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Wistar family papers

Identifier: HC.MC-1262

Scope and Contents note

This collection contains a variety of different materials related to the Wistar family. There are letters and cards exchanged between various family members—including Elizabeth (Bettina) Vaux Wistar, Mary Emlen Wistar, and Frederic Vaux Wistar. Many of the letters were sent from Europe between 1893 and 1894. There is also an assortment of financial and legal papers like wills and hotel bills. The section of “Travel and Sightseeing Materials” is particularly noteworthy. It contains a journal written by Emma F. Wistar in which she recounts her 1866 trip to Niagara Falls—making special note of botanical specimens that she saw and collected along the way. In fact, dried plant and flower samples are interleaved with the pages of the journal. There is also a “Certificate of Travel” presented to Emma by her uncle, Joshua H. Morris, in recognition of her successful 1866 trip. Additionally, there is a brief account by B.V. Wistar about his experience at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The collection contains a number of images, many of which are formal photographs taken by Philadelphia photography studios. Some are labeled with the names of Wistar family members. Finally, the collection ends with a brief miscellaneous section for additional materials.


  • 1861-1950
  • Majority of material found within 1861 - 1900


Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical note

This collection centers around the Wistar family during the 19th and 20th centuries. The Wistars were a long-standing Philadelphia family with many well-known members including Caspar Wispar (1761-1818), a physician and friend of Thomas Jefferson who served as president of the American Philosophical Society and is the namesake of The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. Family members featured in this collection include Caleb Cresson Wistar, who was born on July 21, 1846 in Philadelphia and died on August 8th, 1916. He was the son of Bartholomew Wyatt Wistar and Annabelle Elliot Cresson. Caleb graduated from Haverford College in 1865 and became a business man. He married Mary Emlen Wistar in 1876, and together they had four children: Wyatt Wistar, Frederic Vaux Wistar, Caleb Cresson Wistar Jr., and Elizabeth Vaux Wistar, all of whom are featured in this collection. Emma F. Wistar, whose 1866 journal is also found in these materials, was the sister of Caleb Cresson Wistar. She was born in 1848.


0.75 Linear Feet (2 Boxes)




Materials are arranged according to type. Within each set of related items, the contents are organized chronologically. Materials without dates are placed at the end of each section.


The Wistar Family Papers were purchased by Special Collections, Haverford College, in 2014 from Ian Brabner Rare Americana.

Processing Information

Processed by Emily Kingsley; completed November 2015.
Wistar family papers, 1861-1900
Emily Kingsley
November 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
English (eng)

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

370 Lancaster Ave
Haverford PA 19041 USA US