Jane Wright Proctor Wallis family papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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
Jane Wright Proctor Wallis (1875-1956) was born in Philadelphia to Sarah Jane Wright and prominent businessman Josiah Kendall Proctor. She was a nurse, trained at Dr. Joseph Price's Training School for Nurses and employed at the U.S. Army Hospital at the Presidio in San Francisco, before she married Allan Dinsmore Wallis (1873-1958) in 1903. They eventually settled in Malvern, Pennsylvania and summered in Ocean City, New Jersey. Originally from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Allan D. Wallis moved to Philadelphia working as a successful agent for Equitable Life Insurance of Iowa. Jane and Allan had ten children: Allan Dinsmore Wallis, Jr. (1905-1963), Prudence Wright Wallis (1906-2000), Josiah Kendall Wallis (1907-1983), Morgan Roos Wallis (1908-1991), Jane Proctor Wallis (1909-1977), Calvin Proctor Wallis (1910-2000), Elizabeth Wallis (1912-1999), Honoria Peckens Wallis (1915-1987), Mary Priscilla Wallis (1915-1982), and Sarah Wright Wallis (1916-2016). All of their children were college educated, and Allan Jr., Kendall, and Calvin attended the University of Pennsylvania for medical school. During World War II, Kendall was commissioned into the Army Air Medical Corps, and Roos accepted a commission in the U.S Naval Reserves. Both remained stateside for the duration of the war; however, their sister Honoria was part of the European theater serving as a medical social worker with the Red Cross.
Jane Wright Proctor Wallis was active in many organizations, including the American Mother's Committee of the Golden Rule Fellowship, where she served on the board. She was awarded Pennsylvania Mother of the Year in 1946. Jane and Allan were also active members of the Philadelphia Union League as well in the Presbyterian Church, where Allan was designated as a church elder. The collection illustrates the family's strong emphasis on piety and the importance of the Church in their everyday lives.
Genealogical research and family publishing was a hallmark of the extended Proctor family, perhaps because of the family's pride in Josiah Kendall Proctor (1848-1920) and his "rags to riches" story. Born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts in 1848, J.K. Proctor was forced to stop formal schooling at the age of nine to work as a result of his father's death. He was indentured to the C.G. Sargent Company in 1861, but soon enlisted, at age fourteen, to be a drummer boy in the 2nd Regiment Massachusetts Heavy Artillery for the duration of the Civil War. By 1870, Proctor was living in Philadelphia to pursue his own business ventures. He married Sara Jane Wright (1848-1920) of Groton, Massachusetts in 1873, and their daughter Jane was born in 1875. Another daughter, Katherine, was born in 1884. That same year, J.K. Proctor started the Philadelphia Textile Machine Company with business partner Charles W. Schwartz. Additionally, he created the Proctor Electric Company. The two companies merged in 1920 to form Proctor and Schwartz Electric Company which was known for inventing the first pop-up toaster, electric glass coffeemaker, automatic iron, and other home and kitchen appliances. Forty years after Josiah Kendall Proctor's death, the company would become known as the Proctor-Silex Corporation (Proctor Silex, Company History).
Jane's sister, Katherine Proctor (1884-1969), married renowned stained glass artist, Lawrence B. Saint and they were the parents of eight children. Many of their children—most notably Rachael (1914-1994) and Nate (1923-1956)— went on to become Evangelical Christian missionaries in Ecuador, working to convert indigenous tribes.
Born in 1885 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Lawrence B. Saint spent his youth learning to paint from his father Joseph, and working in a wallpaper shop to learn color theory. As a teenager, Saint was offered an apprenticeship at the Rudy Brothers Stained Glass Company, which lasted three years before he entered the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1905 to study painting (Berberian, The Mystery of Stained Glass). After spending a year in Europe researching medieval stained glass design and techniques, Saint returned to the United States, where he built a glass workshop in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. Said to have uncovered 1,500 color formulas dating back to the 13th century, Saint was renowned for crafting the many shades of glass found in his artful windows (Time, Saint's Saints). After creating a series of stained glass for the cathedral in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, he was commissioned to start work on more than twenty windows for the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., also serving as the head of the stained glass department for seven years (Berberian,The Mystery of Stained Glass). Lawrence B. Saint published his notes and color formulae in The Romance of Stained Glass (Box 15 Folder 6), in 1959. He died in 1961, and is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Berberian, Martha Saint. The Mystery of Stained Glass: the story of Lawrence B. Saint: the secret of how glass of the ancient European cathedrals was reproduced in our century through the unflagging persistence of artist Lawrence B. Saint. Guatemala, Central America: M.S. Berberian, 1998. (Box 15 Folder 7).
