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Longstreth Family
Archive of Material Pertaining to the William Collins Longstreth Family of Philadelphia, Springfield, and Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, 1841-1884

Archive consists of five account books, 1841-1879, totaling 685 manuscript pages, Abby Ann Taylor Longstreth’s Manuscript Cookery and Receipt Book, c 1865, 50 pages, and a common place book, as well as an Account Book for a Mission School run by the family, 85 pages, plus a group of letters, as well as family daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, 1840s-1850s. (See detailed inventory below).

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      The Longstreth’s were an influential Quaker family of Philadelphia active in their faith and community promoting social reform and education. The archive centers upon William Collins Longstreth active in business and as the manager of Haverford College from 1864-1881. The archive comprises a detailed view of nearly 40 years of the domestic life of this Quaker family, in the form of highly detailed account books recording virtually every receipt and expenditure of the family from 1841-1879.

William Collins Longstreth (1821-1881) was born in Philadelphia, March 12, 1821, the son of Isaac Thomas Longstreth and Mary (Collins) Longstreth. William was well educated from an early age He began the study of Latin at six years of age and read Virgil at eight. When twelve years old he entered Haverford School.”1 William entered Haverford College with the sophomore class of 1834 and graduated in 1837. He was one of the first graduates of the college, which was established only several years prior in 1833. William’s post-college professions included being a Farmer, at his home “Locust Grove” in Springfield, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and his Greenway Farm in Upper Darby; Treasurer of the Elmira & Williamsport Railroad Company; Vice President of the Provident Life and Trust Company in Philadelphia for 15 years; and Manager of Haverford College from 1864-1881. William was also influential in the community, having founded the Greenway Union Sabbath School in 1858 in order “to teach and nurture the children of Southwest Philadelphia” as well as starting “a Sunday afternoon preaching service, and invited talented preachers from Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian and other churches to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.” Through mergers and name changes, the school and church continue to exist today.

William Collins Longstreth married Abby Ann Taylor on November 16, 1848. Abby A. Taylor was born April 10, 1829, in Mount Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey, and died in Philadelphia, December 11, 1902. Together the couple had nine children including: Benjamin Taylor (b. 1849), Thomas Kimber (b. 1851), William Morris (b. 1853), Henry (b. 1855), Charles Albert (b. 1857), Mary (b. 1859), Sara Morris (b. 1865), Anna (b. 1868) and Edward Rhoads (b. 1871). William died at “Ingleside” on April 25, 1881 and is buried at the Friends Southwestern Burial Ground in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. 


William Collins Longstreth was the great-grandfather of Thacher Longstreth (1920-2003) longtime member of the City Council of Philadelphia and two-time candidate for mayor of the city.


1.     Reminiscences of Isaac and Rachel (Budd) Collins. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1893. Page 144.


     The collection includes the following items:

     “Day Book No. 1 William C. Longstreth 1843-1851”

      Narrow folio, 112 pages of accounts for Philadelphia, and Springfield, with 4 pages of accounts for property in Blackwoodtown, Gloucester County, New Jersey, 1841-1853. Bound in contemporary ¼ sheep and marbled boards, paper label on front board, entries written in ink in a clear, precise hand, very good condition, Several inlaid items in rear of account book.


             Includes very detailed accounts of expenses for the family, in Philadelphia and at their farm “Locust Grove”, in then rural Springfield, Pennsylvania. The account book also notes equally detailed receipts for agricultural produce sold from the farm.


      “Expense Book Wm C. Longstreth No. 2. 1852 to 1860”

       Narrow folio, 203 pages, recording expenses in Springfield, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia, and for the “Greenway Farm”, plus 9 pages recording “Expenses connected with Wharton Street Property 7 houses”, 1853-1857 also includes rent received, as well as Stock shares purchased, i.e. Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads, dividend and interest income, 1853-1856.

      Bound in contemporary ¼ sheep and marbled boards, paper label on front board. Entries written in ink in a very precise hand. Includes detailed accounts of expenses connected with Longstreth’s Springfield farms and Philadelphia investments. Personal expenses are noted as well as produce purchased and sold. Labor accounts are also recorded. Longstreth rented the Locust Grove property and then took up residence on the “Greenway Farm” in Darby, Pennsylvania, which he rented. Longstreth notes accounts for travel to Philadelphia and Burlington, New Jersey, subscriptions, attendance at lectures, including Henry Ward Beecher and others.   


      “Expense Book Wm. C. Longstreth No. 3, 1 Mo 2nd 1861 to 12 M. 31st 1869”

       Narrow folio, 153 pp., entries written in ink in a precise hand, in very good, clean and legible condition, bound in contemporary ¼ sheep and paper covered boards, paper label on front board.


      Detailed entries noting expenses both personal and family related as well as those connected to the upkeep of the Greenway Farm. Travel, labor, and subscription accounts such as “Darby Preparative Mtg”, “Subscription to Freedmen’s Aid”, and attendance at lectures are also noted.


      “Expense Book No. 4 Wm. C. Longstreth 1 Mo 1870 to 12 Mo 1877”

       Narrow folio, 152 pages, bound in ¼ sheep and marbled paper covered boards, front board detached but present, spine worn, entries written in ink in a clear, precise hand, else very good, paper label on front board.


      Account and Expense Book of Abby Ann Taylor Longstreth, 1848-1879

      Folio, 43 pages of accounts, plus blanks, as well as 9 pages of genealogical and family history notes, bound in full reverse calf, binding worn, scuffed and soiled, entries in good, clean legible condition.


       The book contains a variety of accounts including gifts received by Abby Ann Longstreth, beginning with those received at her wedding in 1848 and running through 1880, notes the gift received alongside the name of the giver. A List of books read by Abby Ann Longstreth beginning in 1849 through 1859, an account of her “patrimony” 1868-1873, a list of the silver belonging to she and her husband, followed by a list of her expenses from 1849-1881, mainly personal expenditures, lists the item and its cost, includes clothing, medicine, travel expenses, books, fabric and textiles, et cetera.

       “A. A. Longstreth Receipt Book Recopied May 1865 Ingleside, Grays Lane, W. P.”

       Small quarto, 50 pages, plus blanks, and several inlaid receipts, bound in ¼ sheep and marbled boards, binding worn and broken, front board detached, some soiling and spotting to pages, else in good condition.


       List of recipes kept by Abby Ann Longstreth, mainly deserts, cakes, pies, puddings, but also includes salads, and recipes for roasting chickens, etc.


       Account book of Joseph Sturge Mission School, Benezet House, 918 Locust Street, Philadelphia, 1921-1941

       Small quarto, 85 pages, kept in a 19th century blank book, ¼ sheep and marbled paper covered boards, “Mary Longstreth’s Receipt Book 1814” is inscribed on the contemporary bookseller’s label of Thomas M. Longstreth, No. 119 Market Street, affixed to the front board, else good. Mary Longstreth was William Colins Longstreth’s mother.


      Commonplace Book kept by Mary Longstreth (William Collins Longstreth’s daughter) c. 1880s

      Quarto, 13 pages, bound in stiff marbled wraps, engraved card of Mary Longstreth Ingleside, affixed to front board.


      Group of 5 Longstreth family letters, 1799-1868

      5 letters, 13 pages


      Six Cased Photographic Images:

Mary Anna Longstreth (1811-1884)

Sixteenth plate ambrotype or tintype portrait, circular format, measures 1 ¼ inches in diameter, mounted in small   union case. Some spotting, image in poor focus, else good.

      (See below for further information on Mary Anna Longstreth). 

      Mary Anna Longstreth (1811-1884)

Sixth plate daguerreotype by Samuel Broadbent of Philadelphia circa 1852-57, oval format, in embossed union case. Some oxidization to edges, some spotting, else very good.

Educator and social reformer. Older sister of William Collins Longstreth, she was a staunch abolitionist who devoted much of her life to ending the evil of slavery and to the care of the poor and destitute. Heavily involved in the Underground Railroad, in the mid-1850s she was seized by an anti-abolition, pro-slavery mob and brought to Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia to be hung with other prominent Philadelphia abolitionists and was only saved from death by the arrival of Pennsylvania Militia troops.

       Mary Anna Longstreth was born in Philadelphia in 1811 to Isaac T. Longstreth and Mary Collins. In 1829, she and her younger sister Susan decided to start up a school for girls. During the summer, a private residence at 3 North Eleventh Street was acquired and the Longstreth's school began there with five children in September 1829. (The house also served as quarters for members of the Longstreth family.) The class size quickly reached fourteen in early 1830. To help with classes, Mary Anna and Susan were later joined by their younger sister. Elizabeth. She stayed with the school until she married Israel Morris in 1839, by which time the school had grown to accommodate several dozen students. In 1836, the school was moved to Eleventh and Cherry streets where a large house and garden were built.

