Scope and Contents
The collection contains correspondence, diaries and notebooks, official and unofficial biographical documents, a small number of photographs, and published materials, all by or about John F. Rich. The materials are organized thematically by these categories. In addition, there is one folder of correspondence and official documents by and about Virginia P. Rich, written after John Rich’s death, and one folder of miscellaneous documents.
Correspondence is further divided into letters from or to John F. Rich. There are copies of five letters written by Rich to his wife, Virginia, in 1943, while he is travelling in India and China with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). There are also excerpts from letters written to Angeline Di Tullio in 1972 by John Rich, while he is travelling in the United Kingdom.
Three personal diaries are included. The first details Rich’s time in Spain working with the AFSC. The second covers Rich’s travels to India and China in 1943, again with the AFSC. The collection also contains a notebook from Rich’s visit to China, including examples of official Chinese character seals. The third diary spans 1941-1946 (except for the time covered in the second diary). Rich was in the United States working as public relations director for the AFSC during this time until 1944, when he began working closely with AFSC operations based in England, and travelled there frequently as a result. This collection also includes a travel itinerary and addresses of contacts for one such trip to England.
The official biographical documents cover the entire span of John Rich’s life. These include his birth certificate, an official letter certifying Rich’s completion of a bachelor’s degree at Haverford, naturalization and name-change certificates, official AFSC identification documents, John and Virginia Rich’s marriage certificate, and official documents pertaining to John Rich’s death.
The unofficial biographical documents include résumés and biographical notes written at various points during Rich’s adult life, as well as a transcript of a short interview conducted in 1972. There are also partially completed forms and applications containing biographical information, and a transcription of the birth records of John Rich and his siblings, copied out of the family Bible.
There is a photographic portrait of John Rich, taken for AFSC records in 1943, as well as a cloth AFSC patch. The rest of the photographs show Rich, his family, and friends. There are fourteen photographs of Rich’s son, Edward P. Rich, which Rich carried with him when he travelled in India and China in 1943-4, as well as a portrait of Edward Rich as an adult, in 1989.
The publications are further divided into works written by John F. Rich, about John F. Rich, and official AFSC publications from the time Rich was working with the organization. Publications by Rich include articles written for AFSC newsletters and for the newsletter of Rich’s own consulting firm, the John F. Rich Company. Publications about Rich include newspaper articles about his travels with the AFSC, announcements of Rich’s departure from the AFSC and foundation of the John F. Rich Company, and descriptions of work done by the John F. Rich Company. The AFSC publications include pamphlets about AFSC programs in Pennsylvania, Latin America, and India.
In addition to these materials relating to John F. Rich, there is a small amount of materials gathered by Virginia P. Rich after John Rich’s death in 1973. These include mainly personal correspondence, as well as the marriage certificate from Virginia Rich’s marriage to Charles Willis Edgerton in 1976.
There is one folder of miscellaneous materials. These are a memorial card for Esther Mary Tucker, an index card reading, “Director, Rotary Foundation of Phila Inc. 12/16/66,” and a partially completed Statement of Personal History by Edward P. Rich, John F. Rich’s son. In a separate box is a marble paperweight bearing the Rotary International seal.
John Frederick Rich was born to Max Isaac Reich and Esther Mary Lorenzen Reich on June 1, 1902, in London, England. He immigrated to the United States in 1915, and was naturalized as a citizen in 1928. He married Virginia Elizabeth Percy in the same year, and had two children: Edward Percy Rich (b.1931, Haverford class of 1953) and Elizabeth Lorenzen Rich (b. 1934). The family legally changed their last name from Reich to Rich in 1939. John Rich died on April 21, 1973, in Athens, Greece. After his death, in June 1976, Virginia Rich married Charles Willis Edgerton, Haverford class of 1914.
John Rich attended the Westtown School in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1920, and Haverford College, receiving his B.A. in 1924. After leaving Haverford, he taught school briefly before becoming a reporter for the Evening Public Ledger in Philadelphia from 1925 (some sources say 1926) to 1929, and later joining the public relations staff at the Bell Telephone Company. In 1936 he was appointed public relations director and relief administrator for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). In this capacity, Rich travelled to carry out and oversee relief work in Spain from 1937 to 1939 and in China and India in 1943. He also worked closely with AFSC operations out of England from 1944 to 1946. After, in 1946, Rich founded the John F. Rich Company, based in Philadelphia, which offered consulting services in fund-raising and public relations. Ten years later, in 1956, Rich founded the John F. Rich Company, Ltd., in London, offering the same consulting services as the Philadelphia company. Rich was the honorary secretary of the British Schools and Universities Foundation, Inc., in New York, and served as a trustee of the British Cathedrals and Historic Churches Foundation, Inc. He was also a member of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia.