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Mary Hill correspondence


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

Mary Hill lived with her husband George Hill at 3601 Baring Street, in the Powelton Village neighborhood of West Philadelphia. At the end of the nineteenth century, this neighborhood was a mix of upper-middle class industrial tycoons and middle class families utilizing newly established electric rail lines. The Pennsylvania Railroad company purchased a large tract of land there in 1852 for future development, and the 30th Street Station was eventually built in this area.

The main correspondent in the collection is Mary’s son, William (Will) Hill. Weekly correspondence between June 1888 and October 1890, with some brief gaps, informally documents a portion of Will’s employment with the Pennsylvania Railroad company. From the content of the letters, it appears that Will worked with the corps of engineers responsible for marking and laying the tracks in the state of Pennsylvania and some areas of Virginia. He worked both in the field and in the office of the corps’ various temporary stations throughout Pennsylvania.

Powelton Village, Philadelphia. Viewed on April 4, 2006. All other information derived from the collection.

The Mary Hill correspondence, spanning the years 1888-1910 (bulk 1888-1890), was a gift of Samuel Moyerman circa 1970-1972. The collection comprises .3 linear feet (87 items) of handwritten correspondence, many accompanied by the original envelopes, received by Mary Hill at 3601 Baring Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The letters are arranged by sender and are housed in three folders: Letters from Will Hill (F1 and F2), and Letters from other friends and family (F3). The letters from Will Hill, Mary Hill’s son, are addressed most commonly to "Ma" or "Ma and Pa", with a few addressed to "Pa" and signed "Your affectionate son, Will." These letters comprise the majority of the collection. In his frequent correspondence, Will discussed current projects with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, as well as various leisure activities and the weather conditions. Will often times briefly mentions his working conditions, his feelings toward various supervisors, and the natural events that delayed railroad construction. It appears that Will traveled often with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, as his letters were sent from various places in Pennsylvania as well as Alexandria, Virginia. Between June 1888 and June 1889 (F1) Will sent letters from Canadensis, Latrobe, Williamsport, Altoona, Braddock, Sutersville, Morrisville and Newtown, Pennsylvania, and Alexandria Virginia. The letters from October 1889 to October 1890 (F2) reflect a more settled period in Will’s career, with letters from Muncy, Williamsport, and Freeport Pennsylvania.

The other letters written to Mary Hill (F3) are from various correspondents: Bettie Hill Shaw, her son George, a friend Clara Shaw, and a cousin Mary Allen. These letters discuss possible visits, and thank-you notes for Christmas gifts. This folder also contains two pieces pertaining to the purchase of clothing, one from dressmaker Sadie M. Brooks of Kater and Brooks, and Eshleman and Craig Co., Custom Shirtmakers and Launderers, both of Philadelphia.

This small collection is fragmentary. However, the letters from Will Hill to his mother Mary may be of interest to those researching the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

Gift of Samuel Moyerman, circa 1970-1972.

Processed by Emily Holloway, March 2006. Encoded by Lora J. Davis, July 2011.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2011 July 29
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 Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Letters from Will Hill, 1888 June-1889 June 1889.
Box 1 Folder F1
Physical Description

35 items

Letters from Will Hill, 1889 October-1890 October.
Box 1 Folder F2
Physical Description

39 items

Letters from other friends and family, 1888-1910.
Box 1 Folder F3
Physical Description

13 items

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