        Susan Longstreth retired from the school in the 1840s due to health issues, and Mary Anna kept the school going until her own retirement in 1877. In 1857, further growth in the number of students at the Longstreth school prompted another move, this time to a larger building at Filbert and Juniper streets. There it remained until the late 1860s, when the school moved once more to Merrick Street (Broad Street) on Penn Square (City Hall). The Longstreth school closed in June 1877, and Mary Anna Longstreth died in August 1884.

Bryn Mawr College annually gives out the Mary Anna Longstreth Memorial Scholarship to the children of alumnae.


      Susan Longstreth (?) (1813-1893)

Small oval ambrotype or tintype portrait, mounted in a sixth plate sized union case, the image was taken by Collins of Philadelphia, circa 1850’s. The case bears his “Collins’s Sky Light Portraits 100 Chestnut St. Ab 3d Philada” embossed advertisement on the case’s velvet interior. The image has some spotting, but much of it would probably be remedied by a good cleaning.


Susan Longstreth was William Collins Longstreth’s sister and partner with her sister Mary Anna in the Longstreth school for girls.


      Unidentified woman possibly Mary Collins Longstreth (?)

Quarter plate daguerreotype of a painted portrait of an unidentified Quaker woman, possibly Mary Collins Longstreth (1789-1865) Glass spotted, some oxidization at edges of image, in an embossed union case, else good.


Rachel Grellet (1810-1901)

Sixth plate tinted daguerreotype, image spotted, in an embossed union case.

      Born in New York City, Rachel was the daughter of Etienne (de Grellet) Grellet and Rebecca (Collins) Grellet. 

Group portrait of English Quakers John Joseph Gurney, his wife Eliza Paul Gurney, his son John, and daughter Anna Backhouse

Sixth plate daguerreotype, spotted and oxidized at edges, in a leather union case. Circa 1840s.

The pose is identical to a daguerreotype made of the family by Jean Gabriel Eynard in Paris, May 1843 (in the Cromer Museum). But this image seems to be of a painting made after the Eynard daguerreotype.

Joseph John Gurney (2 August 1788 – 4 January 1847) was a banker in Norwich, England, and a member of the Gurney family of that city. He became an evangelical minister of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), whose views and actions led, ultimately, to a schism among American Quakers.

Gurney was born at Earlham Hall near Norwich (now part of the University of East Anglia), the tenth child of John Gurney (1749–1809) of Gurney's Bank. He was always called Joseph John. He was the brother of Samuel Gurney, Elizabeth Fry (née Gurney), a prison and social reformer, and Louisa Hoare (née Gurney), a writer on education, and also the brother-in-law – through his sister the campaigner Hannah Buxton – of Thomas Fowell Buxton, who was also an anti-slavery campaigner. He was educated by a private tutor at Oxford, members of non-conformist religious groups being ineligible to matriculate in his day at the English universities.

In 1817 Gurney joined his sister Elizabeth Fry in her attempt to end capital punishment and institute improvements in prisons. They talked with several Members of Parliament but had little success.

In 1818 Gurney was a recorded Quaker minister. (This meant he was noted as a person gifted by God for preaching and teaching, but Quakers then neither explicitly designated individuals to take substantial roles in their worship, nor financially supported its ministers unless their travels in that role would otherwise have been impractical.)

Eventually Robert Peel, the Home Secretary, took an interest in prison reform and introduced the Gaols Act 1823, which called for paying salaries to wardens (rather than their being supported by the prisoners themselves) and putting female warders in charge of female prisoners. It also prohibited the use of irons or manacles.

Gurney and Fry visited prisons all over Great Britain to gather evidence of the horrible conditions in them to present to Parliament. They published their findings in a book entitled Prisons in Scotland and the North of England.

Gurney campaigned against slavery during trips to North America and the West Indies from 1837-1840. He promoted the Friends' belief in world peace in Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark. He also continued to promote the abolition of capital punishment.

Gurney also advocated total abstinence from alcohol. He wrote a tract on the subject called Water Is Best.

While Gurney was preaching in the United States, he caused some controversy that resulted in a split among Quakers. He was concerned that Friends had so thoroughly accepted the ideas of the inner light and of Christ as the Word of God that they no longer considered the actual text of the Bible and the New Testament Christ important enough. He also stressed the traditional Protestant belief that salvation is through faith in Christ. Those who sided with him were called Gurneyite Quakers. Those who sided with John Wilbur, his opponent, were called Wilburites. (See Quaker history.)

      Gurney was an early supporter of Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana and the college was named after his family home, Earlham Hall, in honor of his support and encouragement.