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Josiah W. Leeds scrapbooks

Identifier: HC.MC-1102

Scope and Contents

Twenty-two scrapbooks of correspondence of Josiah Woodward Leeds with persons involved in the social reform movements of the late 19th century as well as clippings from newspapers, periodicals and journals of articles and editorials written by Leeds and articles on topics of interest to him.

Correspondence (ca. 2,000 letters) relates to his reform activities and includes letters from John Bellows, George Dana Boardman, Gertrude Whittier Cartland, Anthony Comstock, Wilbur F. Crafts, John H. Dillingham, Neal Dow, Elizabeth E. Flagg, Anna A. Gordon, William Torrey Harris, Herman Haupt, Alfred H. Love, Thomas Meehan, Clement B. Penrose, Jonathan E. Rhoads, Theodore Roosevelt, George J. Scattergood, Isaac Sharpless, Clarkson Sheppard, Hannah Whitall Smith, William Tallack, William P. Townsend, Benjamin Franklin Trueblood, John Wanamaker, Herbert Welsh, John Greenleaf Whittier, Frances E. Willard, Julia McNair Wright and others.

Tracts written by Leeds are also to be found in these books. Leeds's scrapbooks reflect his views on what was wrong with society at the end of the 19th century. The topics represented in the scrapbooks cover a wide variety of "vices" and their proposed remedies.

Some areas of interest to Leeds included temperance work, peace, crime, prison reform and the abolition of the death penalty, plain attire, John Wycliffe, simplicity of worship and legislation to control "vice."

He was also a crusader for "social purity" and some of the areas he saw danger in included the following: novels and other "pernicious literature," "immoral" post cards, posters and handbills, the theater, ballet and opera, "wild west shows" and their relationship to Native Americans, paintings and statues, all forms of gambling (especially lotteries, horse-racing, contests and card games), the use of "charity balls" as fund-raisers and the propriety of accepting "tainted" money for charity work, college football, bicycle riding, boxing, tobacco, secret societies (especially the Masons, Elks and fraternities) and the glorification of the military (especially with young people as in military exercises at West Point and the formation of organized "boys' brigades").


  • Creation: 1872-1907


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical / Historical

Josiah Woodward Leeds (1841-­1908) was the son of Benjamin S. Leeds. Born in Philadelphia, he moved to West Chester, Pa. in 1868 and joined the Society of Friends in 1870. In 1871 he married Deborah Ann Crenshaw of Virginia and they moved to Germantown (Philadelphia, Pa.). In 1877 he published a United States history textbook notable for its lack of battle illustrations. This volume was followed in 1882 with a smaller version suitable for intermediate grades. Leeds moved to "Rocouncey," near Birmingham Meeting House, Chester County, Pa. in 1890. He was the author of numerous tracts and was active in his opposition to what he perceived as damaging to the public welfare.


4 linear ft. (22 volumes, 1 box)

Language of Materials



Twenty-two scrapbooks of correspondence (circa 2,000 letters) of Josiah Woodward Leeds (1841-1908) with persons involved in the social reform movements of the late 19th century as well as tracts and clippings of articles and editorials written by Leeds and articles on topics of interest to him.

Related Materials

Additional Josiah W. Leeds material may be found in Josiah Woodward Leeds papers, 1875-­1902 (part of Quaker Miscellany, Ms. Coll. 950) and in 975A, Diary and journal collection (Josiah W. Leeds, 3 account books of his tract publication acounts, 1877­-1893).

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Josiah W. Leeds scrapbooks, 1872-1907
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Revision Statements

  • May 2022: by Nathaniel Rehm-Daly, Harmful Language Revision Project

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