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Emma Lapsansky-Werner collection

Identifier: HC.MC-1325

Content Description

The collection holds material primarily related to the life and career of Emma Jones Lapsansky-Werner (1945-), History Professor and Curator of Special Collections at Haverford College from 1990-2005. The collection also holds records of family members from Emma’s maternal lineage dating back to 1880 including members from the Jenkins, Parker and Hughes families. Many of Emma’s professional records are held in the collection, including notes for and copies of public talks she gave at a variety of educational events, copies of her published book reviews, materials related to her career at Haverford College, and working drafts for several books Emma authored on Philadelphia, Quaker, and Black history.

The Home Life series contains personal correspondence during her time in High Mowing High School in the 1960s with many artifacts from her early life including journals, and an autograph book. The rest of the collection is devoted to material from Emma’s maternal lineage dating back to her great grandparents Patience Lavinia Hughes (1844-1926) and Eben E. Parker (1844-1933) through the following five generations. The genealogy series holds a family tree and notes Emma has written about her family members highlighting their achievements. Records from family history include photographs, diplomas, legal documents, newspaper clippings, correspondence, organization membership materials, scrapbooks, high school yearbooks, school notebooks, and a family bible with genealogical information, amongst many other materials.


  • Creation: 1760-2019


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

The collection is open for research use

Copyright and Rights Information

Standard Federal Copyright Law Applies (U.S. Title 17)

Biographical / Historical

Emma Jones Lapsansky-Werner (1945- ) was born in Washington D.C. on April 19, 1945 to Minerva Jenkins Jones (1908-2003), a school teacher and Thomas Edward Jones Sr. (1880-1958), an Army captain and surgeon. She attended Park View elementary school and Benjamin Banneker middle school in Washington D.C. She attended High Mowing High School, a private Waldorf school in New Hampshire. After graduating 1963, she married Philip Sanders Lapsansky in 1966 and began her studies in American History at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving her Bachelors in 1968 and her Masters in 1969. She continued her studies at the University of Pennsylvania and received her Ph.D. in American Civilization with a concentration in American Social History and Material Culture in 1975. She taught history at Moore College of Art, the Community College of Philadelphia, Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University between 1973 and 1990. She also served as Associate Dean to the College of Arts and Sciences at Temple University between 1984 and 1986. In 1990 she accepted a dual position of Curator of Quaker and Special Collections and Associate Professor of History at Haverford College, where she became the first Black woman full professor at the college. After retiring from her position at Haverford College in 2005 she continued to lecture in classes at Haverford.

Emma Lapsansky-Werner serves the historical profession widely, she has given lectures and reviewed books on Philadelphia, Quaker, and Black history throughout her career for a large variety of venues and publications including The Journal of American History, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Library of Congress. She also authored and co-authored several papers and books including “Neighborhoods in Transition: William Penn’s Dream and Urban Reality” (1994), “African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom” (2005), and "Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption" (2003). She was on the executive committee of the Organization of American Historians, and the redesign team for the National high school Advanced Placement curriculum . She has also served as consultant to the Philadelphia public school district, and dozens of museums in the United States, the Caribbean, and England. Emma has three children, Jordan (1970-), Jeannette (1972-), and Charlotte Lapsansky (1979-). After Emma and Philip’s divorce in 1984, Emma remarried to Dickson Werner in 2003.

Philip Sanders Lapsansky (Emma's first husband) was born on March 30, 1941. He married Emma Jones on August 15, 1966 and they had three children together, Jordan (1970- ), Jeannette (1972- ), and Charlotte Lapsansky (1979- ). He worked at the Library Company of Philadelphia between 1971 and 2012 as a research librarian and curator of African American history.

Minerva Jenkins Jones (Emma's mother) (1908-2003) was born to Jeannette Parker Jenkins (1880-1940) and Reverend Joseph Henry Jenkins Sr. (1874-1960). She attended the Miner Normal School in Washington D.C. and graduated from Douglass high school in Baltimore, Maryland in 1925. She received her Bachelor’s in education from Howard University in 1930. On April 25, 1940 she married Thomas Edward Jones Sr. (1880-1958), an Army Captain and Surgeon-In-Chief at Freedman’s Hospital. They had three children together, Thomas Edward Jones Jr. (1940-), Jeannette Minerva Jones (1942-), and Emma Jane Jones (1945-). She was employed as a teacher by the School District of Columbia.

