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William F. Wickersham family papers


Held at: Westtown School Archives [Contact Us]975 Westtown Road, West Chester, PA, 19382

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Westtown School Archives. 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

William F. Wickersham (1864-1927) served as the principal of Westtown School, a prominent Quaker boarding school in Chester County, Pennsylvania, from 1896 to 1913. Wickersham was admitted to Westtown School in 1877 and graduated in 1882. Immediately upon graduating Wickersham worked at the school, first as an assistant teacher (1882- 1886), and then as a full-time faculty member teaching English, Etymology, German, and Spelling (1886-1892). Wickersham also worked as bookkeeper for the school (1886-1888) and served as president of the Alumni Association (1896-1898).

William F. Wickersham's sisters, Anna E. Wickersham and Mary H. Wickersham (admitted in 1877 and 1881 respectively), also attended Westtown School, as did William F. Wickersham's son, Wilfred H. Wickersham (admitted in 1921). Related family members who also attended the school include Jamison L. Wickersham (admitted 1905) and Mary Ann Pyle and Margaret Pyle (both admitted in 1840).

The collection consists primarily of papers relating to William F. Wickersham's time at Westtown School as a student, teacher, and administrator. There are also some materials relating to his family members' time at Westtown, principally his son, Wilfred H. Wickersham.

Papers that document his time as a student include: notebooks, exercise books, essay books, and penmanship exercises; hand-drawn maps; a piece book with poetry and music; and sports items such as baseball score sheets, invitations to join teams, a notebook for tennis scores, and printed documents about skating and sledding.

The materials from Wickersham's time as a teacher and principal at Westtown include correspondence, administrative records, financial records, student records, addresses, reference materials for teaching, ephemera, pamphlets, and other printed items. The largest group of letters is the personal correspondence between Wickersham and Sarah Wilson, a family friend (1896-1921). There is also a significant amount of photocopied correspondence from 1907 to 1908 that is arranged in alphabetical order. An index exists for these letters. The largest portion of handwritten papers is Wickersham's essays written for the Westtown Literary Society.

Other materials include the following: miscellaneous handwritten letters and notes; receipts; school-day schedules; pocket-sized attendance and grade books; a record of faculty disciplinary meetings; Westtown Ice Cream Company account book (1887); a record of "First Day Morning Readings" (1881-1890); West Grove School Committee minutes and correspondence; other printed documents; brochures; calling cards; and typescripts of two of Wickersham's addresses delivered to the Friends Education Association. There are also pamphlets on Quaker subjects; published educational materials such as professional journals; a series of magazines about raising boys; information on courses at other institutions; items related to scientific activities at Westtown (including two notebooks recording meteorological data); three Westtown School calendars (1906-1908); and Westtown Alumni Association materials, such as programs, invitations, and a 1913 Class Book dedicated to Wickersham.

Papers relating to Wilfred H. Wickersham, William F. Wickersham's son, that document his time as a student at Westtown in the 1920s include: grade and conduct reports; correspondence between Principal George Jones and William F. Wickersham; incidental account reports; printed documents of the school; and handwritten notes.

Other miscellaneous items in the collection that relate to William F. Wickersham, his son Wilfred, and other Wickersham and related family members who attended Westtown School include: an unsigned, hand painted map of the Westtown school and farm (circa 1818); a hand-painted picture (on cloth) of the Westtown School building before 1813; Margaretta P. Wickersham's Westtown School diploma (1879); two autograph books of Mary Ann Pyle (1840 and 1849); two anonymous autograph books; and several exercise books and a drawing book by other family members.

The collection also includes a small collection of photographs, including: two albums, one of them with a series of pictures of the digging of the lake in 1911-1912; a photographic portrait of William F. Wickersham; and assorted other photographs. There are also two books: The Text Book for Domestic Practice (a handbook about homeopathic medicine), undated, and Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes, 1913 (a classroom copy sent as a gift to Wilfred H. Wickersham in 1982).

A more detailed finding aids with a container list is available on-site.

Gift of Edmund P. Wickersham, 2005 (accession 2005.15).

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 Westtown School Archives directly for more information.

Some items were separated from this collection and merged into photograph, book, pamphlet and artifact collections.

Westtown School Archives
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 Westtown School Archives
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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