Bright family papers
Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. 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
Robert Southall Bright was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, on May 24, 1872 to Robert Anderson and Nannie (Munford) Bright. His father was a planter who had served in the Confederate army, and after the war had continued to support legislation in opposition to the rights and suffrage of former slaves. Robert S. Bright's great uncle, George Washington Southall, was the Bright family's connection to the Southalls, who were among the first families to settle on the Virginia peninsula in the early seventeenth century. Robert Southall Bright graduated with an A.B. from the College of William and Mary in 1891, then apprenticed under Philadelphia lawyer George H. Earle until he was admitted to the bar in 1894. On October 19 of the following year, Bright married Caroline De Beelen, daughter of George Sidney Lovett, and together they had a son, Douglas Bright, who was born on August 17, 1896. From 1894 to 1926, Bright maintained an independent law firm in Philadelphia, and from 1926 to 1934 he was a member of the Philadelphia banking firm Thomas A. Biddle & Co. In 1932, Caroline died, and on December 1, 1934 Bright married again, this time to Mary (McCaw) Haves, who was the daughter of William Reid McCaw. Also in 1934, Bright retired to his farm in Frederick, Maryland, where he lived until his death on December 18, 1943.
Robert Southall Bright was active in Philadelphia politics, including his service as president of the Woodrow Wilson League, and was a prominent member of the Progressive Party. He was a member of a number of different associations, as well as a trustee of the Lovett Memorial Free Library of Philadelphia, and during the First World War he served as a major in the army on the staff of the judge advocate general in Washington, D.C. Bright also published a number of historical works, many of which were originally speeches: "Pocahontas and Other Colonial Dames of Virginia" (1906); "The Hamlet of American Politics" (1908); "Liberty's Greatest paper" (1910); and "Nathaniel Bacon and His Rebellion" (n.d.).
Dictionary of American Biography, ed. Dumas Malone. vol.9. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963. Historical and biographical information derived from the collection.
The Robert Southall Bright Collection concerns the personal and business affairs of the Bright family, most notably Philadelphia lawyer Robert Southall Bright (1872-1943) and his wife Caroline de Beelen Bright (d. 1932). The collection comprises 2.3 linear feet of material and contains correspondence, financial and legal items, receipts, insurance policies, leases, speeches, political papers, certificates, invitations and greeting cards, photographs, and ephemera. The collection is divided into five main series: I. Robert S. Bright correspondence, II. financial and legal documents, III. papers concerning other members of the Bright family, IV. miscellaneous papers, and V. photographs.
The first series spans the period 1877-1939, and includes correspondence to and from Robert S. Bright, most notably from his wife Caroline and from his friend John L. Stoddard.
The second series spans the period 1879-1942, and includes stock and bond certificates, insurance policies, estate accounts, leases, bills and receipts, bank statements, canceled checks, account and memorandum books, and other legal items.
The third series spans the period 1763-1918, and includes correspondence, legal, and financial items concerning Robert Anderson Bright, Samuel Bright, George Washington Southall, and Douglas Bright.
The fourth series spans the period 1821-1934, and includes school certificates, speeches and political papers, invitations and RSVPs, calling cards, greeting cards, legal items pertaining to the case of Armistead et al. vs. Dandridge et al. (1821-1843), and ephemera.
The fifth series spans the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and includes photographs of the Bright family, many of which were taken at Monhegan Island, Maine.
The collection focuses primarily on Robert S. and Caroline Bright, documenting their personal and financial affairs particularly in the 1920s and early 1930s. The names of several prominent Virginia and Pennsylvania families are included in the collection (the Bassetts, Lovetts, Southalls, and Dandridges), but their relationships to the Bright family are not always made clear. The items concerning these individuals can be found primarily in the correspondence, or under the heading of "Miscellaneous Papers" in series four.
The collection contains a large number of photographs, but unfortunately all but a very few are unidentified. It is assumed that portraits are of members of the Bright family or their relatives. Most of the photographs are of people and locations on Monhegan Island, which served as a summer vacation spot for Robert Southall Bright and his family. Though these are undated, Monhegan correspondence elsewhere in the collection dates from 1932 and 1933, and thus provides a rough estimate for when the photographs were taken. The island was also frequented by a number of prominent American artists, including Rockwell Kent, Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, and N.C. Wyeth. Since early in the twentieth century, the Wyeths have owned a home on the island, and one of the more intriguing items in the collection is a letter written to Robert S. Bright by his friend Henriette Wyeth (b. 1907), who was the daughter of N.C. Wyeth.