Thomas Edward Jones Sr. (Emma's father) (5/26/1880-4/5/1958) was one of 104 African American physicians who served in World War I, and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and the U.S. Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in the September, 1917 Argonne Forest initiative which brought the Allied victory in World War I. After returning from the war, he resumed his position at Freedmen’s Hospital, becoming by 1936, director of the hospital, just as it was transitioning to being Howard University Hospital. In that role he reported to Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes, who became his friend. He considered himself to be a “race man,” and invested in properties in an all-Black town on the New Jersey shore, even though he had no intention of living there. At age 60, he retired from medicine, bought a 170-acre farm in Montgomery County MD in order to exercise his franchise (Washington DC residents could not vote) and spent the next 18 years as a gentleman dairy farmer. His purchase of the Maryland farm was also his way of aiming to reclaim farmland for Black Americans. His mother was Emma Glenn Jones (b. 1850) and his father, Campbell Jones (b. 1844 ), had been a farmer near Lynchburg, Virginia, where he sold vegetables at a Lynchburg Market that later was added to a historic register. On April 25, 1940 he married Minerva Jenkins Jones (1908-2003) and together they had three children Thomas Edward Jones Jr. (1940-), Jeannette Minerva Jones (1942-) and Emma Jane Jones (1945-).

Thomas Edward Jones Jr. (Emma's brother) (1940-) was born November 21, 1940 to Minverva Jenkins Jones (1908-2003) and Thomas Edward Jones Sr. (1880-1958). He attended Banneker Junior High School and Dunbar High School. He graduated from Howard University in 1966 with a degree in Law.

Jeannette Minverva Jones (Emma's sister) (1942-) was born August 8th, 1942 to Minvera Jenkins Jones (1908-2003) and Thomas Edward Jones Sr. (1880-1958). She married Harry S. Davis III (1942-) in 1962 and they had two children together, Thomas Edward Davis (1963-) and Laura Elizabeth Davis (1964-). She remarried to Fred Wallace in 1978 and they had one child together, Fred Wallace Jr. (1977).

Jeannette Parker Jenkins (Emma's grandmother) (1880-1940) was born to Patience Lavinia Hughes (1844-1926) and Rev. Eben E. Parker (1844-1933). She married Rev. Joseph Henry Jenkins Sr. (1874-1960) on November 30, 1905 and they had four children, Joseph Henry Jenkins Jr. (1906-1983), Minerva Elizabeth Jenkins (1908-2003), Cecie Roberta Jenkins (1910-1968), and Vivian Eulalia Jenkins (1911-1993). She was a suffragist-activist, church woman, and organizer of a West Virginia reading-group that provided college scholarships for women. She was a member of the Clarksburg, West Virginia Women’s Study Club and the Woman’s Home Missionary Society for the Methodist Church.

Joseph Henry Jenkins Sr. (Emma's grandfather) (1874-1960) was born on October 1, 1874 to Sophia Butler Jenkins (b. 1855) and James W. Jenkins (b. 1852), a farmer. He graduated from Morgan College in 1897. He married Jeannette Parker Jenkins (1880-1940) on November 30, 1905 and they had four children, Joseph Henry Jenkins Jr. (1906-1983), Minerva Elizabeth Jenkins (1908-2003), Cecie Roberta Jenkins (1910-1968), and Vivian Eulalia Jenkins (1911-1993). He served as a minister in the Methodist church.

Cecie Roberta Jenkins (Emma's aunt) (1910-1968) was born to Jeannette Parker Jenkins (1880-1940) and Reverend Joseph Henry Jenkins Sr. (1874-1960). She attended Dunbar High School and graduated from Howard University in 1928. She married Harold Erving Jones around 1952.

