Woodlands Cemetery Company records
Held at: Woodlands Mansion and Cemetery [Contact Us]4000 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Woodlands Mansion and Cemetery. 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 grounds on which Woodlands Cemetery now stands were once owned by the Hamiltons, a family of colonial lawyers and politicians. William Hamilton inherited over 300 acres of land in 1766 at the age of 21, and built a mansion which still stands today.
"Woodlands Cemetery Company of Philadelphia was founded in 1840 with the stated goal that 'the beautiful landscape and scenery of that situation [Hamilton's estate] may be perpetually preserved,' rescuing the site from imminent industrial use and the later residential development of West Philadelphia's 'streetcar suburb.' Hamilton's cultivated landscape was transformed into a 'rural cemetery,' with winding carriage-ways and highly individualized monuments. Thousands of evergreens were planted among existing species to enhance the setting. Today's landscape is a virtual arboretum that includes seven aged but magnificent English elms and fifteen trees that qualify for State Champion status.
"Woodlands Cemetery became a favorite destination for Victorian outings. Today it continues to be visited as a green space and as a resting place for over 30,000 people, including many of the city and region's notable families and most accomplished individuals. Among them are architect Paul Philippe Cret (1876-1945), financier Francis Martin Drexel (1792-1863), artist Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), abolitionist Mary Grew (1813-96), surgeon Samuel Gross (1805-84), and Commodore David Porter (1780-1843). [Porter was the Woodlands' first interment--he was reburied there in 1845.] Woodlands Cemetery remains active, offering a wide array of burial options."
The Woodlands Trust for Historic Preservation was founded in 1998 to preserve and interpret the historic Hamilton mansion and Woodlands landscape.
Quoted text from: The Woodlands. "Cemetery Company." Accessed April 17, 2012. http://www.woodlandsphila.org/cemetery_history.php.
This collection is comprised of administrative and financial records of the Woodlands Cemetery Company, extensive interment records, and some architectural drawings and lot maps.
Administrative and financial records make up a large portion of the collection. Most of the financial records date from about 1960 to 2000, and include records such as: bills paid and received, insurance records, tax and audit records, cancelled checks, bank statements; and payroll and health insurance records. There is a small amount of older financial records as well--financial journals from the 1930s, and receipts from the 1890s to the 1920s.
The administrative records in this collection include: operating records, real estate records, annual meeting plans, strategic planning, building maintenance, capital improvement projects, house tours, and a small amount of correspondence. Many of the administrative records appear to have emanated from the office of Philip Price Jr., a board member of the Woodlands Cemetery Company. Among the administrative records, of special interest are some work permit cards charting maintenance work performed on plots and throughout the property, circa 1960s.
The collection also includes detailed interment records in the form of interment permits, interment cards, and lot registers. The lot registers, which are in chronological order, date from 1845 to 2012. The interment cards are organized alphabetically by last name, 1845-2012, and have been digitized. The interment permits are organized alphabetically by location, and date from the 1960s to the 1990s. There are also stubs from vault permit (bodies received), 1910-1947.
Finally, the collection contains architectural drawings of the mansion, lot maps, landscape/tree maps, and property surveys dating from about 1888 to 2007.
The archives of the Woodlands Cemetery Company are administered by the Woodlands Trust for Historic Preservation.
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2011-2012 as part of a pilot 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 Woodlands Trust for Historic Preservation directly for more information.
- Historic buildings--Conservation and restoration
- Historic sites--Conservation and restoration
- Woodlands Mansion and Cemetery
- 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.
- Access Restrictions
This collection contains relatively recent financial records, including payroll records that bear Social Security numbers, and these files are restricted to researchers for a limited time. Contact Woodlands Trust for Historic Preservation for more information about accessing this collection.