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Gibson family papers


Held at: Old York Road Historical Society [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Old York Road 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 Gibson family had a long association with eastern Montgomery County and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania beginning with Frederick Pepper who established an estate "Fair Acres" in Abington in the later half of the nineteenth century. His daughter Susan Worrell Pepper Gibson (Mrs. J. Howard) established a residence, "Fairy Hill," on a piece of the estate after the deaths of her father and husband. Her son continued to live on the property until circa 1975.

Henry Clay Gibson (1830-1891) was one of the wealthiest men in Philadelphia in his time. Through inheritance, a successful business, and investments Gibson was able to indulge liberally in collecting art and philanthropic causes.

Henry Clay Gibson's son, J. Howard Gibson, lived from about 1855 until about 1894. His grandson, Henry C. Gibson, Jr., born circa 1922, established a firm to explore commercial uses of atomic energy in Palm Beach, Florida.

The material in this collection primarily concerns John Howard Gibson and his father Henry Clay Gibson, with some material on other family members. It consists mostly of family scrapbooks and memorabilia.

Henry C. Gibson's (1830-1891) scrapbook, 1855-1891, contains a wide range of letters, invitations, clippings, photographs and other memorabilia reflecting his business, civic, and personal interests. Some examples of many subjects covered are: his residences at 43rd and Walnut Streets (including floor plans), 1612 Walnut Street, and "Maybrook" in Wynnewood; the 1887 Constitutional Centennial; twelve mosaic medallions purchased for St. James Episcopal Church at 21st and Walnut Streets, including renderings of the medallions; the Poughkeepsie Bridge Company; and Confederate currency.

Gibson's son J. Howard Gibson (circa 1855- circa 1894) also kept a scrapbook covering the years 1874 when he entered the University of Pennsylvania until 1893. There are condolence letters on the death of his father and other letters, sketches, and notices relating to his travels and family.

Henry C. Gibson, Jr. (born circa 1922), J. Howard's grandson, carried on the scrapbook tradition which appears to cover a period from the 1930s into the 1950s, but includes items as early as 1761. His scrapbook is less ambitious than his predecessors', but there are several family photographs, including one of the Wynnewood estate.

Additional family memorabilia consist of sale catalogs for family postal covers and stamp collections, an autobiographical sketch by Mary Gibson Henry (Mrs. J. Norman), a noted horticulturist residing in Gladwyn, and other publications.

Gift of Henry C. Gibson, Jr., 2012; additional materials given in 2014

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 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 Old York Road Historical Society directly for more information.

Old York Road Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using data provided by the Old York Road Historical Society.
This preliminary finding aid was created by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) using data provided by the Old York Road Historical Society. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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