising fees from the local English and French newspapers. Also included is information on ticket sales and totals, including revenue earned from each ball. The total funds raised is generally written on the original envelope, all of which have been retained or photocopied and included in the corresponding folder.

Physical Description

(Box 24, Folders 1-13)

1st Ball, 1847.
Box 24 Folder 1
2nd Ball, 1848.
Box 24 Folder 2
3rd Ball, 1849.
Box 24 Folder 3
5th Ball, 1851.
Box 24 Folder 4
6th Ball, 1852.
Box 24 Folder 6
7th Ball, 1854.
Box 24 Folder 6
8th Ball, 1855.
Box 24 Folder 7
9th Ball, 1856.
Box 24 Folder 8
10th Ball, 1857.
Box 24 Folder 9
11th Ball, 1858.
Box 24 Folder 10
12th Ball, 1858.
Box 24 Folder 11
13th Ball, 1860.
Box 24 Folder 12
14th Ball, 1861.
Box 24 Folder 13
Subseries b. . Other events. (Box 24, Folders 14-15).
Subseries description

Included in Folders 14 and 15 are materials from the Society's two Musical Concerts, both held at the Musical Fund Hall. These Concerts seem to have been an attempt to take the place of the Annual Ball (perhaps due to the Civil War) during 1862 and 1863, and appear to have been well attended. Folder 16 contains materials generated from a Theatre Matinee in 1871. The was apparently a controversial event because the actress donated the proceeds of the show to the French Benevolent Society without the consent of the Theatre owner himself. The news editorials concerning the event are included.

Physical Description

(Box 24, Folders 14-15)

Music Fund Hall Concert, 1862.
Box 24 Folder 14
2nd Music Fund Hall Concert, 1863.
Box 24 Folder 15
Theatre Matinee, 1871.
Box 24 Folder 16
Subseries c. . Memorabilia. (Box 24, Folders 17-19).
Subseries description

Folder 17 includes subscription booklets from the 13th-15th Ball and also for the two concerts. Folders 18 and 19 are the highlight of the series--two scrapbooks from the Balls and Concerts, including examples of the dance cards, invitations, and newspaper clippings concerning the events. It is a wonderful documentation of this Society tradition.

Physical Description

(Box 24, Folders 17-19)

Subscription books for 13th-15th Ball, concerts, 1860-1863.
Box 24 Folder 17
Scrapbook, 1847-1870.
Box 24 Folder 18-19

Series description

Conatined in Boxes 25 and 26 are ledgers documenting those the Society helped. The names and amounts are included from the years 1874-1913. These ledgers can be used to ascertain whether or not a person was helped by the Society.

Box 27, Folders 1-14 contain the correspondence from the Fatherless Children of France, French children who were adopted by French Benevolent Society, through the Franco-American Fraternity, because they had lost their father, and in some cases both parents, during the first World War. Comprising the correspondence are letters to the society from the children and their mothers, the reports from the field workers who kept case notes on these children, and notes as to which member of the society was responsible for the subscription of the child. The materail dates from 1917-1923; some children have larger files than others due to the length of time the society supported them.

Box 27, Folders 15-19, and Box 28 contain the folders of general society cases. People of French descent in need could petition the society for aid, but most often, the members of the society would recommend a person and the case would be examined. Also popular was petitioning the Society for help in finding employment or for use as a refernce when traveling to a new city. This correspondence is included in each person or family's folder. The folder list and ledgers should be checked to identify who was helped, and the notes written on the original correspondence for the action taken in each case.

List helped ledger, 1874-1898.
Box 25 Folder 1-2
List helped ledger, 1898-1913.
Box 26 Folder 1-2
Correspondence, circa 1919.
Box 27 Folder 1
Georges Duprez, 1917.
Box 27 Folder 2
Marie Lombard, 1919-1921.
Box 27 Folder 3
Marie-Louise Biolley, 1919-1921.
Box 27 Folder 4
Blanc Marius, 1917-1918.
Box 27 Folder 5
Marie-Louise Binvignat, 1917-1919.
Box 27 Folder 6
Emile Fay, 1921.
Box 27 Folder 7
Balmat children, 1921.
Box 27 Folder 8
Camille and Lea Atrux, 1918-1922.
Box 27 Folder 9
Jeanne Curtenaz, 1918.
Box 27 Folder 10
Louis Curtenaz, 1919-1921.
Box 27 Folder 11
Marie and Alice Baud, 1917-1922.
Box 27 Folder 12
Francis Aret, 1919.
Box 27 Folder 13
Madeleine Petiteau Sulileau, 1922-1923.
Box 27 Folder 14
Poirier, 1832.
Box 27 Folder 15
Jean LaFore--Ex President, 1919-1925.
Box 27 Folder 16
Mlle Petitjean, 1923-1924.
Box 27 Folder 17
Wives of French servicemen--lists, etc., 1914.
Box 27 Folder 18
Jeanna Gheysens, 1920-1924.
Box 27 Folder 19
Paul Dubois, 1914-1915.
Box 28 Folder 1-3
Augusta Douay, 1919-1924.
Box 28 Folder 4
Ernest Menet, 1919.
Box 28 Folder 5
Camille Demartelaere, 1914.
Box 28 Folder 6
Kassin, 1925.
Box 28 Folder 7
Angelica Carriere, 1921-1931.
Box 28 Folder 8-10
Mlle Pardon, 1924.
Box 28 Folder 11
William and Dora Treyer, 1925.
Box 28 Folder 12
Mme Marteau, undated.
Box 28 Folder 13
Mme Lafaye, 1914.
Box 28 Folder 14
Jean Roussel, 1923.
Box 28 Folder 15
Augusta Gaillaux, 1925.
Box 28 Folder 16
Barbara Bastian, 1915.
Box 28 Folder 17
Marie Grieumaud, 1915.
Box 28 Folder 18
Mme Bruder, 1923.
Box 28 Folder 19
Joseph Duval, 1924.
Box 28 Folder 20
Mme Oliver Auger, 1922.
Box 28 Folder 21
Renee Russier, 1913.
Box 28 Folder 22
Camille Therien, 1925.
Box 28 Folder 23
Edmond Delamotte, 1899.
Box 28 Folder 24
Francois Dubois, 1915.
Box 28 Folder 25
Victor Eckhart, 1921.
Box 28 Folder 26
Henrietta Jones, 1941.
Box 28 Folder 27
Mme Gurley, 1939.
Box 28 Folder 28
Mme Mouilleseaux, 1937.
Box 28 Folder 29
Mlle Ouvard, 1929-1930.
Box 28 Folder 30
Jean Baptiste Pycke, 1941.
Box 28 Folder 31
Henri Overkamp, 1924.
Box 28 Folder 32
Jean Guerre a.k.a. Jean Victor Pierrat, 1925.
Box 28 Folder 33
Auguste Bourbon, 1924.
Box 28 Folder 34
Alexis Marie Tournellec, 1915.
Box 28 Folder 35
George Henri LaLande, 1907.
Box 28 Folder 36
Alfred Dupuis, 1912.
Box 28 Folder 37
Georges Fournier, 1909.
Box 28 Folder 38
Smaller cases, 1918-1940.
Box 28 Folder 39
Series VII. . Printed and other ephemera.
Box 29
Subseries description

Items in this series were kept in this Box when their use was questionable or their context unclear, but not to an extent that separating the item to the Library, Museum or to a Photo collection seemed appropriate. See collection folder for a list of items included.

Print, Suggest