Manuscript Document - List of Subscribers, contributing funds to enable the Magdalen Society, of Philadelphia, to Erect Additional Buildings, 1811

Folio, one page, old folds, splits along folds, short tears into edges, old tape repairs to verso of sheet, document inscribed in ink, on 18th century American paper, of Philadelphia manufacture, watermarked "T & C", see Gravell, A Catalogue of American Watermarks 1690-1835, figure 635.

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The document is headed:

       "We agree to pay to the Magdalen Society of Philadelphia the sums affixed to our names respectively for erecting additional Buildings at the Asylum so as to enable the managers to classify the Inmates admitted into the House Philada 2 mo 1811"

           There then follows a list of 18 signatures, of various Philadelphians and the amount of their subscription, the list includes Bishop William White (1748-1836), the Magdalen Society's first president.   

       The list follows: George Williams, Alexander Henry, Abraham Hilyard, Joseph L. Inglis, Ambrose White, Robert Ralston, Edward Burd, Paul Burk, jr., John A. Brown, Bartholomew Wistar, J. William Short, Abraham L. Pennock, Samuel Sellers, Harvey Lewis, Wm. White, Thomas Mitchell, Thomas Wistar.

             "After the establishment of the Quaker Almshouse many years rolled by before any step was taken toward the establishment of any private institution in the shape of an asylum or home.

            The first instance in 1799, "to aid in restoring to the paths of virtue women who have been robbed of their innocence, and are desirous of returning to a life of rectitude."

            Bishop Willion White, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, was the first president of this society. In 1802 the society was incorporated. President, Rt. Rev. William White...

            The Society bought ground at the northeast corner of Schuylkill Second (Twenty-first) and Race Streets, extending down Race Street toward Schuylkill Third (Twentieth) a considerable distance, and northward halfway to Vine Street.

            Here was erected a house of moderate dimensions, which, in 1810, could accommodate ten or twelve women. At a later period a broad and imposing four story brick building was erected  in front. High brick walls on all sides shut out the inmates from sight of the world, and if reformation is an effect of solitude, the building and grounds are well suited to effect the purpose." - Scharf & Westcott, History of Philadelphia, vol. II, pp. 1453-54.

           The Society remained at this location into the 20th century, and in 1903 could accommodate about 34 women. The Society accepted women who "had gone astray," "no distinction as to color or creed; but so far only white women have been received. The inmates receive a common-school education and instruction in sewing and housework. Homes are sought for them if their parents or friends do not claim them when they leave... They remain one year but the term is sometimes extended...." - A Directory of the Charitable, Social Improvement, Educational and Religious Associations and Churches of Philadelphia..., (Philadelphia: 1903) p. 156.