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Asa M. Janney 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

Asa M. Janney (1802-1877) was the son of Abijah and Jane McPherson Janney of Loudoun and Fairfax Counties, Virginia. He was the younger brother of Samuel M. Janney (1801-1880), noted Quaker minister, educator, abolitionist, and author. Samuel M. Janney lived with his uncle Phineas Janney while attending school in Alexandria and attempted to run a cotton factory in Occoquan. When that failed, he opened the Springdale Boarding School in Loudoun County. Asa Janney traveled with his brother in the ministry, and the brothers shared a concern for the welfare of Native Americans. Asa served an Agent to Santee Sioux tribe in Nebraska, 1870-1871, when his brother was Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Superintendency.

Asa Janney married Lydia Neal Haines (1800-1891) in 1826 and operated a flour mill, Forest Mills, in Loudoun County. They were members of Goose Creek Monthly Meeting where Asa served as an Elder. Asa and Lydia had eight children: Mary Jane, Eliza, Ellen, Abijah, Cosmelia, Thamsin, Hugh, and Lydia Neal. Lydia Neal Janney (1844-1925) attended Earlham College and in 1866 married a Loudoun County neighbor, William Brown, a Quaker who owned property in nearby Circleville. They had three children: Thomas Janney Brown; Samuel who did not marry; and Cosmelia (Cossie) who married Daniel McPherson. The eldest, Thomas Janney Brown (1867-1951), graduated from Swarthmore College in 1888 and married Elsie Palmer. They were members of Goose Creek Monthly Meeting, Va., and had five children: Janet, Boyd Janney, Elsie Palmer, Virginia N., and Thomas McPherson Brown.

The collection consists of correspondence and other papers of the Virginia Quaker family of Asa M. Janney. The letters contain family news and note Quaker concerns and activities. Of special interest are letters from Asa's older brother, Samuel M. Janney, noted Quaker minister, author and abolitionist. Also included are an account book of Janney's Forest Mills flour mill, 1860-1862; a Swarthmore College student notebook kept by his grandson, Thomas Janney Brown; and a notebook of genealogy and memoirs written by his daughter Lydia Neal Brown which includes a copy of a letter written by her sister Thamsin describing events on the Janney and Brown farms during the Civil War together with other family stories.

Arranged in two series: Correspondence and Family Papers

Gift of Lee and Paul Lawrence in honor of Gael McPherson Post, Acc. 2017.039

Sorted into series and described.

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
Susanna Morikawa
Finding Aid Date
September 2017
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Collection Inventory


Arranged chronologically

Archival Resource Key. Phineas Janney, Alexandria, to Dr. John Moore, 1831-02-12.
Scope and Contents

Signed autograph letter (ALS) describes the last days and death of Edward Stabler (1769-1831), Quaker minister, and the illness of Stabler's children including 3 year old Caroline who died of measles a month after her father's death.

Archival Resource Key. Edward A. and Samuel M. Janney to Asa M. Janney, 1836-11-13.
Scope and Contents

Signed autograph letter (ALS) from Edward to his brother with addendum from Samuel. Mentions that family attended yearly and quarterly meetings, death of their sister Thamsin

Archival Resource Key. Henry Clark, Wilmington, to Asa M. Janney, 1849.
Scope and Contents

3 ALsS, mention cholera and music.

Archival Resource Key. Samuel M. Janney to Asa M. Janney, 1854, 1855.
Scope and Contents

2 ALsS. In 1854 Samuel writes that he is preparing to start a religious visit to New York and Philadelphia Yearly Meetings with John Smith as his companion. Family news and concern about the school. The letter dated 1855-5mo-2 is written on a prospectus for his Springdale Boarding School announcing that George S. Truman and wife will serve as superintendents

Archival Resource Key. Caleb Russell to Asa M. Janney, 1856-02-06.
Scope and Contents

ALS describes his removal to Iowa and attempts to establish a meeting, financial difficulties

