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Branson-Jackson Family Papers

Identifier: SFHL-RG5-016

Scope and Contents

This collection consists primarily of the correspondence, journals, and memorabilia of Anna Margaret (Davis) Jackson (1848-1920) and her daughter, Anna Morris (Jackson) Branson Theiss (1881-1960), Quaker activists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It also includes related materials of the Davis, Price, Jackson, and Fox families as well as some correspondence of William M. Jackson and memorabilia of Anna Florence (Branson) Boardman, and Myron Lewis Boardman. There are significant materials relating to prison reform, women's suffrage, peace, and equal rights for black Americans in New York City in the late 19th century, Quaker activities throughout the period, the Schofield Normal and Industrial School in the late 19th century, and Swarthmore College in the 1890's and 1930's. Correspondents include Mrs. Sarah J. Bird, Samuel J. Barrows, Kate Bond, Joel Bean, Elizabeth Powell Bond, William W. Birdsall, Cornelia Bowen, George Gordon Bennett, Harriet Stanton Blaton, Antoinette Blackwell, Ellen Collins, Susan J. Cunningham, Isaac Clothier, Anna J. Cooper, Grace H. Dodge, W.E.B. DuBois, Phebe A. Hanaford, Cornelia Hancock, Josephine Shaw Lowell, Jacob A. Riis, Belle deRivera, Theodore Roosevelt (as New York Police Commissioner and President), Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Schofield, Fanny G. Villard, Stephen Samuel Wise, Booker T. Washington, Rosalie Loew Whitney, and Alice L. Woodbridge.


  • Creation: 1794-1962


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Explore Digitized Content

Note that much of Series 2 (Anna Margaret (Davis) Jackson, 1848-1920) has been digitized and is available in our Digital Library. Explore this collection online.

Conditions Governing Use

Some of the items in this collection may be protected by copyright. The user is solely responsible for making a final determination of copyright status. If copyright protection applies, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns to reuse, publish, or reproduce relevant items beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to the law. See

Biographical / Historical

Anna Margaret “Nan” Davis was the daughter of David H. Davis, a New York textile merchant, and Susan (Price) Davis. Her father's sister, Elizabeth Ann, married the architect, William Eyre, and her mother's father, Ichabod Price, was a prominent New York City hatter. Anna M. Davis was born on May 15, 1848, in Greenwich Village and graduated from New York Friends Seminary in 1864. In 1869, she married William Morris Jackson, who had been a teacher at that school, and they moved to Richmond, Indiana, where Jackson was appointed Principal of Friends Academy. Seven years later they returned to New York City when William Jackson decided to leave teaching as a career and joined his bother, Edwin Atlee Jackson, in partnership in the family business of manufacturing fireplace accessories.

Anna Margaret Jackson was deeply involved in reform activities in New York City. She served as Chairman of the Women's Prison Reform Committee and was involved with the Woman's Municipal League of the City of New York. She was on the Boards of the Colored Orphan Asylum in New York City and of the Schofield Normal and Industrial School from before 1902 until her death in 1920. Both she and her husband served as Delegates to the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893 and to the World's Peace Conference held in Cleveland. She was a Charter member of the Political Study Club of New York. She became involved in the Young Friends Aid Association after her sister's death, was active in the Friends Temperance Union, and was on the Peace Committee of New York Yearly Meeting. She attended the First Day School General Conference in Yarmouth, Ontario, in 1888, and from that time until her death continued to attend and work toward development and improvement of what became the Friends General Conferences.

The bulk of her correspondence in this collection involves prison reform for women and includes letters from other prominent female reformers as well as prison and municipal officials.

William M. Jackson

William M. Jackson (1937-1919) was the son of James M. and Mary Ann (King) Jackson of Philadelphia and later of Richland, Pennsylvania. He served on the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College from 1887 until his death in 1906 and on the Board of Schofield Normal and Industrial School from 1887 or 1888 until after 1892. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Friends Seminary in New York.

Anna Morris Jackson Branson Theiss

Anna Morris Jackson, nicknamed “Pansy,” was born in New York City on Dec. 27, 1881, the youngest child of William Morris and Anna Margaret Jackson. Although she was not a birthright Quaker because her mother did not join Friends until 1890, her name was entered into the rolls of New York Monthly Meeting soon after her birth in 1882. She attended Friends Seminary, the Chappaqua Mountain Institute, and then Swarthmore College for two years. At the latter she was a member of Pi Beta Phi, the Joseph Leidy Scientific Society, and the Somerville Literary Society, but left in 1902 after a nervous breakdown. In 1909, she earned a B.S. in Education from Columbia University. After graduation she went on to establish a domestic science Department in the Mt. Vernon, New York, public schools and taught at Butler High School in New Jersey.

Anna Morris Jackson married Charles Fox Branson, the son of Lindley M. Branson and Anna Miller (Fox) of Cadiz, Ohio, at the Friends Meeting house in New York City on 4mo 30 1910. Their daughter, Anna Florence, was born in Pittsburgh in 1913, and son, Charles F. Jr., in Cleveland in 1916; the latter died within a month of his birth. The Bransons remained in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania until the early 1920's; in 1922, Anna M. Branson was received on certificate from New York Monthly Meeting (she never transferred her membership to Ohio) by Green Street Monthly Meeting in Philadelphia, and her husband was received by Green Street from Short Creek Monthly Meeting in 1924. She attended Summer School at Pendle Hill in 1935. Some time in the 1930's, Charles F. Branson moved to California where he died in 1945. The couple was divorced in 1939, and she remarried Dr. Lewis E. Theiss, head of the Department of Journalism at Bucknell University, on June 9, 1939. She transferred her membership from Green Street to Millville Monthly Meeting in 1944.

