Skip to main content

Anna Wharton Morris Papers

Identifier: SFHL-RG5-106

Scope and Contents

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.


  • Creation: 1729-1957


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

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 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.


35 linear ft. (68 boxes)

Language of Materials



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.


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.
  2. Map of North America with a note (dated 1844) written on the outside by Joseph Wharton, stating that it had belonged to Samuel Rowland Fisher (1745-1834) has been removed to FHL Maps Collection
  3. 1963 Reproduction of "A Map of all Friends Meetings belonging to the Yearly Meeting of Rhode Island (1782)" has been removed to FHL Maps Collection
  4. Minute book from Spruce Street Preparative Meeting, 1838-1844 was moved to RG2

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.
  4. Ragbag with a note, "A little rag bag for Aunt Anna C. [L.] Wharton made by her niece Hetty W. Thurston [1850-1875]" and needlework ribbon with envelope, "Anna [C.] L. Wharton from her niece Hetty W. Thurston Christmas 1863" have been removed to Relics Collection, FHL, #'s 949 and 950 respectively.

The following books were removed to FHL stacks (search Tripod):

  1. Crossed Rings by Anna Wharton Morris; Press of Lyon Armor, Inc., Philadelphia, PA; 1954
  2. The Red Cape by Anna Wharton Morris 1903; Press of Lyon Armor, Inc., Philadelphia, PA; 1956
  3. The Children's Story Caravan. Anna Pettit Broomell. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, PA; 1935. Inscribed by the author to AWM "with grateful appreciation"

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.

An Inventory of the Anna Wharton Morris Papers, 1729-1957
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

Revision Statements

  • 2020: Updated outdated, harmful terminology related to enslavement, except where it appears in a title, quotation, or subject heading.

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 Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library

500 College Avenue
Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA