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Ryerss family papers

1758-1931, 10.5 linear feet

01

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Ryerss Museum and Library. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

Repository:
Ryerss Museum and Library
Creator:
Ryerss family
Title:
Ryerss family papers
Date [inclusive]:
1758-1931
Call Number:
01
Extent:
10.5 Linear feet
General Physical Description note:
15 boxes, numerous framed items, and several loose items
Language:
English
Abstract:
The Waln family were prominent Philadelphia Quakers who made a fortune in the 18th-century China Trade and descended from the original Pennsylvania settler Nicholas Waln. Joseph Waln Ryerss built Burholme as his summer house in 1859, and upon his death he left it to his son, Robert Waln Ryerss (1831-1896). Robert Waln Ryerss was a lawyer. He scandalized Philadelphia society by marrying his housekeeper, Mary Ann Reed, eight months before his death. Mary Ann remarried, and spent the rest of her life traveling to collect items for the museum now located in Ryerss' mansion. The Ryerss family papers, 1758-1931, contain documents, photographs, and volumes. Most of the collection relates to Robert W. Ryerss, his Waln antecedents, or his wife Mary Ann Reed (later Bawn).
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Biography/History

"A descendant of Nicholas Waln, one of the original Pennsylvania settlers who came to Philadelphia with William Penn on the Welcome in 1682, Joseph Waln Ryerss built his opulent summer retreat, Burholme, on 85 acres in 1859. Like his Waln ancestors, Joseph continued the family penchant for acquiring exotic objects from the orient, with the newly constructed Burholme serving as a worthy setting. When Joseph died in 1868 he willed Burholme to his son Robert Waln Ryerss [1831-1896], a lawyer. Robert also loved to travel and collected more treasures to be displayed at Burholme. Eight months before he died at the age of 65, Robert shocked Philadelphia society by marrying his housekeeper of many years, Mary Ann Reed.

"Childless, Robert left Mary Ann a comfortable annuity and Burholme for her lifetime. Mary Ann traveled around the world and continued to collect objects for the museum. The will stipulated that upon Mary Ann's death the estate was to be turned over to the city of Philadelphia to be used as a park, library and museum "free to the public." Robert Ryerss also provided for the purchase of new books and maintenance of the house and grounds."

Mary Ann turned the property over to the administration of the City of Philadelphia Fairmount Park Commission in 1905, and the Ryerss Museum and Library opened to the public in 1910. Mary Ann remarried to Episcopal Reverend John G. Bawn, and the couple remained involved in preparing and developing the museum. They traveled extensively to collect new items for its displays, and it was on such a collecting mission in China that Mary Ann died in 1916.

Bibliography:

Ryerss Museum and Library. "History." Accessed January 27, 2012. http://ryerssmuseum.org/history1.html

Scope and Contents

The Ryerss family papers, 1758-1931, contain documents, photographs, and volumes. Most of the collection relates to Robert W. Ryerss, his Waln antecedents, or his wife Mary Ann Reed (later Bawn).

The documents, which consist of letters, marriage certificates, and other miscellaneous papers, date from 1758 to 1931 and feature a significant amount of 18th-century items. The photographs mostly date from around the turn of the 20th century, and depict the cities to which Mary Ann traveled after Robert Ryerss' death. There is also a large collection of glass-plate negatives of Burholme. Additional photographs can be found in volumes of this collection. There are four photograph albums, mostly containing cartes-des-visite portraits of Ryerss/Waln family members. Other volumes in the collection include scrapbooks by Robert Ryerss' mother, Anne Waln; a book of recipes collected by Anne's mother, Phoebe Waln; and early catalogs of the Ryerss' Museum and Library collections compiled by Rev. Bawn.

The rough inventory compiled by Ryerrs staff and given below includes boxed items in the Ryerss family papers. There are about 40 additional framed photographs not described in this inventory, mostly documenting the travels abroad of Mary Ann and Rev. Brawn after Robert's death.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Ryerss Museum and Library

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories

Sponsor

This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Access Restrictions

Contact Ryerss Museum and Library for information about accessing this collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Gift of Robert Ryerss.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials Note

Haverford College, Quaker and Special Collections: Nicholas Waln Family Papers, 1783-1895 (bulk 1783-1819), Ms. Coll. 966.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania: Robert Waln Papers, Collection 687.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania: Smith-Waln Family Papers, Collection 1628.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)
  • Ryerss Museum and Library.
Family Name(s)
  • Waln family
Geographic Name(s)
  • Northeast Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)
Personal Name(s)
  • Bawn, John G.
  • Bawn, Mary Ann
  • Ryerss, Anne Waln, 1813-1886
  • Ryerss, Robert W., 1831-1896
Subject(s)
  • Collectors and collecting
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Quakers
  • Travel

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Collection Inventory

Documents.

Box

Bell Telephone Company of Philadelphia document, 1902.

Uncataloged document box

Benjamin Morgan, disownment from Society of Friends, 1772 [21-005-01].

Flat File Box A

Card of admission [21-041-01].

Flat File Box A

Early catalog of Robert W. Ryerss museum.

Uncataloged document box

Geneaology of Isaac La Fure [21-059-01].

Flat File Box A

History of Burholme [21-043-01].

Flat File Box D

Joseph Waln Marriage Certificate 1801 [21-011-01].

Flat File Box A

Joseph Waln Marriage Certificate 1830 [21-012-01].

Flat File Box A

Land Patent-called the Ryerss Tract, 1792 [21-014-01].

Box 3

Letter from Benjamin Franklin, 1771 [21-053-01].

Flat File Box A

Letter from Benjamin R. Morgan [21-054-01].