The correspondence, particularly that with his fiancee Caroline de Beelen, provides a great deal of information about Robert S. Bright's personal life, as well as his demeanor -- which at times could be rather piercing. The letters also reveal the wide range of personal and business contacts which Bright maintained. He corresponded frequently with friends and relatives in Virginia and the Philadelphia area, a law firm in Buffalo, New York, the president of the College of William and Mary, and acquaintances in Europe and China. The intensity of Bright's activity is further revealed in the number and variety of invitations to social functions, as well as his membership in numerous political societies and associations. Also of interest is the correspondence that Robert S. Bright maintained with his friend John Lawson Stoddard (1850-1931), whose ruminations on the political and social conditions of pre-war Europe and America provide a fascinating, if brief, glimpse into the important issues of the day.
There is no indication of when Bright actually met Stoddard, though it is clear that he and his family stayed at Stoddard's Italian villa on Lake Como sometime before 1909. Stoddard was a prominent writer and lecturer, teaching the classics for a year at the Boston Latin School, and using the experiences and photographs he acquired through a lifetime of extensive world travel as the basis of a public lecturing career. He spent the last three decades of his life in retirement abroad, the years 1906-1914 being spent at Lake Como. The horrors of the First World War, witnessed first-hand, drove Stoddard towards Catholicism, but up to that point he had been a free-thinker. He also had a great love for northern Italy and its people, and these two facets of his personality are very much in evidence in his letters to Bright.
Though the collection comprises a wealth of financial material from the period 1929-1930 (most notably accounts of Bright's stock portfolio and the receipts of stock sales and purchases), it is uncertain what sort of effect the market crash of 1929 had on Bright's overall finances. A few letters sent by companies and brokerage firms do suggest a fiscal slump, but Bright's activity within the market seemed unabated. Overall, Bright was primarily concerned with the purchase of stocks from oil and utility companies.
Boxes 1-7: Shelved in SPEC MSS Manuscript boxes
Gift of Anna D. Moyerman, 1972.
Processed by Arthur Siegel, October 1998. Finding aid encoded by Lauren Connolly, August 2015 and Tiffany Saulter, November 2015.
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2015 November 3
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research
- Use Restrictions
Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, http://library.udel.edu/spec/askspec/
Included is business and personal correspondence of Robert S. Bright. Many of these are from relatives (mostly his wife and father), while others are from friends and business associates. The scope of the letters is wide-ranging, having been sent from individuals as far afield as Michigan, New York, Italy, and even China. The letters are arranged chronologically, with the exceptions of letters to and from his wife Caroline, and those from his friend J.L. Stoddard. Most of the personal correspondence is hand written.
Includes several letters from New York City, Buffalo, and Michigan. Those from Michigan were sent by George W. Earle, Robert's former legal mentor.Physical Description
Includes letters from Robert A. Bright, Laura D. Lovett, and a letter informing Bright of his election as an honorary member of the Phoenix Literary Society.Physical Description
Includes letters from Robert A. Bright, James Roper, Joseph P. McCullen, and Henrietta B. Wyeth. Also included is an 1895 pocket calendar sent by S. Lippincott from Haden Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.Physical Description
Includes letters from Robert A. Bright, a ten-page letter from William Taliaferro, and a list of the publications of the Virginia Historical Society.Physical Description
Personal and business correspondencePhysical Description
Includes letters from R.A. Bright, a letter from R.P. Lore that contains a transcription of a letter by J.P. Morgan, and other letters from Lore regarding business dealings with Morgan & Co.Physical Description
Includes a letter by William Roper, one from A. de Beelen Lovett (Geneva, N.Y.), and a letter and poem about the Battle of Santiago de Cuba sent by Professor J. Leslie Hall of the College of William and Mary (7 pp.). Also included is a five-page letter of response from Bright to Hall, regarding the poem.Physical Description
Includes letters from R.A. Bright, William Roper, and Lyon G. Tyler, president of the College of William and Mary. Also included are receipts, a check, and correspondence concerning Bright's payments of his father's debts to the estate of J.D. Moncure.Physical Description
Includes letters from Robert A. Bright, several letters from an individual in the Netherlands, minutes from a special meeting of the Vestry of Grace Church in Mt. Airy (1900), and a letter from A.J. de Souza in Shanghai, China (1900). This last letter also includes a photograph.Physical Description
Includes a copy of a book review of Beverly B. Munford'sVirginia's Attitude Towards Slavery and Secession (1910); two copies of the publisher's advertisement for this book; a letter from the State Central Committee of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania; and other correspondence. Physical Description
Includes various personal and business correspondence.Physical Description
Includes a letter from the National Bureau of Analysis in Chicago, regarding medical tests performed on Robert Bright (1930); a report of the tests' findings; correspondence regarding the death and estate of Caroline Bright; and financial correspondence.Physical Description
Includes several letters from Robert A. Bright and [J]. D. Lovett.Physical Description
Most of these letters were written in the summer and autumn of 1895, only months before the two were married, and are essentially of a personal nature.Physical Description
Much of this is business and financial correspondence, but also included is a letter in French from "Beelen," sent from Pittsburgh, and dated to 1877.Physical Description
These typed and hand written letters were sent from Stoddard's villa on Lake Como, in Italy, and contain reflections on contemporary Italian society, socialism, politics, and personal anecdotes. Also included are several printed copies of poems which Stoddard sent and dedicated to Bright, entitled "Youth and Age," and "The Pagan Past."Physical Description
Included are various financial and legal documents, as well as an account book and memorandum book. The stocks are varied in type, though many come from oil and utility companies.
