Scope and Contents
Alice C. Paxson Hadley (1857-1919) was a founding member of the Thread and Needle Society, a social and charitable club of young Philadelphia Hicksite Friends. Alice kept a diary that recorded events and meetings of the group 1873 to 1880 which were transcribed by her great-granddaughter, and she collected memorabilia and speeches she presented. The collection offers insight into the social life of Philadelphia young Quakers, concentrating on close friendships and family connections.
Biographical / Historical
Alice C. Paxson (1857-1919) was the daughter of Frederick Paxson and Lydia Betts Paxson, Philadelphia Hicksite Quakers. She was a founding member of the Thread and Needle Society where she met her future husband through mutual friends. Alice married Walter Hadley (1857-1896), an Indiana Quaker, in 1883, and they lived in New Mexico where Walter managed a mining operation. She was widowed 1896 and moved to Swarthmore, purchasing house at 411 Colllege Avenue next-door to the home where her older brother, Charles Paxson, lived with his wife and her parents, Thomas Heston Hall and Lydia Cox Hall. The Halls were early residents of Swarthmore, and their daughter Alice (1868-1955) graduated from Swarthmore College as did her four siblings.
Alice and Walter Hadley had one child, Caroline (1885-1946). Caroline graduated from Swarthmore College in 1906 and married Louis N. Robinson, Class of 1905, a prominent economist and penologist. In 1952, Louis Robinson bequeathed the house to Swarthmore College in memory of his wife. The extended family has many connections with Swarthmore College.
The Thread and Needle Society began as a sewing group established in the fall of 1873 by young Philadelphia Hicksite Quaker women. The group met in members' homes twice a month. After spending the afternoon sewing clothing for a family in need, they shared supper and were joined by young men socializing and participating in programs organized by members. On special occasions, the group met for dancing, picnics or other outings.
Alice enjoyed a close circle of friendship with the Smyth, Cooper, Ferris, and Paxson families of Philadelphia. She was especially close to her siblings, Charles (born 1855), Anna ("Nan," born 1852), and Mary (born 1860), all of whom were members of the Thread and Needle. Some of the members were classmates at Friends Central School or members of the Young People's Temperance Union. Many were related, and all were unmarried at the time they joined the group. A number of members were introduced to their future spouses through the Society. Members resigned when they married, but were welcome at the annual meeting. In 1884, with few of the original members still attending, the group disbanded. They agreed to hold annual meetings; the last year of the announcements is 1897.