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Thomas Shipley Brown 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

Thomas Shipley Brown (1912-2011), of Cheltenham Pennsylvania, was first admitted to Westtown School, a prominent Quaker boarding school in Chester County, Pa. in September of 1921 and graduated in 1929. He returned to Westtown and began teaching Bible and Latin in September of 1936, and taught until he went on leave during the 1948-1949 school year for involvement with the world Council of Churches, London Yearly Meeting, and the American Friends Service Committee. He returned to teaching at Westtown in 1953, and served as a teacher of Latin and English until his retirement in June of 1963. He was a General Committee member of long standing, nearly until his death. His service as the Executive Secretary of Friends Council on Education and as Clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting led him into the teaching of Quaker thought, life and practices to adults at conferences, retreats and adult classes, as well as to teachers and administrators at Friends Schools.

This collections is largely made up of Thomas Shipley Brown's writings on Quakerism and materials from his involvement with several Quaker organizations, especially Quaker educational institutions (including Westtown). It is comprised of two lots and two additions. The first lot consists primarily of papers that date from Brown's professional life as an educator and simultaneous involvement with Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) groups. The second lot consists mainly of papers Brown wrote while a student at Haverford College and Union Theological Seminary, or written and collected by him in the 1960s and 1970s. The first addition includes six letters received by John G. Arnold, who lived with the Brown family for a time. Finally, the second addition includes various personal and posthumous Thomas Shipley Brown materials, including his diplomas, condolences sent to his wife upon his death, articles and papers written by him, and other miscellaneous materials.

For the most part, the collection is still arranged in the order in which it was received. More detailed finding aids or inventories for each segment of the collection are available on-site.

The first lot includes files used by Thomas S. Brown while a teacher, General Committee member, and member of the alumni community at Westtown School; a graduate student at Union Theological Seminary; Headmaster at Olney Friends School, Barnesville Ohio; the Executive Secretary of the Friends Council on Education; the Clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting; a member of the PYM committee revising Faith and Practice (1997); and while a visiting teacher and speaker at monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings of Friends and Friends Schools in the Eastern and Midwestern United States and in England.

The earliest item in the first lot is a copy of the 1946 Amicus (Westtown yearbook), which was dedicated in part to Brown. The most recent are files on Westtown School Committee business for the 2004-2005 school year. The files include many handwritten notes for talks, articles, and workshop plans, as well as original typescripts of public addresses and magazine articles, some of them with handwritten corrections and additions. The earliest group of files includes materials gathered in the 1950s while Brown was a graduate student at the Union Theological Seminary. Another large group of files spread throughout the years are connected with Quaker membership consultations, Quaker leadership workshops, clerking, and decision-making workshops. These include correspondence with Michael Sheeran, the author of a well-known 1980s book on consensus decision making, and Sheeran's Princeton dissertation on the same subject. Other larger bodies of files include papers of the Westtown General Committee and materials from Kendal at Longwood, a Quaker retirement community to which Brown retired.

The second lot includes files of material written by Thomas S. Brown while a student at Haverford College and Union Theological Seminary, and written or collected by him in the 1960s and 1970s when a writer and speaker on Quakerism. Besides the autograph fan which was probably passed down in the family from the turn of the 20th century, and (possibly) Brown's typescript, "Johnsoniana" (no date), the earliest material in this lot includes his typewritten notes of English courses taken in the 1930s. It also includes a short story written by him for the Haverfordian. Two essays Brown wrote in the 1940s for courses at Union Seminary are also included here. One is an essay written for Professor Reinhold Niebuhr, and includes Niebuhr's note to Brown on the title page. The rest of the files are either addresses written by Brown about Quakerism or school trusteeship, or are materials he gathered when a leader of conferences at such places as Pendle Hill (Quaker Center for Study and Contemplation, Wallingford, Pa.).

The first addition includes six letters written between 1978 and 2003 by Thomas and Nan Brown to John G. Arnold and his wife Ruth, who came to Westtown from a Bruderhof community in Paraguay. Arnold entered Westtown as a student in 1954 and graduated in 1956, and lived with the Brown family for a time. The addition also includes two articles from the Brown & White that discuss or mention him, and two articles on the Bruderhof community, which was founded by Eberhart Arnold, possibly a relation of John G. Arnold.

Gifts of Thomas Shipley Brown, 2005 (acc. 2005.25); T.S. Brown's daughter Mary Alice Brown-James, 2007 (acc. 2007.07); and other additions.

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.

Westtown School Archives
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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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