Includes stock certificates, correspondence from companies to shareholders, receipts, and accounts of Bright's portfolio. Also included is a four-page copy of a Deed of Trust from Henry W. Biddle to the Fidelity Trust Company (1920). Most of Bright's financial business was transacted through A.A. Housman & Co.Physical Description
Includes stock certificates, receipts, correspondence, lists of securities, and accounts of Bright's portfolio. Thomas A. Biddle & Co. was the brokerage firm handling the bulk of the business in this folder, for both Robert and Caroline Bright.Physical Description
Includes stock certificates, receipts, correspondence, and accounts for Robert and Caroline Bright. Also included are annual prospectuses for the Electric Auto-Lite Co., the Zonite Products Corp., and Mack Trucks, Inc.; and notices of annual meetings from various companies in which they owned stock.Physical Description
Most of these were contracted either by Robert or Caroline Bright. Included are policies for fire insurance from the Hamburg-Bremen Fire Insurance Company (1897), and the Spring Garden Insurance Company (1896); for theft insurance from the Fidelity and Casualty Co. (1898); for property insurance from the Commercial Union Assurance Co., limited (1933), the Insurance Company of North America (1933), the Virginia Home Insurance Company (for W.H.E. Manecock, 1878), and the Insurance and Trust Company of Philadelphia (for Catherine Shacklett, 1892, and Louisa D. Lovett, 1915); and a life insurance policy issued by the Treasury Department (1918). Also included are nine copies of liability insurance policies issued to Caroline Bright by the Maryland Casualty Company (1931-1933), and correspondence from the St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company (1931).Physical Description
Included are accounts for the estates of Mary M. Smylie, Daniel V. Allen, Charlotte Bostwick, and Catherine M. Shacklett. Robert Bright was either the trustee or administrator for most of these individuals.Physical Description
Robert Bright was the executor of her estate, and co-executor of her will, along with the Guarantee Trust & Safe Deposit Company of Philadelphia. Included are one typed and three hand written copies of her will; correspondence from Tradesmens National Bank and Trust Company, and the law offices of Roper and Caldwell (1930); general correspondence; and an audit of estate accounts.Physical Description
Papers relating to the establishment of this company, of which Robert Bright was elected Secretary. Included is a 23-page Articles of Agreement with the state of Maine, which lays out the company's by-laws. Also included is a two-page Certificate of Organization of a Corporation under the General Law, signed by the Attorney General and Secretary of the State of Maine.Physical Description
Includes two leases from the Brooklyn Home for Aged Men to Robert Bright (1903 & 1904), and a lease for several law offices from the City of Philadelphia to Robert S. Bright, William W. Roper, and J. Gaven Roper (1915).Physical Description
For goods purchased and services rendered.Physical Description
Includes financial correspondence from Thomas A. Biddle & Co.; and statements from the Tradesmens National Bank and Trust Co., the Augusta Trust Co., and the Fidelity Philadelphia Trust Company. These statements are for accounts of both Robert S. and Caroline Bright.Physical Description
Accounts established with R.S. Bright, including accounts for the estate of Catherine M. Shacklett, general accounts, and fee accounts for his legal work. The fee accounts span the entire period of the ledger, and are listed in chronological order according to year and date. The book is bound in a hard cover, and was manufactured by William Murphy's Sons, Co. of 509 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia. There is an index on the first page.Physical Description
Signed by both Robert S. and Caroline Bright, and drawn off of the Equitable Trust Co., the Guarantee Trust and Safe Deposit Co., the Fidelity Insurance Trust and Safe Deposit Co., the National Bank of Germantown and Trust Co., the Germantown Trust Co., the Tradesmens National Bank and Trust Co., and the Augusta Trust Co.Physical Description
A record of amounts loaned to Richard Cook, with his signature indicating that the account was paid in full. The book was issued by the Guarantee Trust & Safe Deposit Co. of Philadelphia.Physical Description
Includes papers concerning Robert S. Bright's father, Robert Anderson Bright (b. 1839); his grandfather, Samuel Bright (b. 1803); his great uncle, George Washington Southall (1810-1854); and his son, Douglas Bright (b. 1896).