Joseph Henry Jenkins Jr.(Emma's uncle) (1906-1983) was born on September 9, 1906 to Jeannette Parker Jenkins (1880-1940) and Rev. Joseph Henry Jenkins Sr. (1874-1960). Joseph Henry Jenkins Jr. was among the first Black Phi Beta Kappa inductees at New York’s Hamilton College, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1928. He then completed a Masters in English literature at Harvard University, and ABD (all but dissertation) at University of Minnesota, where he also taught in the 1940s. His teaching career included service at Fort Lee while on active service in the United States Army, Bluefield College, Spelman College, Virginia Union University, and Virginia State University where he became Chairman of the English Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. He chaired the Ad Hoc Committee for the Joseph Jenkins Robert’s Memorial Monument (no relation) and was a Member of the Board of the Petersburg Historic Foundation. He was an active member of the First Unitarian Church of Richmond, where he served as President of the Congregation and Chairman of the Board of Stewards for three terms. He married Lillian Washington Jordan Jenkins (1905-1996) in 1956.

Lillian Washington Jordan Jenkins (Emma's aunt) (1905-1996) graduated with a Bachelor's degree from Wellesley College in 1929, she was one of only 45 Black women to earn a BA from Wellesley College before 1960. Lillian lived in Liberia from 1946-48 with her former husband Harold B. Jordan, while he was serving as U.S. Dept of Health Chief Warrant officer. She remarried to Joseph Henry Jenkins Jr. in 1956. She held a leadership role in VOKAL (Virginia Organization to make Abortion Legal) during the 1980s and was the first Black woman on the national board of the Unitarian-Universalist church.

Theophilus Parker (Emma's great uncle) (1877-1970) was born May 20, 1877 to Patience Lavinia Hughes (1844-1926) and Rev. Eben E. Parker (1844-1933). He was a graduate of the Quaker-run Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the first family member to receive a college degree, graduating from Morgan State College in the 1880s, where he later returned as a teacher. After completing his graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, he entered the field of education as a teacher of mathematics at Princess Ann Academy (now Maryland State College), Morgan State College and University of Monrovia in Monrovia, Africa. He later became the principal of the High School in Roanoke Virginia, Mechanical College in Normal Alabama. In recognition of his educational achievements he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree. He was an organizing member of the Principals Club of Delaware, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Morgan State College Alumni Association and Whatcoat United Methodist Church of Dover Delaware.

Cecie Parker Henry (Emma's great aunt) (1884-1985) was born on November 4th, 1884 to Patience Lavinia Hughes (1844-1926) and Rev. Eben E. Parker (1844-1933). She was the first African American to serve on the Dover, Delaware school board (ca. 1960), and her pharmacy degree (1920), may have been Temple University’s first to a Black woman. She spent much of her life organizing the National Colored Parents and Teachers Association, serving as its president in the 1930s and 1940s, and speaking before Congress in support of education for the hearing-impaired. She married William Walter Massey Henry (1886-1948) on December 25th, 1912.

Dr. William Walter Massey Henry (Emma's great uncle)(1886-1948) was born to Georgianna Henry (1849-1937) and Carl Henry (1885-1948). He graduated from Delaware State College in 1905 and became the first Black physician to practice in southern Delaware. He served as president of the Kent region NAACP, and as a trustee of Delaware State College. A public school in Dover Delaware is named in his honor. Incidentally, he was also the family physician for Harold Weaver (graduate of Haverford college ca. 1965- associate at Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African American research). He married Cecie Parker (1884-1985) on December 12, 1912.

Vivian Jenkins Tellis (Emma's aunt) (1911-1993) was born on October 4, 1911 to Jeannette Parker Jenkins (1880-1940) and Reverend Joseph Henry Jenkins Sr. (1874-1960). She attended Dunbar High School in Washington D.C., where she was salutatorian of her graduating class. She matriculated at Howard University at the age of 15 and graduated in 1931 with a major in Latin and minors in English and French. She earned her masters in English in 1934. She worked as a high school teacher in Denton, Maryland and Roanoke, Virginia for several years. In Dover she also taught and later became principal at the State College High School. Simultaneously, she taught English at Delaware State College, it was here that she met Claude E. Tellis (1907-1995) who she married circa 1943. They had one child together, Claude J. Tellis (1945-). The family then moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Vivian continued her teaching career becoming the Director of the first Honors Program at Southern University. In 1965 she joined her husband on the faculty at Alcorn State University where she was Professor of English and Chairman of the Department of Humanities, retiring in 1977. She was an active member of Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church, a member of the United Methodist Women, and a golden Soror of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Claude J. Tellis (Emma's cousin) (1945-) was born November 30, 1945 to Vivian Jenkins Tellis (1911-1993) and Claude E. Tellis (1907-1995). He was Louisiana State University’s first Black medical-school graduate in 1970. After a career in pulmonary specialties at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington DC, (where he earned the rank of colonel) he joined Louisiana’s Oshner Clinic, and in retirement has been speaking and publishing on the health effects of climate change. He married Evelyn Robinson (1943-) on June 20, 1970. They had two children together, Natalie Yvonne Tellis (1972-) and Claude Tellis Jr. (1973-).

