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Anna Wharton Morris Papers

 Collection
Identifier: SFHL-RG5-106
Anna Wharton Morris (1868-1957) was the youngest daughter of industrialist and philanthropist Joseph Wharton. A birthright member of the Society of Friends, she was active in the prison reform movement and was a prolific writer. Her husband, Harrison S. Morris (1856-1948), was a businessman, author, editor, critic, and arts administrator. The collection includes her diaries and journals which were maintained almost continuously from 1884 to 1956, correspondence sent, manuscript writings, and miscellaneous materials. This material documents the life of an extraordinary woman and is particularly strong in the areas of prison reform, the arts in Philadelphia and Newport, and in the social history of the Philadelphia upper class.

In addition, the collection includes eighteenth and nineteenth Wharton Family historical papers concerning many of the same individuals who are also represented in two related collection, the Deborah Fisher Wharton Papers (RG 5/161) and the Joseph Wharton Papers (RG 5/162). Also of particularly significance is the large collection of photographs which visually documents the extended family and their properties. The photographs are housed separately in PA 65. Together, these collections contain material with exceptional depth on the Wharton family and its extended branches.

This collection was donated to Friends Historical Library in memory of Catharine Morris Wright and Sidney L. Wright by their children. A closely related collection at FHL with the same provenance is the Joseph Wharton Papers (RG 5/162). Researchers also should note that the papers of Harrison S. Morris are deposited at Princeton University. The Osborne Family Papers, including the bulk of Thomas Mott Osborne's correspondence and writing, are in the George Arents Research Library of Syracuse University.

Corespondents include Frank Aydelotte, Cecilia Beaux, J. Howard Benson, Edward Bok, Elizabeth Powell Bond, G. Edwin Brumbaugh, William Merritt Chase, Isaac H. Clothier, Florence Earle Coates, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Maud Howe Elliott, William Hubben, Emory R. Johnson, Robert U. Johnson, Florence Bayard Kane, Alfred H. Love, Anna Lea Merritt, John W. Nason, Thornton Oakley, Violet Oakley, Elizabeth Robins Pennell, Lizette Woodworth Reese, Agnes Repplier, Felix E. Schelling, Theophilia B. Stork, James M. Stork, Thomas Wallace Swann, Florence Emily Taylor, Anne Traubel, Gertude Traubel, J. William White, Francis Howard Williams, and Owen and Sarah Wister. A more complete index is attached to this checklist.

Dates

  • 1729-1957

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 of 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

35 Linear Feet (68 boxes)

Overview

Anna Wharton Morris was the youngest daughter of Joseph Wharton, prominent Philadelphia industrialist and philanthropist. She was a birthright member of the Society of Friends, active in prison reform and other social reform movements of her day, and was a profilic writer, primarily of short stories and essays. In 1896, she married Harrison S. Morris, Philadelphia author and arts administrator, and they had one child, Catharine Morris Wright. The collection includes her diaries and journals, maintained almost continuously from 1884 to 1956, correspondence received, her manuscript writings, and other miscellaneous materials. Of particular interest is material on the prison reform movement, particularly the correspondence of Thomas Mott Osborne. Other correspondents include Emily Sartain, Thomas Wallace Swann, J. William White, Francis Howard Williams, Sarah Butler and Owen Wister, George W. Kirchwey, Gertrude and Anne Montgomerie Traubel, James Moore Swank, Charles Wharton Stork, Felix Schelling, Agnes Repplier, Lizette Woodworth Reese, Elizabeth Robins Pennell, Thornton and Violet Oakley, John W. Nason, R. Tait McKenzie, Frank Aydelotte, Cecilia Beaux, John Howard Benson, Nicholas Biddle, Edward William Bok, Elizabeth Powell Bond, G. Edwin Brumbaugh, William Merritt Chase, and many others. The collection also includes some Wharton family historical materials, including Thomas Gilpin's manuscript of his Exiles in Virginia.

Biographical / Historical

Anna Wharton was born in Philadelphia on July 15, 1868. Her father, Joseph Wharton (1826-1909), was a wealthy industrialist. He married Anna Corbit Lovering (1830-1914) in 1854 at the Cherry Street Meeting House in Philadelphia. Two children preceeded Anna: Joanna (1858-1938), who married Joshua Bertram Lippincott in 1885, and Mary Lovering (1862-1923), who never married. The Whartons moved to Ontalauna near Old York Road, Philadelphia, in 1881. Their summer residence, Marbella, was at Conanicut, west of Newport, Rhode Island.

Anna was educated at Mrs. Head's School in Germantown and took private lessons in French and music. In June of 1896, Anna Wharton married Harrison Smith Morris, son of George Washington Morris and his wife, Catharine (Harris) Morris. Even though Morris was not a Friend, Green Street Monthly Meeting gave permission for the marriage to proceed under the care of the Meeting. The service took place at her father's house in the Quaker manner with over 140 witnesses. Anna Wharton Morris remained a member of Green Street Monthly Meeting and was active in the Society of Friends throughout her life.

