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Richards Family Collection


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center [Contact Us]3401 Market Street, Suite 210, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center. 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 Webb Richards was the son of Benjamin Moore Richards, a Welsh-born tailor living in the rear of a Lombard Street townhouse. Neither Thomas nor his brother, William Trost Richards, enjoyed formal education beyond the year 1846, but both apparently demonstrated early artistic genius. William Trost was later to become a well-known marine artist, while Thomas apprenticed with Samuel Sloan, one of Philadelphia's leading architects in the mid-nineteenth century. In Sloan's office Thomas obtained excellent training while attending courses and participating in exhibitions at the Franklin Institute. By 1854, Thomas believed he could establish his own practice and left Sloan and Philadelphia for opportunities in Ohio.

The advantages, however, were not abundant enough to keep Thomas in Columbus; he returned home and was listed in the Philadelphia city directory of 1856 as an architect, sharing his brother's studio at 816 Walnut Street. The financial crash of 1857 left him unlisted. Little is known of his career between 1857 and 1860; presumably he was working in Philadelphia and successful enough to win an appointment as an Associate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. By 1861 he had two architectural projects, Trinity Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and the National Bank of Commerce in Baltimore, and in 1862 he had become associated with William Murdock in Baltimore. The Civil War created a demand for hospitals while decreasing the demand for other types of buildings, and in 1863 he moved to New York to render hospital drawings for Calvert Vaux.

Frustrated by the lack of opportunity, Richards almost turned to a career in photography. In 1868 John Sartain recommended Richards for the first teaching position in Drawing at the University of Pennsylvania, and thus began Richards' long association with the University. He competed successfully for the position of Architect for what became College Hall, constructed in 1871-1872. Instrumental in developing the architecture program at the University, Richards was appointed Professor of Drawing and Architecture in 1874, and he remained on the faculty until 1890. In addition to his pedagogical contributions to the University, Richards also served as the architect of Logan Hall (1874) and the Robert Hare Laboratory of Chemistry (1877).

Horace Clark Richards was born in 1868 to Thomas Webb and Henriette Adele (Hadry) Richards. He entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1884 and earned the A.B. degree in 1888. That same year, he enrolled in graduate school at Penn and received a Ph.D. in Physics in 1891. He also studied at Johns Hopkins University from 1890-1892. As a student at Penn, Richards won the Matriculate Greek prize of first rank, the Freshman Greek prize and the Junior Greek prize. He also won the first place Junior Mathematical prize. He was Editor and Business Manager of the student newspaper, The Pennsylvanian, and moderator of the Philomathean Society, a student literary organization. Additionally, he acted the part of Megrian in "The Acharnians," an ancient Greek tragedy, produced by the University in 1886.

With the exception of a one-year appointment at Byrn Mawr in 1892-93, Richards spent his career at Penn. He was a Tyndale Fellow in Physics 1890-1892; Instructor in Physics, 1890-1903; Assistant Professor of Physics, 1903-1909; Professor of Mathematical Physics, 1909-1938; Director of the Randal Morgan Laboratory of Physics; 1931-1938 and Professor Emeritus, 1938-1945.

He was a member of the American Philosophical Society, the Franklin Institute and the American Physical Society, among others. He died at age 78 on May 20, 1945. He was married to Annie Gardiner of Philadelphia. They had two children: Horace Gardiner Richards and Marie Ann Richards.

The Thomas Webb Richards series (1850-1919) pertains to Thomas' role in the construction of buildings for the University of Pennsylvania campus, including College Hall and Medical Hall and for the Northminster Church in West Philadelphia. The series also contains floor plans of the College building and Medical building on the University's Ninth Street campus. The Photographs series (undated) contains a glass plate negative of Richards. The Publications series (1819-1872) contains select volumes of the publication The Builders Assistant and publications relating to the dedication of the University's College Hall in 1872.

The Horace Clark Richards series (1871-1944) pertains to Horace's involvement in the University of Pennsylvania as a student and as a professor and alumnus. His activities included membership in the Philomathean Society, the Alumni Society, Sigma Xi, Phi Beta Kappa and a cast member of the play "The Acharnians." The collection also contains a certificate of membership to the Franklin Institute in 1925.

