Scope and Contents note
The James Wood papers are divided into twelve series: “Biographical Material:” “Agriculture;” Business and Financial Material;” “Collected Quaker Material;” “Correspondence;” “Hugh Barbour Writings and Talks regarding James Wood;” “Journals;” “Organizations;” “Photographs and Albums;” “Political Involvement;” Prison Reform;” and lastly, “Writings by James Wood.” This collection contains many materials, including correspondence, photographs, record books, awards, and printed material such as newspapers and pamphlets. Given Wood’s heavy involvement in agriculture, this collection has high research value for those interested in farming methods, live stock breeding, and general agriculture history from the late nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries. Also of note to researchers is a series covering Wood’s work in female prison reform, which includes several official reports and newspaper stories in this area.
The “Biographical” series contains records spanning Wood’s time at Haverford in 1865 to notices of his passing in 1925 and 1926. Highlights of this series include the “Clippings” folder, which contains several newspaper articles about James Wood. Also included in this series is his 1865 Haverford College paper titled “Journeyings,” as well as obituaries from many newspapers. The Westchester County Historical Society and American Bible Society published their own remembrances of Wood, which are included in this series. Also found in this series is Wood’s Marriage Certificate from 1866, and an autograph album from 1886. Researchers looking for biographical information on James Wood should use this series as well as the “Hugh Barbour Writings and Talks regarding James Wood” series.
The series “Agriculture” contains writings and materials collected by James Wood, regarding his farming activities and involvement. The series is divided into the following six subseries: “Writings by James Wood;” “Collected Materials;” “Sheep Material;” “Farm Dog Material;” “Horse Material;” and “Poultry Material.” “Writings by James Wood” include his speeches and published works, as well as his paper, “Ideas on Horticulture.” Within “Collected Materials,” are “Collected farming documents and materials” that Wood kept, such as pamphlets regarding local taxation affecting farms, lists of farming materials and other related items. Also included within “Collected Materials,” is the “History of the Bedford Farmers Club” by Wood, his certificate of nomination to National Farmer’s Congress, and the New York Farmers Proceedings.
Also within the series, “Agriculture,” are the following four subseries: “Sheep Material;” "Farm Dog Material;” "Horse Material;” and "Poultry Material.” These four subseries hold materials such as clippings, notes, records, and awards. Of the four, “Sheep Material,” is the most extensive. Included in this subseries are “Writings on Sheep in various publications by others;” “Writings on Sheep by James Wood in the Cultivator and Country Gentleman” from 1884 and 1887; and “Correspondence regarding Bulk Sheep.” Also found within the subseries is additional correspondence, clippings, competition materials, photographs, and flock records.
The “Business and Financial” series contains Wood’s records of the Genesee Salt Company, Arizona Improvement Company, and Erie Barge Canal. Wood was involved with these companies from 1896 to 1906. Included in this series are many of his financial records from Hamilton Bank, the Dickinson Family Estate, and Insurance information.
The “Collected Quaker Material” series reflects Wood’s great involvement in Quaker affairs. Included are various clippings and publications on Quaker events, as well as Quaker meeting materials from the New York Yearly Meeting (1893-1925), the Five Years Meeting at Braewold (1902), and the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (undated).
The series “Correspondence” consists of letters sent to and from Wood. These are arranged as the following: “To James Wood” (alphabetically by sender’s last name); “From James Wood” (alphabetical by recipient’s last name); “To James Wood” (alphabetical by country or city of sender): and “Invitations and Cards to James Wood.” Within those arranged by country or city of origin, are letters sent to James Wood from across the world, including Austria, Holland, Panama, Cuba, and Scotland.
The “Hugh Barbour Writings and Talks regarding James Wood” series include works by Barbour related to James Wood. A biographer of Wood from the 1990s onwards, Barbour wrote on Wood’s life in Mount Kisco, and his involvement in the Quaker movement at Braewold. Barbour presented these writings at the Earlham School of Religion (1994) and at the Quaker Historian and Archivists Meeting (1996).
The series “Journals” contains two journals kept by Wood, one of which is titled “Journeyings” from 1864 which contains the notes on the paper, of the same title, written by Wood as a student at Haverford College. The other spans many years, detailing information from 1881 through 1916.
The “Organizations” series contains records of Wood’s involvement in several organizations, including the American Bible Society, the town of Bedford, Braewold Meeting, Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, the Good Roads, and White Plains Court House. Researchers should consult the folder containing Wood’s resignation as the President of the American Bible Society as it summarizes his involvement with the Society.
