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Taylor Family papers

Identifier: HC.MC-962

Scope and Contents

These papers give a picture of the social, business, religious, and emotional relationships of two closely connected Quaker families, the Taylors and the Shoemakers, beginning in Burlington, N.J., and Philadelphia in the early 19th Century and extending westward, as Abraham Merritt Taylor (1799-1873) went to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1825, founded a tanning business there, and eventually brought his friend Isaac Shoemaker and his brothers, Dr. Joseph W. Taylor and Jacob M. Taylor, to Cincinnati and took them into partnership. The business grew until it had branches in several mid-western cities. For the next 25 years, both the families had ties in both the mid-West and the Philadelphia area. In 1851, the partnership was dissolved, and Dr. Joseph Taylor returned to the East; he was followed, a few years later, by his brothers, who settled near him in Burlington, N.J.

The westward expansion of the 1840s, `50s, and `60's is reflected in these papers in the letters of various members of the families who traveled to Colorado and California for their health, and nephew Walter Hinchman's letters, telling of the surveying of the route for the Acheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. Sheep-raising in Illinois, the 1849 gold rush to California, Indigenous American raids, ranch life, and conditions in the growing metropolis of San Francisco are touched on.

The Civil War years bring us the correspondence of the Contraband Relief Commission, of which Abraham Taylor was Chairman and Isaac Shoemaker was an active member, an organization that provided relief for individuals who escaped slavery to Union territory during the war (who were referred to as "contraband"). This period also brings us the correspondence of the American Freedmen's Aid Commission, with which they were concerned, as well as many scattered paragraphs in letters from members of the Taylor family in Burlington to Joseph Wright Taylor, who was in England at the outbreak of the War. This material reflects these Friends' concern for peace and for the liberation and welfare of African Americans in the South.

A number of letters in the late 1870s, addressed to Dr. Joseph W. Taylor, from contractors, civil engineers, educators, and others, concern his preparations for the founding of Bryn Mawr College. The collection also includes his travel diaries, 1849 and 1861-62, and a notebook of notes on Dr. Chapman's lectures in medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, 1829.

Chief correspondents in the collection are Charles H. Shoemaker, Isaac Shoemaker, Abraham Merritt Taylor, Elizabeth Robeson (Shoemaker) Taylor, his wife, Hannah Taylor, his sister, Dr. Joseph Wright Taylor, and Thomas Wistar Jr. (The latter took a very personal interest in defending members of the Taylor family, especially Abraham and Elizabeth, in the lawsuit brought against them by Morgan Hinchman, husband of Margaretta (Shoemaker) Hinchman, for having had him certified as insane and committed to the Friends' Asylum, Frankford, Pa., in 1847.)

This collection is closely related to the Allinson Family Papers (Coll. no. 968)

A subsidiary collection, 962-A, which follows the main collection, consists of genealogical material on the Taylor, Shoemaker, and Allinson families.


  • Creation: 1755 - 1930


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Standard Federal Copyright Law apply (U.S. Title 17)

Biographical / Historical

Joseph Wright Taylor (1810-1880) was the son of Quakers, Edward Taylor, M.D. and Sarah Merritt Taylor. He received a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1830 with a thesis on opium. He lived and practiced briefly in Germantown, Pa. In 1831, he served as a doctor aboard a trading vessel going to Calcutta, India. After his return to the U.S., he joined his two brothers in Cincinnati, OH in a tannery business, and having made a success in the business, retired to Burlington, N. J. In 1854, he was invited to the Board of Managers of Haverford College and began to work on behalf of Quaker education, eventually helping to establish Bryn Mawr College.


3.3 linear ft. (8 boxes)

Language of Materials



Papers realted to the 19th-century Quaker Shoemaker and Taylor families of Burlington, NJ and Philadelphia and their westward movement to begin a business in Ohio. They deal also with such varied topics as surveying, sheep raising, the Contraband Relief Commission, the establishment of Bryn Mawr College and the mental hospital Friends' Asylum. Prominent correspondents are Abraham Merritt Taylor, Joseph Wright Taylor, Isaac Shoemaker, Charles Shoemaker and Thomas Wistar Jr.

Related Materials

This collection is closely related to the Allinson Family Papers (Coll. no. 968). A subsidiary collection, 962-A, which follows the main collection, consists of genealogical material on the Taylor, Shoemaker, and Allinson families. See also: Commonplace books of Elizabeth R. Shoemaker Taylor in 975 C.

Taylor Family papers, 1755-1930
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

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

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 or requesting repoductions from Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

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