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Fisher-Whitson Family Papers

Identifier: SFHL-RG5-281

Scope and Contents

The bulk of this collection is a series of thematically arranged genealogical binders which contain both original manuscripts and photocopies. It also includes family photographic albums, artwork, and memorabilia such as guest and autograph books. There is also family correspondence, predominantly from the Samuel Smedley family of Pennsylvania during the ninteenth century. The focus of all the collection is on the families in donors' direct lines, including the Fishers, Pennells, Jacobs, Smedleys and Whitsons. Of particular interest is a journal and photographic album of Esther Whitson, later Cope, who served with the AFSC in Russia in the 1920s, and the correspondence of Sam Smedley who was killed during the Civil War in the US.


  • Creation: 1778-2011


Language of Materials

All materials in English

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers. Due to its extremely fragile condition, access to Esther Whitson Cope's journal is by photocopy, except by permission of Curator.

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

Thomas S. Fisher and Anna M. Whitson were descended from a long line of Quakers from Delaware and Chester Counties in Pennsylvania. Anna M. Whitson was the daughter of T. Barclay Whitson and Elizabeth Owen Pennell. Her aunt, Esther M. Whitson, married Elmer F. Cope.


6 linear ft. (10 boxes (and folder))


This collection contains manuscripts and other materials relating to the Whitson, Smedley, Fisher and other Quaker families of southeastern Pennsylvania. Along with commonplace books, correspondence, and photographs are a series of thematically arranged genealogical binders assembled by the donors. Of particular interest are the battlefield correspondence of Sam Smedley who was killed in the American Civil War and the journal of Esther Whitson, later Cope, who served as a nurse with the AFSC in Russia in the early 1920s


The collection is divided into five series:

  1. Ser.1 Genealogical Binders
  2. Ser.2 Photographic Albums
  3. Ser.3 Correspondence
  4. Ser.4 Albums & Commonplace Books
  5. Ser.5 Other Manuscripts & Family Memorabilia

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor: Gift of Thomas S. Fisher, 2005 and 2012 (Accession numbers: 2005-016, 2012-015)

Related Materials

Fisher-Brinton Family Papers. RG5/332

Processing Information

This collection has been kept largely intact in folders as arranged by the donor and his daughter, Rebecca Fisher Schneider. The binders contain original and photocopied material, with some duplication elsewhere in the collection.

An Inventory of the Fisher-Whitson Family Papers, 1778-2011
FHL staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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