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Arthur H. and Esther Willits Thomas Correspondence, 1888-1945

Identifier: HC.MC-1037

Scope and Contents Note

Series I consists of Arthur H. Thomas’ letters to Esther E. Willits from 1891 to 1899 about daily life, his work, and their courtship and marriage. Many of his 1893 letters concern the Chicago Columbian Exposition. Series II is Esther Willits Thomas’ letters to Arthur H. Thomas. The bulk of these letters are from 1891 to 1899, and they are about work, school, friends, and courtship and marriage. This series also contains letters from the summers of 1918, and 1924 through 1927, which Esther Thomas spent in in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts. The letters are about domestic life. Series III is made up of other Arthur H. Thomas correspondence. Series III, subseries I consists of both sides of Arthur H. Thomas and Joseph E. Trimble’s 1891 to 1896 correspondence. Trimble was Thomas’ cousin, and the letters concern mutual friends and family, as well as Trimble’s ill health. This subseries also includes two letters from Esther Willits to Joseph Trimble about Westtown alumni business. Series III, subseries II includes other Arthur H. Thomas correspondence. Series IV consists of other Esther Willits Thomas correspondence. Notable correspondents include J. Henry Bartlett, Esther Thomas’ cousin, who wrote about family news, and Christopher Morley, who wrote about burying Esther Thomas’ parents in the Haverford Friends Meeting Burial Ground. Series V contains other materials, such as invitations to weddings (Quaker and non-Quaker), parties, and commencements for the Thomases. Series V also includes a few early twentieth century annual reports for the Association for Promoting College Education for Women, and the notes of the Temporary Advisory Committee of the Educational Committee from 1912 to 1920.


  • Creation: 1888-1945
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1891-1899


Use Restrictions

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

Biographical Note

Arthur H. Thomas was born in 1872 to Levi S. and Sidney P. Thomas. He attended Westtown Boarding School from 1886 to 1892, and then worked for Queen & Co., a Philadelphia company which manufactured scientific equipment. In 1893, his company sent him to Chicago to the Columbian Exposition in order to advertise Queen & Co. On November 10, 1898 Thomas married his Westtown classmate, Esther E. Willits. In 1899, Thomas started his own scientific manufacturing company, the Arthur H. Thomas Company. Esther and Arthur Thomas had two children, Esther (b. 1910), and Sidney (b. 1912). Thomas died in 1942. Esther E. Willits was born in 1874 to Samuel and Abigail Willits. After attending Westtown Boarding School, she studied Physics and Biology at Bryn Mawr College from 1894 to 1896, where she held the Foundation scholarship. She left Bryn Mawr in 1896, and took a position as an elementary school teacher at Friends Select School in Philadelphia. On November 10, 1898, she married Arthur H. Thomas. They had two children, Esther (b. 1910), and Sidney (b. 1912). Esther Thomas spent her summers in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts. Thomas died in 1975. (Information from internal evidence, the Dictionary of Quaker Biography, Tripod record, and US Census Data).


3.3 linear ft.

Language of Materials



A collection of correspondences between Arthur H. Thomas and Esther E. Willits and assorted family and friends of the couple. Topics include daily life, courtship, marriage, illness, and business.


Within series, the letters are arranged chronologically.

  • Series I. Arthur H. Thomas to Esther E. Willits
  • Series II. Esther E. Willits to Arthur H. Thomas
  • Series III. Other Arthur H. Thomas Correspondence
  • Series IV. Other Esther Willits Thomas Correspondence
  • Series V. Other Materials


The Thomas Correspondence was donated to Special Collections, Haverford College, in 1987 and 1988 by Sidney Thomas Forstall and Esther Thomas Woodward.

Related Materials

  • HC.MC.950.177 Esther Willits Thomas correspondence
  • HC.MC.950.308 includes a folder with a 1943 annual report of the Arthur H. Thomas Company
  • PG 6 file on Esther Willits Thomas
  • Esther Willits Thomas Papers in Bryn Mawr College Special Collections

Processing Information

Processed by Abigail Corcoran; completed July, 2016.

Arthur H. and Esther Willits Thomas Correspondence, 1888-1945
Abigail Corcoran
July, 2016
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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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Haverford PA 19041 USA US