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Sinkler and Roosevelt family papers


Held at: Highlands Historical Society [Contact Us]7001 Sheaff Lane, Fort Washington, PA, 19034

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Highlands Historical Society. 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 Highlands was originally built for Anthony Morris (1766-1860), a lawyer and politician who served as speaker of the Pennsylvania Senate from 1793-1794. The home was built by Morris to escape the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia. The estate served as a farm and summer house for Morris and his family until it was sold to the Sheaff family in 1813.

Caroline Sidney Sinkler (1860-1949) was born on the Belvidere Plantation in Orange County, South Carolina. Sinkler purchased The Highlands from the Sheaff family in 1917. She resided year-round at the estate and made many improvements to it. She then sold the estate to her niece Emily Wharton Sinkler Roosevelt (1884-1970) in 1941. In 1916, Emily had married Nicholas Guy Roosevelt (1883-1965), third cousin to President Theodore Roosevelt. Emily Roosevelt later donated the property to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1957, retaining the right to occupy the property until her death. The state took over ownership after her death in 1970. The Highlands is now administered by The Highlands Historical Society.


Signs displayed at The Highlands, November 14, 2011.

The bulk of this collection is made up of the correspondence of Emily Wharton Sinkler Roosevelt and her husband Nicholas Guy Roosevelt. It also includes property plans, newspaper clippings, a handful of letters from Caroline Sinkler to Francis Allen (1939-1940), and other scattered correspondence. There are also a few photographic reproductions of paintings, and several copies of a family tree. Of special interest are a guest book also used as a journal, 1915-1945, and a few pieces of correspondence between William M. Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Nicholas Roosevelt's correspondence begins in 1892, continues through his schooling at St. Bartholomew's School and Princeton University, his engagement and marriage to Emily in 1916, and ends around 1930. A large proportion of the letters are from Nicholas to his mother, but there are letters to and from other correspondents as well. Most of Nicholas's letters are routine in topic and personal in tone.

Emily Wharton Sinkler's correspondence spans from 1902 to 1916, and consists mostly of letters received--many sent by Nicholas. There are also a few diaries in the collection from the same time. Emily traveled widely during this period, and her travels are frequently the focus of the letters and diary entries.

Materials found at The Highlands estate. Letters from Caroline Sinkler to Francis Allen, 1939-1940 were a gift of Sydney Tynan, 2007-2010.

Highlands Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza 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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