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Stokes-Woodruff Family papers

Identifier: HC.MC-1263

Scope and Contents

The Stokes-Woodruff Family papers span a wide range of topics and material types, all related to the lives of the Stokes and Woodruff families. The collection is divided into four series: F.J. Stokes Company Papers, Stokes Family Papers, Woodruff Family Papers, and Other Family Histories.

The first series, F.J. Stokes Company Papers, is comprised of documents related to the organization and administration of the F.J. Stokes Machine Company including publicity materials, company records, and patents.

The second series, Stokes Family Papers, focuses on the Stokes’ personal lives and relationships. There is a section here dedicated to the correspondence of Alison Stokes MacLean, the daughter of Leila and Francis Joseph Stokes. Alison was deeply involved in the study of her family's history, so many of her documents reflect an effort to discover and record ancestral details. There is also a set of papers and letters related to Joseph Francis Stokes and another for Leila Woodruff Stokes, his wife. These sections include interpersonal correspondence, financial papers, wills, obituaries, and various other documents. There is also an assortment of travel materials, including travel journals created by Alison Stokes about trips to Italy and Africa. Leila and Francis were frequent travelers as well, and there are various itineraries, letters, and records highlighting the various places they visited. One folder of particular significance contains materials related to the Stokes' trip to Africa. These documents are interesting because they convey both explicit and implicit colonialist attitudes.

The third series features a wide array of letters and papers pertaining to Woodruff family members. For the most part, the letters are written by the individual named on the folder label. There are a number of particularly compelling documents in this series, such as the letters related to Lewis Harlow Woodruff's experiences with mental illness. Also of note is the Clay Club Constitution, which was written in 1844 by a group of individuals supporting Henry Clay’s bid for presidency.

The fourth series comprises a brief span of documents related to the histories of other families, including the Bullocks, Sweets, and Wistars.


  • Creation: 1809-2001
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1820 - 1965


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

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

Biographical Note

This collection contains a wide variety of documents pertaining to both the Stokes and Woodruff families. One prominently featured family member is Francis Joseph Stokes, who was born on December 24, 1873 to Francis Stokes and Katharine Wistar Evans. He died on August 1, 1955. Stokes attended Haverford College and graduated in 1894. He then became an apprentice mechanist to Robert Shoemaker in Philadelphia. He bought Shoemaker’s company the following year and renamed it the F.J. Stokes Machine Company. The company produced a wide number of tools and technologies related to engineering and chemical manufacturing. Its first product was the eureka tablet machine. Stokes served as president of the company for 53 years and was appointed chairman of the board in 1948. He was actively involved in education as a trustee of Bryn Mawr College, an overseer of the William Penn Charter School, a committee member of the Germantown Friends School, and president of the Haverford College Campus Club. Additionally, Stokes was a member of the Coulter Street Meeting of the Society of Friends.

On June 28, 1912, Francis married Lelia Woodruff Stokes. Lelia was born on September 1, 1885 and died on June 28, 1973. Her parents were Clarence S. Woodruff and Susan M. Bullock. Leila graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1907. She was a math teacher at the Rosemary School in Connecticut and at the Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia. In 1955, she became the first female overseer of the William Penn Charter School. Leila also served as a director of the F.J. Stokes Company from 1947 to 1963. Although she was born Presbyterian, she converted to Quakerism after her marriage to Francis Stokes. Leila and Francis had five children together: Francis, Allen, Henry, Alison, and David. Alison Stokes MacLean is of particular note, as a number of her papers and albums are found in this collection.

Leila’s relatives, the Woodruffs, are also prominently featured in these materials. One key family member is Leila's father, Clarence Woodruff. Born in 1855, Clarence served for many years as an attorney in Pennsylvania. He and his first wife, Susan, had five children together: Clara, Leila, Margaret, Asa, and Lewis. Leila's brother, Lewis Harlow Woodruff, plays a noteworthy role in the collection as well; his experiences with mental illness and institutionalization are prominent in a number of letters and documents.


3.75 linear ft. (9 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection contains a wide variety of documents pertaining to both the Stokes and Woodruff families. In addition to family history materials, it also includes materials from F.J. Stokes Company.


Collection materials are sorted into four series and a number of corresponding subseries based on subject matter. Folders labelled with specific topics or material types are organized by content such that similar items are grouped togther. Folders identifying individual people are arranged alphabtically by first name. Within each folder, the materials are sorted chronologically, with undated materials at the back of each folder.

The labelling and composition of many folders and files has been preserved from the original donotation.


The Stokes Family papers were donated to Special Collections, Haverford College in October, 2015 by Alison Cassidy.

Processing Information

Processed by Emily Kingsley; completed May, 2016.

Stokes-Woodruff Family papers, 1809-2001
Emily Kingsley
May, 2016
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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

370 Lancaster Ave
Haverford PA 19041 USA US