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Archives & Manuscripts

Bassett-Little Family Papers

 Collection
Identifier: SFHL-RG5-277
The collection contain papers of the Bassett and Little families who resided in Swarthmore, Pa., in the first half of the twentieth century. In the 1980s, May Virginia Bassett Little (1913-1994) created a series of family scrapbooks accompanied by short memoirs and excerpts from her diaries. Her father was a birthright Quaker, and the family had deep roots in Swarthmore College and the Borough of Swarthmore. Her husband, Ralph V. Little, Jr., (1909-2001), also was raised in Swarthmore. Their son, Donald Townsend Little, continued his mother's interest in autobiography and compiling family history.

Dates

  • ca. 1923-2015

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.

Extent

4.75 Linear Feet (10 boxes)

Overview

The collection contain papers of the Bassett and Little families who resided in Swarthmore, Pa., in the first half of the twentieth century. In the 1980s, May Virginia Bassett Little (1913-1994) created a series of family scrapbooks accompanied by short memoirs and excerpts from her diaries. Her father was a birthright Quaker, and the family had deep roots in Swarthmore College and the Borough of Swarthmore. Her husband, Ralph V. Little, Jr., (1909-2001), also was raised in Swarthmore. Their son, Donald Townsend Little, continued his mother's interest in autobiography and compiling family history.

Biographical / Historical

May Virginia Bassett Little was born March 10, 1913, and died Sept. 4, 1994. She was the daughter of Dr. Arthur E. Bassett (1886-1951), a dentist and prominent Swarthmore, Pa., resident, and Vernon Rose (Waddell) Bassett (1887-1955).

Arthur E. Bassett was the son of Franklin Lippincott Bassett (1855-1929) and Anna Elgar (Hallowell) Bassett, Philadelphia Quakers. Anna was the daughter of John Elgar Hallowell (1838-1856) and Anna Wilson Townsend (1836-1878). John Elgar Hallowell was the son of Benjamin Hallowell (1799-1877), renowned Quaker educator. Anna Wilson Townsend was the daughter of Edward Townsend (1807-1896), a Philadelphia Quaker dentist involved in the education of African-Americans, prison reform, and a school for the blind. He served as warden of Eastern State Penitentiary in 1870-1881.

Franklin Bassett graduated from Swarthmore College in 1876 and practiced dentistry in Philadelphia. The family transferred their memberships from Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Hicksite) to Swarthmore Monthly Meeting in 1895 and lived on 513 Walnut Lane. In 1914, the family removed to Salem Monthly Meeting. N.J. Anna Bassett returned to Swarthmore Monthly Meeting in 1949 and died in the Hickman Home in West Chester.

Vernon Rose Waddell (1889-1955) was the daughter of James A. Waddell and May Virginia Rose. Her mother died in 1895, and Vernon first lived with her mother's parents and sister at 422 Harvard Avenue, Swarthmore, and subsequently with her mother's other sister, Vernon (Rose) Geddes who lived across the street at 417 Harvard. Vernon and her husband, Frank H. Geddes raised her namesake as their own daughter. Their son, F. Bramwell Geddes, married Vernon Waddell Bassett's cousin, Alice Worth. Vernon Waddell attended Swarthmore College in the Class of 1912 and married Arthur Bassett in 1910. Alice Worth Geddess graduated in the Class of 1908, and her husband, F. Bramwell Geddess, was in the Class of 1905.

While Arthur Bassett remained a member of the Society of Friends until his death in 1951, Vernon, who had been raised a Baptist, became a member of Swarthmore Presbyterian Church. Vernon and Arthur Bassett moved to 307 N. Chester Road in 1916, where they lived the remainder of their lives.

The extended Swarthmore family also included Vernon's uncle, Herbert T. Bassett, and his wife Mary Ramsay Bassett (Swarthmore Class of 1912) who lived in the Ramsay family home on North Chester Road. Virginia's sister, Barbara, married David West Cochrane. He was the long-time clerk of the Swarthmore Camera Shop.

Virginia Bassett married Ralph V. Little, Jr. (1909-2001) in 1937. An electrical engineer, he was the son of Ralph V. Little and Helen Druary Little who also lived in Swarthmore and were members of the Swarthmore Presbyterian Church. Ralph graduated from Penn State University in 1933 and worked for RCA in Camden. Virginia and Ralph lived in Swarthmore for fifteen years and had three children: Donald Townsend, Shirley, and Janet. They moved to Ohio in 1957. In 1974, they moved to Central Pennsylvania, and in 1985, to a retirement home in Blue Bell, Pa.

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Donald T. Little, 2011-2016

Existence and Location of Copies

The scrapbooks were published with annotations and writings by Donald T. Little, Virginia's World & Pathways Beyond (2008). Volume 2 contains additional biogrraphical information about Vernon and Arthur Bassett and other family members.

Related Materials

Virginia Bassett Little Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Separated Materials

After a photocopy was made of the entirety, the original photographs in May Virginia Bassett Little's scrapbooks were removed to PA 154 and a detailed inventory created. The photograph albums compiled by Donald T. Little were added to PA 154 as well as a small photo album of Rose Family Photographs, ca. 1904-1905, mostly taken in Swarthmore, Pa. Two cased photographs were removed to PA 107: A tarnished daguerreotype of Elizabeth Clark Townsend, dated 1873, and an ambrotype of a seated woman, possibly Ruth Korns.

Processing Information

Received in 10 "magnetic" binders with one bound acidic scrapbook and a folder of loose photographs. The memoirs and scrapbooks were reproduced with annotationsa and additions by her son, Donald T. Little, in 2008. For preservation purposes, the manuscript material was removed and acid-free photocopies made of the scrapbooks. This material is stored as RG 5/277 which was originally cataloged as the May Virginia Bassett Little Album Collection. In 2011, Donald Little added a family tree compiled by his mother and an original photo albumm of the Rose family of Swarthmore. Two additional oversized scrapbooks and related travel diaries added to the collection in 2012. Donald Little deposited additional photo albums and his personal papers in 2013, 2014, and 2016. The collection was renamed Bassett-Little Family Papers, and a new finding aid produced. The original photographs were removed from the binders and stored with Picture Collections as PA 154.
Title
An Inventory of the Bassett-Little Family Papers, ca. 1923-2015
Author
FHL staff
Date
2016
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 2016: This electronic finding aid was updated in Summer 2016 by Abdulrezak Kemal in preparation for importing into ArchivesSpace, to conform to current markup standards and the ArchivesSpace data model.

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 Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library

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