Claude Tellis Jr. (Emma's cousin once removed) (1973-) was born to Evelyn Robinson (1943-) and Claude J. Tellis (1945-). He has pioneered healthy food for Los Angeles CA schools, and devoted his career to promoting dietary programs to combat and relieve nutrition-caused health problems that are common in Black communities.

Enoch P. Waters (Emma's first cousin) (1909-1987) was born to Addie G. Parker (1873-1968) and Enoch Waters Sr. (1874-1954). Enoch graduated college in 1933. He worked for The Chicago Defender, one of the nation's largest Black daily newspapers, for 23 years. He rose to the position of executive editor before he left in 1957 to become editor of The Associated Negro Press, a wire service that served about 150 Black weekly newspapers. He published his book “American Diary: A Personal History of the Black Press” in 1977.

Note: For more information see the genealogy series Sources: from the collection, donor family notes and


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The Emma Lapsansky-Werner collection holds material primarily related to the life and career of Emma Jones Lapsansky-Werner (1945-), History Professor and Curator of Special Collections at Haverford College from 1990-2005. The collection also holds records of family members from Emma’s maternal lineage dating back to the 1760s including members from the Jenkins, Parker and Hughes families.


Emma’s portion of the collection is broken down by the genre of material. The short essays and talks sub-series includes research, correspondence, speaking notes and copies of talks and lectures she gave at a variety of educational institutions and events. The book review sub-series includes drafts, correspondence, and published copies of book reviews that Emma authored for newspapers and journals. The books sub-series contains correspondence, working drafts, research and copies of books that Emma authored and co-authored. The projects sub-series contains material and correspondence related to various boards Emma served on, committees she was a part of and conferences she helped organize. The publicity sub-series includes flyers, brochures, newspaper clippings and schedules for events that Emma participated in as a speaker or presenter. The Haverford sub-series includes professional correspondence, college publications Emma was featured in and reports from programs she headed. The professional correspondence series holds correspondence from various institutions, journals and publications that Emma was involved with in the 1980s and 1990s. The school sub-series contains school notebooks from elementary school through her Ph.D. studies. The home life sub-series holds journals and personal correspondence from her teenage years into her adulthood. The portion of the collection devoted to her family is broken down into family branches, starting out first with materials from her mother and father Minerva Jenkins and T.E. Jones Sr. which includes correspondence, photographs, and professional records. The next series is Emma’s grandparents, Jeannette Parker Jenkins and Joseph Henry Jenkins Sr. which includes the Parker family bible and material from professional organizations they were involved with. The following series is Joseph Henry Jenkins Jr. and Lillian Washington Jenkins (Emma’s aunt and uncle). This series includes high school yearbooks, scrapbooks, newspaper articles and material related to Joseph H. Jenkins Jr.’s career as a college professor. The following series is for Theophilus Parker, Cecie Parker Henry and William Walter Massey Henry, Emma’s great aunt and uncles. This series includes school materials related to Cecie and William’s studies in pharmacy and medicine and newspaper articles and essays written by Theophilus on education for Blacks. The following series is for the Tellis family, including Vivian Jenkins Tellis (Emma’s aunt), Claude J. Tellis (Emma’s cousin) and Claude J. Tellis Jr. (Emma’s first cousin once removed). It includes Vivian’s obituary, and a presentation and interview by Claude Sr. and Claude Jr., respectively. The next series is for Enoch P. Waters (Emma’s first cousin) and includes an essay and book he authored. The following series is family photographs and the final series is certificates and diplomas, holding oversize college diplomas and certificates for Emma's family members.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Emma Lapsansky, December 2019

Processing Information

Processed by Janeen Lamontagne, June 2022

Emma Lapsansky-Werner collection
Janeen Lamontagne
June, 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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 reproductions from Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

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