Includes a certificate of birth (August 1896); a letter from the U.S. Marine Corps regarding appointment of Douglas to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant (1917); nine letters of recommendation on behalf of Douglas; a letter of rejection by the U.S. Marine Corps (June 1917); a letter of acceptance to take an exam for the Signal Officers' Reserve Corps (1918); a letter from the Signal Corps, War Department; a letter by Douglas Bright to his father and two sets of photocopies of this letter (n.d.); various business correspondence; and receipts.Physical Description
Includes correspondence; financial accounts; receipts; a certificate of life membership to the Virginia State Agricultural Society (1871); a notice of selection by the Conservative State Committee of Virginia to the post of canvasser against the proposition for black suffrage; a bond to Gilbert Enley (1886); a certificate of life membership to the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical Society (1893); and a letter from a War Department commission for the erection of monuments and memorials for Confederate soldiers on the field of Gettysburg (1899).
Includes personal and business correspondence. Half of the letters were written by W.W. Vest, with others from G.W. Bassett, G.W. Ward, Edward Buckley, William Duval, Warren Jones, and Helen M. Anderson to Peyton S. Southall, and James Brickhead to H.M. Anderson.Physical Description
Most of these items are receipts, but also included is a record of the division of the G.W. Southall estate; a bond between Henry and Furman Southall and William Barnes (1792); promissory notes; and memos.Physical Description
Concerns the personal effects of Robert S. Bright, and includes school certificates, speeches, political papers, invitations, greeting cards, calling cards, and miscellaneous items. Also included are several items pertaining to Caroline Bright, as well as to the Lovett family, from which Caroline Bright was descended.
Includes certificates of distinction in English, Virginia History, Jr. Class Physics, Sr. Class Physics, Latin, General History, United States History, and Mathematics, presented to Robert S. Bright by the College of William and Mary. Also included is a report card from the fall semester of 1890.Physical Description
Includes a speech entitled "Pocahontas and Other Colonial Dames of Virginia," given in Geneva, New York (22 Feb 1906); a hand written speech on John Randolph of Roanoke, entitled "Hamlet of American Politics," given before William & Mary alumni (1908); a speech given on behalf of Democratic congressional candidate Vance McCormick, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (8 Sep 1914); and a speech on Nathaniel Bacon and his rebellion, given before the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (n.d.).Physical Description
Includes a program for a Jackson Day Dinner (10 Jan 1923), sponsored by the Democratic City Executive Committee of Philadelphia; two copies of a memorandum from the Ways and Means Committee of the Liberal Party (7 Oct 1930); a typed transcript of an interview with Robert Bright by the Chairman of the Bankers and Brokers Committee of the Liberal Party (20 Oct 1930); and a letter from the Pennsylvania division of the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment (6 Jun 1930). Pierre S. DuPont was the Chair of the National Executive Committee in this association.Physical Description
Includes a wide variety of items, such as correspondence and legal notes, as well as : - a signed statement by Caroline Lane - transcripts from several law journals - a report card for H.M. Bright from the College of William & Mary (1894) - a typed letter from Samuel Maddox, P.A. to Charlotte B. Lovett (1898) - a deed between Ashton S. and Harriet Tourison and Louisa D. Lovett (1915) - an 18-page speech to the Board of Directors of the Fidelity Insurance Trust & Safe Deposit Co. (1898/99, author unknown) - a list of rules for the "Philadelphia Alumni Association of Kappa Sigma" - blank letterhead of the Pulaski Club of Williamsburg, on which Judge Frank Armistead and Robert S. Bright are listed as members - a memorandum of A.M. Bright (brother of Robert S. Bright) - a blank income tax form for 1929.Physical Description
Includes invitations from the Lawyer's Club of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Club, and the Philobiblon Club, wedding invitations, an invitation to a Christmas day dinner, and to other social gatherings. Also included are RSVPs to a party hosted by Robert Bright and his wife (dated 1934).Physical Description