Anna Branson Theiss helped to organize the Inter-Racial Committee of Philadelphia and chaired it for three years. This bi-racial group included Leslie Pinckney Hill, Hannah Clothier Hull, and other religious, educational, and civic leaders; its stated purpose was to establish “contacts and [to] educat[e] each race in the viewpoint of the other.” At this time, Anna was Chairman of the Division of Work Among Colored People for Friends General Conference (1922). Her activities within the Society of Friends were extensive. In 1920, she attended the first All Friends Conference in London. She served as Chairman of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Committee on the Interests of the Colored Race (1925-29) and was the first Chairman of the Intervisitation Committee of the Fellowship Council of AFSC (1936-39?), working to accommodate visitors at the Second World Conference at Swarthmore and Haverford Colleges in 1937. She also was Chairman of the Epistle Committee for several years and Assistant Clerk of Ministry and Counsel of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. On a local level, Anna was the Clerk of Ministry and Council for Green Street Monthly Meeting from 1925-28, and also worked as Secretary of the Monthly Meeting until her resignation in 1939. She served on the Executive Board of the Friends Historical Society when Francis Taylor was President and was a Trustee of Schofield Normal and Industrial School for several years.

She remained deeply interested in the spiritual approach to life, and many of her writings reflect this concern. She was a contributor to the Friends Intelligencer and served as one of its editors. In her early married life she lectured on domestic science subjects for the State of Ohio, and after moving to Germantown gave talks to Quaker groups and Women's clubs.

She was President of the Alpha province of Pi Beta Phi, and later served as Vice President of the general fraternity as well as treasurer of its settlement school fund. She was corresponding secretary of the New Century Club of Philadelphia, served on the board of the local YWCA, was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was one of the founders of the Lewisburg Chapter of the Daughters of American Colonists. She was also active in the affairs of the Lewisburg Civic Club.

Anna Florence Branson Boardman

Charles F. and Anna Branson's only daughter, Anna Florence, graduated from Friends Central School in 1931 and attended Swarthmore College from 1931-1935. She graduated with an A.B. in June 1935, and married classmate, Myron Lewis Boardman in 1936 at Green Street Monthly Meeting in Germantown. They had two children, Thomas and Jean. Myron worked for Prentice-Hall as an Editor. Anna Florence and her husband spent the last years of their lives working for the Institute for Christian Living in Pawling, New York, and were members of Housatonic (Connecticut) Meeting.


4 linear ft. (8 boxes)

Language of Materials



Anna M. Jackson and her daughter, Anna M. (Jackson Branson) Theiss, were Quaker activists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Anna M. Jackson was very involved in reform activities in New York City. She served as Chairman of the Women's Prison Reform Committee, and was also involved in the Women's Municipal League and the Political Study Club. Her daughter, Anna Morris Jackson ("Pansy"), attended Swarthmore College for two years, and in 1909 earned a B.S. in Education from Columbia University. Anna was involved in Green Street Monthly Meeting, Friends General Conference, and helped to organize the Inter-Racial Committee of Philadelphia. The collection contains correspondence, journals, and memorabilia. It also includes related materials of the Davis, Price, Jackson, and Fox families, as well as some correspondence. There are significant materials relating to prison reform, women's suffrage, peace, and equal rights for African-Americans in New York City in the late 19th century, Quaker activities throughout the period, the Schofield Normal and Industrial School in the late 19th century, and Swarthmore College in the 1890's and the 1930's.


The collection is divided into four series:

  1. Genealogical and biographical materials
  2. Anna Margaret (Davis) Jackson
  3. Anna Morris (Jackson) Branson Theiss
  4. Anna Florence (Branson) Boardman

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor: Jean Boardman, granddaughter of Anna Morris (Jackson) Branson Theiss.

Date: 1990

Separated Materials

The following materials were removed from the collection and filed in Oversize:

  1. Chart of Fox family.
  2. Price Family silhouettes, diploma (1864), marriage certificates (1827, 1844).
  3. Branson-Fox family (reunion), FGC (1925).
  4. Diplomas (1931 (2), 1935 (2), certificates (1952).

Processing Information

There was little indication of the original order of the documents as received, except for the alphabetical arrangement of the non-familial correspondence (received), now in Series 2, and for a group of chronologically arranged scrapbooks which were assembled and annotated by Anna Theiss for Anne Boardman, starting in 1945. Some of these scrapbooks were bound, and others consisted of loose pages which were scattered throughout the collection. Scrapbook 1898-1902 irreparably damaged with black mold and water damage and therefore discarded. (Personal notes photocopied; Swarthmore College printed material duplicated in College Archives,most of clippings relate to NYC activities.) Remaining scrapbooks were dissembled, and their contents re-sorted chronologically by decade in Series 3. Correspondence indicates that Anna Theiss sold some of her mother's letters to autograph dealers in the 1947.

Fumigated, catalogued, re-foldered, and placed in RG5 by FHL staff.

An Inventory of the Branson-Jackson Family Papers, 1794-1962
FHL staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries

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