Scope and Contents
The collection contains many letters between Rebecca and Isaac Collins during his extended business trip to London in 1845. Rebecca passes along news from friends and family, and from the Philadelphia Quakers. Isaac writes about the English Quakers, news from friends, and describes the gifts he is sending to Rebecca and the children. There are also many letters to Rebecca from Mary Anna Longstreth, during Rebecca’s visit to English and Irish Meetings in 1842-1843. There are also letters of John Pease to Rebecca and Isaac Collins. Rebecca’s diaries in the form of booklets and individual pages are dated 1824-1847. Entries are not in order; some are on stray pages rather than in books, and some of the entries in books have been copied from stray “scraps.” Most entries concern Rebecca’s religious feelings and her often-repeated desire to dedicate herself more and more fully to her faith. Some later entries describe her charitable visits to prisoners, the poor, the sick, and the patients of an insane asylum. One diary is dedicated to the illness and death of Rebecca’s brother Henry, including accounts of the remedies offered by doctors, and of Henry’s mental and spiritual condition.
A small collection of Quaker documents related to the family includes an original printed birth certificate for Rebecca’s youngest daughter Mary Forster Collins, and alsoan original marriage certificate for James Walton and Achsah Croasdale, grandparents of Mary Forster Collins’ husband James Morris Walton. Among the printed material is some paper currency. “United Colonies” bills from 1776 may have been saved because Isaac Collins, Sr. worked as a printer at that time, although these bills are not printed by his establishment in Burlington. There is also a United States bill for ten cents, dated 1874. Finally, there are genealogical notes on the Collins, Singer, and Walton families. These seem to be written at different times by different people. Most are handwritten notes, but there is also a printed page containing a biography of James Morris Walton.
Biographical / Historical
Daughter of German Lutherans John and Anna Maria Singer, Rebecca (Singer) Collins (1804–1892) became a Quaker as a young woman. She was the second wife of Isaac Collins, Jr. (1787-1863), who served on the Board of Managers of Haverford College from 1830 to 1842. Rebecca and Isaac had three children together, Anna (1835), Stephen Grellet (1836), and Mary Forster (1843). Rebecca was a minister of Twelfth Street Meeting in Philadelphia, and author of Parent’s Gift; or, reading book for little children, as well as editor of a book of quotations entitled Treasured Gems. She traveled extensively to speak to Friends’ Meetings in Europe, and late in life was well known for her philanthropic work in New York City.
(Information from internal evidence, the Dictionary of Quaker Biography, The American Friend, and The Collins Family by Margaret Hill Collins and Ellinor Collins Aird.)