Archival Resource Key. A. H. Griffith to Asa M. Janney, 1857-01-31.
Scope and Contents

Griffith visited the Janneys in Richmond, Va. The letter refers to offense taken regarding an Orthodox-Hicksite religious debate

Archival Resource Key. Samuel M. Janney to Asa M. Janney, 1860.
Scope and Contents

ALsS mostly concerning financial - land sales

Archival Resource Key. Dillwyn Parrish, Philadelphia, to Asa M. Janney, 1859-05-29.
Scope and Contents

Signed letter refers to controversy in Richmond Meeting, Virginia, and aiding the publication of Samuel M Janney's book

Archival Resource Key. Cossie [Janney], Pawnee Agency, to sister, 1870.
Scope and Contents

Letter to "Sister" from Cosmelia, mentions other Indian agents arriving. Also fragments of letters.

Archival Resource Key. Indian Agency to Asa M. Janney, 1872, 1875.
Scope and Contents

Cover letters concerning expenses submitted for payment

Archival Resource Key. Miscellaneous correspondence received by Janney family , 1885.
Scope and Contents

2 ALsS, family concerns

Archival Resource Key. William Brown to Thomas Janney Brown, 1912.
Scope and Contents

Signed letter (initials) from Thomas Janney Brown's father

Archival Resource Key. Miscellaneous correspondence to the Brown family, 1910-1950.
Scope and Contents

Thomas Janney Brown and wife Elsie Palmer Brown and their children, Janet, Boyd, Elsie, Virginia, and Thomas. The Browns were members of Goose Creek Monthly Meeting and later resided in Washington, DC.

Archival Resource Key. Deeds- Thomas/Nichols, 1817-1870.
Scope and Contents

Property deeds, from Thomas and Emily Nichols and others. The Brown and Nichols properties were linked with the marriage of Thomas Brown and Phebe Nichols in 1835.

Archival Resource Key. Marriage certificate, Brown and Nichols, 1835-11-09.
Scope and Contents

Thomas Brown and Phebe Nichols, the care of Goose Creek Monthly Meeting. In fragments. The marriage united the two families, both landowners in Loudoun County.

Archival Resource Key. Application for bankruptcy, Samuel M. Janney, 1842.
Archival Resource Key. Estate of Phebe Mills, 1849-1861.
Scope and Contents

Asa M. Janney served as executor

Archival Resource Key. Copyright for S. M. Janney's Life of George Fox, 1853.
Scope and Contents

"True copy" signed by the Clerk

Archival Resource Key. Draft of power attorney agreement, 1854.
Scope and Contents

Power of attorney to Richard H. Stabler of Alexandria

Archival Resource Key. Asa M. Janney account book, 1860-1862. 1 volumes.
Scope and Contents

Forest Mills

Physical Description

1 volumes

Archival Resource Key. Swarthmore College stock receipt, 1866.
Scope and Contents

Receipt signed for Asa M. Janney for one share of Swarthmore College stock

Archival Resource Key. Asa M. and Lydia Neal Janney miscellaneous financial, 1867-1881.
Archival Resource Key. Asa M. Janney guardianship account, 1874.
Scope and Contents

Account of the guardianship for his sisters, Cosmelia, Thamsin, and Lydia Neal Janney concerning the estate of Phineas Janney

Archival Resource Key. Thomas Janney Brown student notebook, 1885.
Scope and Contents

Thomas Brown, Swarthmore College Class of 1888, class notes.

Archival Resource Key. Lydia Neal Janney Brown notebook, 1917-1924.
Scope and Contents

Notebook containing family genealogy, history, and anecdotes. Includes memoirs of cousin Edward Haines settling in Virginia in 1758, a copy of letter sent to Lydia from her sister Thamsin at home in Loudoun Co., Va., describing a Confederate raid in 1862, and memoirs of the War and family anecdotes. Newspaper article on Circleville published in the Loudoun Times-Mirror in 1976 was largely based on this notebook.

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