Flat File Box A

Letter from C. A. Robbins to Fairmount Park Commission, 1931 [21-057-01].

Flat File Box A

Letter from Eli Lewis to Martha Routh [21-048-01].

Flat File Box A

Letter Joseph Ryerss to his uncle, 1824 [21-044-01].

Flat File Box A

Letter My Friend...1797 [21-050-01].

Flat File Box A

Letter of Condolenscences of Atlantic Insurance to Robt W. Ryerss [21-058-01].

Flat File Box A

Letter Robert Barron's Testimony... [21-045-01].

Flat File Box A

Letter, Mary Ann Ryerss Bawn to Florence, 1906.

Uncataloged document box

Letter, Phoebe Waln to James Josiah [21-056-01].

Flat File Box A

London Times, 1806 [21-003-01].

Box 3

Map of the Vicinity of Philadelphia (J. E. Gillette & Co.), 1861 [21-042-01].

Flat File Box D

Marriage Certificate Benjamin R. 1761 [21-008-01].

Box 4

Marriage Certificate James Pemb. 1775 [21-009-01].

Box 4

Minute of Frankford Borough regarding visit of General Lafayette [21-046-01].

Flat File Box A

Morgan certificate to practice law [21-013-01].

Flat File Box A

Notes on Walne family history [21-040-01].

Flat File Box A

Poetry fragments.

Uncataloged document box

Receipt, D. Whelan, 1869 [21-07-01].

Flat File Box A

Robert W. Ryerss Diploma [07-052-02].

Flat File Box D

Robert W. Ryerss Passport [21-047-01].

Flat File Box A

Ryerss Family Record [21-052-01].

Flat File Box A

Ryerss quit claim deed [21-055-01].

Flat File Box A

Samuel Mort Marriage Certificate 1758 [21-010-01].

Flat File Box A

Ten Schillings [21-031-01].

Box 3

Will of [Gozen] Ryerss, 1827 [21-051-01].

Flat File Box A

Photographs.

Box

Cathedral [21-071-01].

Flat File Box C

Chinese hand colored [21-069-01].

Flat File Box C

Colored photograph [21-074-01].

Flat File Box C

Colored photograph [21-075-01].

Flat File Box C

Colored photograph [21-076-01].

Flat File Box C

Colored photograph [21-077-01].

Flat File Box C

Colored photograph [21-078-01].

Flat File Box C

Colored photographs of European cities, circa 1900.

Box E

Glass plate negatives of Ryerss mansion.

Small box

Photographs of Ryerss Mansion and slide inventory lists.

Unmarked document box

Daguerrotype- Mrs. Annie Waln Ryerss [21-021-01].

Box 1

Hand tint photo [21-020-02].

Box 1

Hand tint photo [21-020-01].

Box 1

Joseph Ryerss [21-019-01].

Box 1

Joseph Ryerss (framed) [21-017-01].

Box 1

Mary Anne on pony w/ natives [21-061-01].

Flat File Box B

Mary Anne Ryerss [21-018-01].

Box 1

Mary Anne Ryerss [21-018-02].

Box 1

Mary Anne Ryerss [21-018-03].

Box 1

Mary Anne Ryerss [21-018-04].

Box 1

Mary Anne Ryerss [21-018-05].

Box 1

Mary Anne Ryerss [21-018-06].

Box 1

Mary Anne Ryerss [21-022-01].

Box 1

Pennsylvania Delegation to The Seventh Continental Congress [21-073-01].

Flat File Box C

Robert W. Ryerss Memorial Hospital For The Insane [21-067-01].

Flat File Box C

Robert W. Ryerss Memorial Hospital For The Insane [21-068-01].

Flat File Box C

Ryerss in Carriage [21-060-01].

Flat File Box B

Ryerss in Carriage [21-064-01].

Flat File Box B

Ryerss in hand carriage China [21-065-01].

Flat File Box B

Ryerss In Tradition Chinese costume [21-066-01].

Flat File Box B

Ryerss on camel in front of Giza [21-062-01].

Flat File Box B

Ryerss on steps [21-063-01].

Flat File Box B

The Flume hand colored 5 x 7 [21-072-01].

Flat File Box C

Well dedication South India [21-070-01].

Flat File Box C

Volumes.

Box

"Soldiers of War" photograph album, Anna Waln Ryerss [21-028-01].

Box 2

Anna Waln [Mrs. Joseph Ryerss] scrapbook, greeting cards [3438].

Scrapbook box 3438

Anna Waln [Mrs. Joseph Ryerss] scrapbook, prints of royals and landscapes [3375].

Scrapbook box 3375

Anna Waln [Mrs. Joseph Ryerss] scrapbook, Waln family history clippings and decorative prints.

Scrapbook box

Anna Waln, commonplace book, 1824.

no box

Book of poems, 1815.

Uncataloged document box

Book of watercolor paintings by Anna W. Ryerss.

no box

Diary, 1868 [21-081-01].

no box

Family photograph album, circa 1870-1900.

Box 2

Ledger, James McDevitt, 1877-1891 [21-025-01].

Box 1

Parables book [21-030-01].

Box 3

Phoebe Waln cookbook [21-026-01].

Box 1

Photo album of Ryerss museum [21-024-01].

Box 1

Photograph album of Burholme with Waln family history [21-023-01].

Box 1

Photograph album, "Castle," circa 1870-1900.

Box 2

Photograph album, wood cover, circa 1870-1900 [21-029-01].

Box 2

Rev. Bawn Catalogue of Books A [21-032-03].

Box 3

Rev. Bawn Catalogue of Books B [21-032-04].

Box 3

Rev. Bawn Catalogue of Chinaware, glassware, etc. [21-032-01].

Box 3