Harrison S. Morris was born in Philadelphia on October 4, 1856. He had two younger sisters, Matilda Harris Morris and Jane Walters Morris, who never married. At the age of sixteen he went to work for the Reading Coal & Iron Company to help support his parents, who were in ill health. In 1893 he became the managing director of the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts, a position which he held until 1905. Morris also served as editor of Lippincott's Magazine, art editor of the Ladies Home Journal, and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the National Academy of Design. From 1909-1917 he was president of the Wharton Steel Company. His activities brought him in contact with leaders in the artistic and literary world. He also wrote and published his own works, in both English and Italian, on Roman history, literature, and culture, as well as at least 17 volumes of poetry, fiction, and essays.

Anna and Harrison's only child, Catharine Wharton Morris, nicknamed "Kit," was born on Jan. 26, 1899. In April 1905, Anna underwent a hysterectomy, the first of a number of surgeries and hospital stays that are documented in the Journals. The Morris family traveled to Europe in 1906, 1910, 1911 (when Harrison was appointed as United States Commissioner for the International Exhibition of Art and History in Rome), and 1914 (when they witnessed the beginning of World War I in France). These trips and the visit to California in 1917 are described in separate travel journals. At home, Anna wrote numerous essays, short stories, and poetry, and participated in Philadelphia's rich social and cultural life. Home was at the "Annex" on the Wharton property near Old York Road until 1926 and then "Pear Hill."

In 1913, Anna Wharton Morris became deeply interested in prison reform. This concern probably stemmed from her horror over newspaper reports of cruelty to the young inmates at Glen Mills. In 1914, she met Thomas Mott Osborne, the famous prison reform advocate; the two formed a close friendship which lasted until his sudden death in 1926. Anna's reports of conditions in prisons throughout the country and, particularly, in the Philadelphia region, are preserved in her journals.

In 1925, "Kit" married Sydney Longstreth Wright, Jr., the son of Mr. & Mrs. William Redwood Wright of "Waldheim" in Germantown. Harrison Smith Morris died on April 12, 1948. Anna Wharton Morris died on June 21, 1957, at the age of eighty-eight. Catharine "Kit" Morris Wright died in 1988.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into eight series:
  1. Wharton Family Historical Materials
  2. Wharton Family Business and Estate Papers
  3. Journals & Day Books 1883-1956
  4. Correspondence Received, 1877-1956
  5. Other Writings, 1884-1948 & n.d.
  6. Prison Reform Activities
  7. Miscellaneous, 1877-1953
  8. Pictures

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor: Gift of the grandchildren of Anna Wharton Morris: Harrison Morris Wright, Anna W. Templeton-Cotill, W. Redwood Wright, and Ellicott Wright in memory of their parents, Sydney L. and Catharine Morris Wright 1991-1997, 2012

Date: 1991-1997

Accession number(s): 91.24; 92.28; 94.011, 048; 95.004, 97.012, 97.014
Immediate Source of Acquisition Donors are grandchildren of Anna Wharton Morris

Related Materials

See also:
  1. A closely related collection at FHL with the same provenance is the Joseph Wharton Papers (RG 5/162). See also Deborah Fisher Wharton Papers (RG 5/161).
  2. Researchers also should note that the papers of Harrison S. Morris are deposited at Princeton University. The Osborne Family Papers, including the bulk of Thomas Mott Osborne's correspondence and writing, are in the George Arents Research Library of Syracuse University.

Separated Materials

The following material, originally part of the collection, has been removed and recatalogued:
  1. The photographs are housed separately in PA 75. See separate checklist.
Memorabilia removed to Relics:
  1. Silver spoon enclosed in letter from Rosalie Regen (see General Correspondence) with Wharton coat-of-arms; Needlepoint piece "Worked by my aunt Mary Rodman and given to me on my visit to New Bedford after our marriage 1817," note attached in Deborah F. Wharton's handwriting; 8-1/2 square fine knitting with note attached: "Knit by Ann Denny of Smyrna Del in her 104th year and sent to her friend Deborah F.Wharton...."
  2. Silk hankie with embroidered edelweiss and "Mary L. Wharton."
  3. Fine lace butterfly; "Anna C. Loverings lace": Two hankies and two fine lace pieces.

Processing Information

Received unprocessed but partially sorted into bundles by Anna Wharton Morris. Later accessions partially sorted by Harrison Wright and other family members. Subsequent additions added to Collection. Photographs and relics stored separately.

Creator

Title
An Inventory of the Anna Wharton Morris Papers, 1729-1957
Author
POD
Date
1998
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English
Sponsor
Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries

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.

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