Includes Christmas cards, an Easter card, Valentine cards, several get-well cards, and a frame made from cardboard and ringed with tissue paper, a small portrait of George Washington having been pasted in the center. Also included are envelopes, several of which are artistically decorated. These were all addressed to Robert S. Bright.Physical Description
Includes calling cards and business cards from Robert Bright's friends and business associates. Also included is a 16-page address book; a church bulletin, "The Parish Intelligence," from Christ Church in Macon, GA; "Common Speech," a newsletter of the English-Speaking Union of the United States; a postcard; and three Christmas stamps from 1942.Physical Description
This case concerns a dispute between the two parties over the administration of the estates of William Langborne and William Dandridge. Included is a copy of the will of William Langborne (1821); a list of the defendants and plaintiffs in the case; several orders of summons issued to the Sergeant of the City of Williamsburg, Virginia; a notice of deposition; and other legal documents.Physical Description
This belonged to Caroline Bright, and includes transcriptions in her own hand of the works of notable poets (such as George Elliot, Shelley, Browning), as well as newspaper clippings of poems that were pasted onto a few of the pages. In addition, several photographs of an unidentified building were laid into the pages of the book.Physical Description
A leather-bound journal. On the first page is inscribed, "Cape May NJ / The Summer of Nineteen Twenty Three / Caroline de Beelen L. Bright / Some Thoughts in Verse." Many of these are original poems written by Caroline Bright during a holiday at Cape May, and a few of the later poems were written at Monhegan Island, Maine, in 1932. Several pages have been torn out from the front of the book.Physical Description
With the exception of the postcards, these photographs are almost completely unidentified, though the portraits and images of individuals are very likely to be of members of the Bright family, or acquaintances on Monhegan Island, Maine. All of the photographs are in black and white, though one or two of these have been hand-painted.Physical Description
This is by far the largest category of photographs, including images of individuals and animals, the interiors and exteriors of houses, and natural locations on the island. There are a number of duplicates (including 3 copies of a photograph entitled "Woods in Winter"), and several of the photographs are significantly larger than the rest.Physical Description
Most of these photographs were taken at professional studios (listed where appropriate), and are matted. They likely date from the late nineteenth century, except for a small cameo photograph, which may date from earlier in the century. Only a portrait of Caroline Bright, as a child, has been identified for certain. - Robert Bright? (hand-painted) - Young man in uniform, poss. Douglas Bright (4 items) - Caroline de Beelen Lovett as a child (D. Hinkle, 4739 Main St., Germantown) - Portrait of a woman (D. Hinkle) - Portrait of a man (C.M. Bell, 463-465 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington DC) - Portrait of a woman (C.M. Bell) - Portrait of a young man (Scannell, 814 Arch St., Philadelphia) - Portrait of a woman (Kehrwieder's Studio, 4905 Main St., Germantown, PA) - Portrait of a woman (Fred Robinson, photographer, Geneva, NY) - Portrait of a woman (small cameo photo pasted on square matting) - Photo of a woman with a dog - Photo of a man holding a hat - Photo of a woman arranging flowersPhysical Description
Images from various locations, including Monhegan Island (Lorimer E. Brackett, Photocards); Boothbay Harbor, Maine (The Labbie Picture Shop); and Mansfield, England (Sherwood Photographic Company). - "Surf at Gull Rock" - "Studio -- Monhegan, Maine" - Cathedral Woods in Winter - "Cathedral Woods" - "Winter Home" - [studio] - Portrait of a woman - Town - "Newstead Abbey" - "Fog Bound, Monhegan, ME" - "Ascott House"Physical Description
Includes photographs that do not fall in any of the above categories. Only the photos of the couple and the schoolgirls are matted, and the photo of the child in the tub is badly damaged. - Photo of a restaurant sent to R.S. Bright by Walker Cox (1929) - Group photo at the beach - Small child in tub - Photo of house (hand-painted) - Unidentified couple (mounted in a cardboard folder) - Group photo of schoolgirls - Photo negatives (2 items)Physical Description