"Company History." Proctor Silex. https://www.proctorsilex.com/company-history.html.
"Saint's Saints." Time 28, no.3 (July 20, 1936): 47. Time Magazine Archive, EBSCOhost.
The Jane Wright Proctor Wallis family papers provide a unique glimpse into the family life of an upper class Philadelphia family during the early twentieth century through correspondence, family letters, scrapbooks, photographs, and genealogical anthologies. Centrally revolving around Jane Wright Proctor Wallis, this collection reveals her pride in the history and genealogy of the Proctor Wallis family across its many generations. The collection is arranged in five series: I. Jane Wright Proctor and Allan Dinsmore Wallis; II. Josiah Kendall Proctor; III. Genealogical materials; IV. Photographs; and V. Other family correspondence and materials.
Series I. contains the bulk of materials within the collection and this material was collected and created by Jane Wright Proctor and her husband Allan Dinsmore Wallis. Researchers will find correspondence, scrapbooks, material related to the couple's fiftieth anniversary, family documents and ledgers, and clippings and ephemera. The correspondence is arranged in chronological order, primarily addressed to or sent by Jane, with only a few letters from Allan. Copies of letters which were sent to all of their children are very common throughout the collection. In 1911, Jane Wright Proctor Wallis began an annual tradition of writing a Christmas letter which was sent to friends and family. The annual Christmas letter may be an excellent place for the start of research as each family member's activities is summarized in a short paragraph. From there, researchers may wish to consult correspondence, scrapbooks, and other family members' material from the same timeframe. The Jane Wright Proctor Wallis scrapbooks primarily document the Proctor Wallis family life and range in date from 1886 to 1956, with the bulk dating from the 1920s to the 1950s. Additional materials within the series document the 50th wedding anniversary party for Jane Wright Proctor Wallis and Allan Dinsmore Wallis, miscellaneous family documents, and historical clippings and ephemera which were not part of a designated scrapbook. Researchers interested in Jane Wright Proctor Wallis and her children should consult this series as well as Series V. For more detailed information on Series I, please consult the note within the container list.
Series II. consists of materials directly relating to Josiah Kendall Proctor, Jane's father. Business ledgers, papers regarding the Philadelphia Textile Machine Company, and financial documents, including information about the Proctor Trust fund, can be found within this series. Additionally, miscellaneous artifacts belonging to J.K. Proctor, which include his Civil War discharge certificate, are also located in the series. Genealogical information and anthologies involving Josiah Kendall Proctor are found in series III.
Series III. contains genealogical research, resources, and anthologies created by the extended Proctor Wallis family. The anthologies are family-created documents made from photocopies of many of the materials found within this collection, and include correspondence, photographs, and articles. Also found within the series are recollections written by Jane Wright Proctor Wallis regarding her parents. Prior to donating the collection, family members organized and scanned materials. The CDs and a printed copy of the inventory are included in the collection (Box 11, Folder 13). Researchers should be aware that the arrangement of this inventory does not correspond to that listed in this finding aid.
Series IV. contains a large collection of family photographs, ranging from the mid-19th century through the 1950s. Arranged by name when possible, photographs also contain many family group photos. The Wallis children were regularly photographed in a row, in order of birth, providing an annual look at the Wallis family children over time. There is significant duplication of photographs; the same photograph will often appear within the photographs series as well as in the scrapbooks and genealogical anthologies. Photographs of the Wallis's various residences are also included; some with annotation or other corresponding materials relating to the house.
Series V. includes correspondence and materials from the extended members of the Proctor Wallis family. Materials created by or about Jane and Allan's ten children are found here. This series contains many legal documents, wills, scrapbooks, academic work, artifacts, and materials from various family reunions. Of particular interest may be the two scrapbooks created by Mary Wallis, a student at Friends' Central and Smith College. These volumes document her education, her activities in the Girl Scouts of America, the American Red Cross, her family and social life, and her travels, some of which include trips to Canada, the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, and the Worlds' Fair in Chicago in 1933. Researchers interested in Jane Wright Proctor Wallis and her children should consult this series as well as Series I. Researchers will find materials regarding Lawrence B. Saint, who was renowned for his medieval stained glass techniques. A family-authored biography, as well as his personal published writings, are found within this series.
This collection will be of value to researchers interested in early 20th-century family life in America, the culture of domesticity, and the influence of the Protestant (Presbyterian) Church in everyday life. Additionally Series I. may be of interest to those researching the European Theater in World War II, as well as general United States history as experienced by American citizens in the first half of the 20th-century.
Gift of Stephen Wallis, 2016.
- Family histories
- Voyages and travels
- World War, 1939-1945
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Women
- Manners and customs
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Alexis Morris
- Finding Aid Date
- 2017 August 9
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.