Three series comprise the Thomas Webb Richards Record Group: Papers, Photographs and Publications. All three are arranged chronologically. The Horace Clark Richards Record Group contains one series, Papers, that is arranged chronologically.

"Mrs. Horace T. Richards," probably the widow of Horace Clark Richards, donated the papers of both Horace Clark Richards and his father, Thomas Webb Richards, in several small installments, from November 1945 to May 1946.

University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center
Finding Aid Author
DiAnna L. Hemsath
Finding Aid Date
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Collection Inventory

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"Notes on Architecture" by Thomas Webb Richards, 1850.
Box 1 Folder 1
Miscellaneous papers not concerning University buildings, 1850-1909.
Box 1 Folder 2
Franklin Institute Report of 23rd exhibition of American Manufacturers, 1853.
Box 1 Folder 3
Franklin Institute Award for Richards' architectural skill, 1853.
Box 1 Folder 4
Miscellaneous correspondence not concerning University buildings, 1860.
Box 1 Folder 5
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts membership certificate, 1862.
Box 1 Folder 6
Correspondence and other papers relating to construction of College Hall, 14 January 1870 - 5 October 1872.
Box 1 Folder 7
Papers relating to College Hall cornerstone laying and inauguration, 15 June 1871 - 11 October 1872.
Box 1 Folder 8
Articles of Agreement and specifications for College Hall, Medical Hall, and University Hospital, 1871-1875.
Box 1 Folder 9
Correspondence and notes relating to the construction of Medical Hall and the University Hospital, May 1872 - June 1888.
Box 1 Folder 10
Correspondence relating to memorial windows in College Hall, 1872.
Box 1 Folder 11
Northminster Church, West Philadelphia, 1875.
Box 1 Folder 12
Correspondence and notes relating to Civil War monument in chapel, August 1877 - September 1879.
Box 1 Folder 13
Tribute to Thomas Webb Richards by Warren Powers Laird, 1909.
Box 1 Folder 14
Papers relating to the death of Thomas W. Richards, 20 Feburary 1911.
Box 1 Folder 15
Programs and articles relating to the Richards memorial, 1919.
Box 1 Folder 16
College Hall engraving and plate, n.d.
Box 1 Folder unknown container
Envelope and card, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 18
Floorplans of Ninth Street medical building - a study showing use of space , n.d.
Box 1 Folder 19
Floorplans of Ninth Street college building - a study showing use of space, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 20
Plans of Elevation for University buildings, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 21
Glass Plate negative of Professor T.W. Richards, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 22
The Builders Assistant; Vol. II - Nos. I and V, 1819.
Box 1 Folder 23
The Builders Assistant; Vol. III - Nos. II, III, IV, V, 1820-1821.
Box 1 Folder 24
Proceedings at the Inauguration of the Building-Arts and Sciences, 11 October 1872.
Box 1 Folder 25
University of Pennsylvania Inauguration, 11 October 1872.
Box 1 Folder 26

Miscellaneous circular material pertaining to the University, 1871-1931.
Box 1 Folder 27
Circular material of the Alumni Society, 1873-1941.
Box 1 Folder 28
Invitations, programs, publications, etc. of the Philomathean Society, 1874-1896.
Box 1 Folder 29
Franklin Scientific Society lectures, announcements and tickets, 1876-1888.
Box 1 Folder 30
University public lectures, announcements and tickets, 1879-1894.
Box 1 Folder 31
Correspondence, matriculation cards and other miscellaneous material, 1884-1944.
Box 1 Folder 32
Tickets and programs, Acharnians production, 1886.
Box 1 Folder 33
Newspaper clippings, Acharnians production, 1886.
Box 1 Folder 34
Script, The Acharnians, 1886.
Box 1 Folder 35
Notes concerning the Tyndale Fellowship, 1890.
Box 1 Folder 36
Announcements and form letters regarding Phi Beta Kappa, 1897-1909.
Box 1 Folder 37
Programs, booklets, etc. relating to the Society of Sigma Xi, 1900-1944.
Box 1 Folder 38
Membership, Franklin Institute, 1925.
Box 1 Folder 39
Cards containing bibliography and other notes.
Box 1 Folder 40

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