“Photographs and Albums” is the ninth series within the collection. This series contains photograph albums from Egypt; England; Europe; Germany and Switzerland; and the Palestine. These albums have been carefully created, and each photograph is accompanied by a caption. Also found in this series is a Postal Souvenirs postcard album, holding photo postcards from his travels. Additionally, researchers will find individual photographs of James Wood and his family within this series.
The “Political Involvement” series contains predominately newspaper clippings related to James Wood’s unsuccessful candidacy for National Congress in 1886.
The “Prison Reform” series contains newspaper clippings, published New York State reports, and statements by James Wood on reforming women’s prison conditions in New York. Also included are newspaper clippings written by others regarding Wood’s work in this area. This series has high research value for anyone interested in prison reform from the period spanning the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The final series, “Writings by James Wood,” contains his “Addresses and Lectures,” writings “On Topics,” and “Notes.” “Addresses and Lectures” contains such titles as “The Distinguishing Doctrine of the Religious Society of Friends,” given in 1908 at the 12th Street Meeting House in Philadelphia and a “Historical Address,” delivered to the Presbytery of Westchester in 1888. Wood wrote on a variety of topics and subjects, such as art and public worship, Quaker principles, education and social reform, immigration and development, and many others.
James Wood was born on November 12, 1839 to Stephen and Phoebe (Underhill) Wood on a farm just north of Mt. Kisco, New York. He was the youngest of seven children, and “started his early religious training with his parents at Mt. Kisco.” (American Bible Society (ABS)). His formal education included the local Bedford Academy, the Westtown School of Pennsylvania (1850-1851) and Haverford College (1853-1857). While at Haverford College, Wood was the editor of the “Collegian,” and president of the Henry Society. Listed as a graduate of 1858, Wood also received an honorary master’s degree in 1883 after “he gave an illuminating course of historical lectures at Haverford College,” (Jones). James Wood married Emily Hollingsworth Morris on June 6 (or possibly 7), 1866 and fathered three children: Ellen M., Carolena M. and Levi Hollingsworth. After graduating from Haverford College, Wood’s activities diversified. According to the American Bible Society’s biography of Wood, he was “interested in education, philanthropy, in the various branches of agriculture, in archaeology, history, Indian lore, anthropology, science, in prison reform and above all, in the Bible and religion,” (ABS, 2). Professionally, Wood served as President of the Genesee Salt Company in Piffard, New York. Yet he was also committed to agricultural work; becoming one of the first American breeders of Ayrshire cattle and Hampshire Down sheep, as well serving as the president of the Bedford Farmers’ Club. He also served on the Board of Managers of Haverford College from 1885 to 1925 and as a trustee of Bryn Mawr College starting in 1902, and eventually becoming a board chairman from 1914 to 1918.
His interest in prison reform can be seen in his involvement in founding the New York State Reformatory for Women at Bedford, serving as president of the Board of Managers from 1900 to 1916; as a member of the Executive Committee of the New York Prison Association; and as the president of Westchester Temporary Home for Destitute Children. Wood was known as “a leader in prison reform and methods of correction.” (ABS, p. 2). Politically, Wood unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1886, and acted as the town supervisor of Bedford, New York from 1862 to 1863.
Among Wood’s many interests, the Bible and religion were extremely important to him. According to the American Bible Society, he was “one of the outstanding leaders and a spokesman of his own church, the Society of Friends,” (ABS, page 6). From 1855 to 1925, Wood served in many capacities with several Quaker organizations. His roles include serving as the presiding clerk of the New York Yearly Meeting of Friends, the president of the General Conference of Friends in 1887, chairman of the Westchester County Bible Society from 1893 to 1925, vice president of the American Bible Society from 1903 to 1911, the 14th President of the American Bible Society from 1911 to 1919, and president Emeritus of the American Bible Society from 1919 to 1925. Additionally, in 1893, Wood was asked to present the “views and ideals of the Society of Friends at the Congress of Religions held at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago.” (ABS) He also wrote a pamphlet entitled “The Distinguished Doctrines of the Religious Society of Friends,” in 1898. In 1902, Wood and his daughter Carolena served as delegates to the 4th Quinquennial Conference of the Society of Friends in Indianapolis.
Wood died on December 19, 1925 in Mt. Kisco, New York. According to the American Bible Society, James Wood’s grandson, (also named James Wood), followed his grandfather by graduating from Haverford College in 1950, serving as a trustee of Bryn Mawr College, and as President of the American Bible Society from 1984 to 1989. Wood is remembered as someone “who served his church on a national and world level as well as in his own community,” (ABS, p. 14).
American Bible History. http://www.americanbiblehistory.com/james_wood.html (accessed July 7, 2010).
American Bible Society Remembrance of James Wood, undated (Box 1).
Jones, Rufus M. "James Wood," The American Friend, Vol. XIII, No. 53, December 25, 1925.