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Upsala Foundation (Philadelphia, Pa.) records


Held at: Cliveden of the National Trust [Contact Us]6401 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19144

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Cliveden of the National Trust. 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

Built in 1798, Upsala is a historic house located on Germantown Avenue in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although the home as it is seen today post-dates the American Revolutionary War, the land on which Upsala is situated served as a staging ground for American forces mounting an attack on the British troops stationed at Cliveden, the home across the street, during the Battle of Germantown in 1777.

John Johnson III (1748-1810), inherited from his grandfather, John Johnson Sr. (1709-1794), the property on which Upsala would be built. In the late 1790s, John Johnson III built an addition onto the rear portion of the house, which had been built around 1740 or 1745. The addition, completed in 1798, was constructed in the Federal architectural style and became the front facade of the home. The house was named "Upsala" by John Johnson III's wife after a town in Sweden associated with novelist and feminist Frederika Bremer, of whom Mrs. Johnson was a great admirer.

In 1942, the roof of Upsala was damaged in a fire and the house was slated for demolition in 1943. The Upsala Foundation was established in 1943 to acquire, restore, and maintain Upsala as a historical and architectural monument. In 1944, the Upsala Foundation acquired ownership of the house, and the Trustees and the Women's Committee for Upsala became responsible for the maintenance of the house.

The Upsala Foundation approached Cliveden, Inc. in 2000 about a possible merger. During 2004 and early 2005, the Upsala Foundation was dissolved, transferring ownership of the house and its contents to Cliveden, Inc.


Independence Hall Association. "Upsala." 2013. Accessed September 8, 2015.

Documents viewed in the collection.

This collection consists of financial records, administrative records, programming and event materials, maintenance files, scrapbooks, and photographs that document Upsala and the Upsala Foundation. Although there are a few documents from the 18th and 19th centuries, the bulk of the collection dates from 1944 to 2005.

Financial records, 1950-1975, 2003-2005, consist of account books, bills, written notes, tax returns, treasurer reports, donation books, and contribution and pledge records. Administrative records include minutes from the Board of Trustees, 1944-2000, and minutes from the Women's Committee, 1944-1948, as well as copies of the Foundation's constitution and bylaws, membership lists, correspondence, and visitor books, 1950s-1980s. Materials relating to events and programs at Upsala consist of flyers, advertisements, brochures, contracts, newspaper clippings, press releases, and interpretive materials. Maintenance records for Upsala include receipts, reports, contracts, correspondence, and a Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) Survey that includes an assessment of the building and collections. There are materials relating to the merger of the Upsala Foundation and Cliveden of the National Trust in 2004-2005. Photographs in the collection consist of photographic prints and negatives depicting Upsala and events that took place there. There are also images that were used for publicity. There are a few postcards depicting the interior and exterior of Upsala. The collection also contains scrapbooks with photographs and newspaper clippings relating to Upsala events and the home's architecture, 1950s-1992.

Oversized materials in the collection include technical drawings, floor plans, renovation plans, technical drawings of staircase and landscapes, blueprints, and photographs mounted on foam core.

Original documents of special interest in the collection include marriage certificates from 1773 and 1801, and a membership certificate for a John Johnson in the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture (1818).

Acquired by Cliveden, Inc., circa 2004-2005, upon the dissolution of the Upsala Foundation

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Cliveden of the National Trust directly for more information.

Cliveden of the National Trust
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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