Biographical / Historical
Mary Thomson Sullivan was born May 9, 1906, the daughter of Marshall Phillips Sullivan and Alice Thomson Sullivan, members of Abington Monthly Meeting and prominent residents of Elkins Park, Pa.. Her paternal grandparents were Joseph T. and Sarah Rogers Sullivan of Moorestown, NJ. Her maternal grandparents were Thomas and Mary Eyre Thomson. Both sides of the family came from a long line of Quakers.
Mary Sullivan attended Abington Friends School and graduated from the George School. She was a graduate of Swarthmore College, Class of 1928, and the first woman to edit the College newspaper. She was active in Quaker organizations and was a Young Friends delegate to the 1924 Friends Conference in London and attended the World Youth Peace Conference in 1928 in Holland.
In 1930, she married Henry Carter Patterson (1889-1972), and they had three children: Alice, Jane, and Robert. Henry had joined the Society of Friends in 1918. He was an insurance executive and active in race relations; in particular he was the Philadelphia director of the United Negro College Fund and aided the relocation of Japanese American to the Philadelphia area during WWII. The family settled in Swarthmore, Pa. Mary Sullivan Patterson served as president of the Board of Trustees of the Schofield Normal and Industrial School, 1936-1946. She was an avid genealogist and worked as a genealogist for Friends Historical Library 1952-1957. In 1957, she resigned from professional genealogy to concentrate on researching Quaker immigration from England, her own family research, and local historic preservation.
In 1957, she spent several months in England researching Quaker records. In her later years, she devoted much of her energy to historic preservation efforts in Delaware County, Pa. She was the driving force to save the Caleb Pusey House and served as chairman for fundraising for the restoration of the 1724 Chester County Courthouse and the Carter Cemetery in Chester Township. She served as a board member for the Delaware County Historical Society, was founder of Historic Delaware County Society which organized Open House Days in the 1960s, and she served on the Delaware County Heritage Committee.
She lived her final years in the Hickman, Friends Boarding Home, in West Chester, Pa., and died December 1987.