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Benjamin Sharp Family Papers


Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. 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

Benjamin Sharp (1858-1915), a zoologist who was primarily affiliated with the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, attended Swarthmore College (1876) and earned a M.D. and Ph. D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Travelling and studying in Europe, he received a second Ph.D. from the University of Wurzburg, Bavaria in 1883.

A birthright member of the Society of Friends (Quakers), Dr. Sharp was the son of Benjamin and Hannah B. (Leedom) Sharp of the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pa. He worked as a professor of zoology at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and later at the University of Pennsylvania, and also traveled extensively, to Europe, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and the Arctic circle. He served as Corresponding Secretary of the Academy of Natural Sciences for eleven years.

Sharp was married in 1881 to Virginia May of Ridley, Massachusetts, and had three children, two sons, Karl and Harold, and a daughter, Dorothy. Sharp was a member of the Green Street Monthly Meeting of Philadelphia. Sharp and his family moved to Massachusetts (Brookline and Nantucket) in his last ten years. There he was elected as representative for Nantucket to the Massachusetts Legislature and served as vice-president of the Nantucket Historical Association. He died in 1915.

The collection consists primarily of correspondence from friends and colleagues, memorabilia from Swarthmore College, and family materials, including the diary of Rebecca Sharp.

The collection is divided into five series:

  1. Biographical and genealogical
  2. Benjamin Sharp correspondence
  3. Swarthmore College, 1875-1879
  4. Family papers, including the diary of Rebecca Sharp
  5. Miscellaneous

Donor: Virginia S. Richmond, 1989

A group of books originally included in the collection were noted and recatalogued.

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
FHL staff
Finding Aid Date
Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Friends Historical Library believes all of the items in this collection to be in the Public Domain in the United States, and is not aware of any restrictions on their use. However, the user is responsible for making a final determination of copyright status before reproducing. See

Collection Inventory

General records.
Box 1
Guild and Dodd Families, Charts.
Box 1
Hutton [Janney] Family, compiled by S. Janney Hutton, 1970.
Box 1
Physical Description


Scope and Contents

Letters include a description of the first elephant born in captivity (at the Philadelphia zoo), 3/23/1880, and events surrounding the death and funeral of Lucretia Mott, 12/28/1880.

From Benjamin Sharp to his grandparents, 1871.
Box 1
To Benjamin Sharp, 1871-May 1876.
To Benjamin Sharp, June 1876-1878.
Box 1
To Benjamin Sharp, 1879-1885.
Box 1
To Virginia (May) Sharp, 1877-1915.
Box 1
To Hannah Leedom, calling cards, ca. 1855.
Box 1

Event Announcements, 1875-1879.
Box 2
"`78 Class Paper", dated May 25, 1875.
Box 2
Benjamin Sharp's book, autographs of students, 1875-1876.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Also includes moss from the graves of W. Penn, I. Pennington, and Th. Ellwood, dated 1831.

Diary and memorials of Rebecca Sharp, 1853.
Box 2
Benjamin Sharp.
Box 2
Family miscellany, including almanacs and wedding announcements.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Almanacs dated 1809 and 1831.

Signed title pages (photocopies) of books removed from collection.
Box 2

Box 2
"Charter and Bylaws of Tirard Woolen Manufacturers.".
Box 2
Miscellaneous Material.
Box 2

Print, Suggest