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Isaiah V. Williamson financial papers

1835-1898, 5.5 linear feet

03

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Williamson College of the Trades (Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades). Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

Repository:
Williamson College of the Trades (Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades)
Creator:
Williamson, Isaiah V., 1803-1889
Title:
Isaiah V. Williamson financial papers
Date [inclusive]:
1835-1898
Call Number:
03
Extent:
5.5 Linear feet
Language:
English
Abstract:
Isaiah V. Williamson (1803-1889) was born in Fallsington, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. After becoming a successful merchant in Philadelphia and retiring in 1838, Williamson turned to investing and philanthropy. In 1888, Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades (now known as Williamson College of the Trades) in Middletown Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania was established with an endowment from Williamson. The Isaiah V. Williamson financial papers, 1835-1898, consist of various documents and volumes relating to Isaiah Williamson's financial interests, including some legal and estate papers dating from after his death. There is also a small amount of secondary-source materials, such as newspaper clippings of Williamson's obituary and research on Williamson and his family members and associates.
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Biography/History

"On December 1, 1888, Isaiah Vansant Williamson [(1803-1889)], a Philadelphia merchant and philanthropist, founded The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades [in Middletown Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania]. His purpose in founding the School was to provide financially disadvantaged young men with the opportunity to become productive and respected members of society...

"I. V. Williamson was born in 1803 in Fallsington, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to a Quaker family whose ancestors came to America before William Penn. As a boy, Williamson worked as an apprentice in a country store, saving enough money to open his own dry goods store in Philadelphia. For a number of years, he ran the store and several subsequent businesses quite successfully, enabling him to retire in 1838 with a small fortune. Adopting the custom of wealthy young men at that time, he traveled throughout Europe for a couple years.

"Upon his return, Williamson began a plan for investing his money and by 1880 had become one of the wealthiest men in Philadelphia. As his wealth grew he turned to philanthropy, giving away much of his fortune. A self-effacing man, he anonymously gave large sums to favorite charities, hospitals, colleges, and homes for children. The founding of The Williamson Free School with a two million dollar endowment was one of his last charitable acts before he died in 1889.

"Upon founding the School, he directed through a deed of trust that the Quaker ideals of hard work, honesty, religious faith, and modest lifestyle be instilled in the students. In his own words, he said that "in this country every able-bodied, healthy young man who has learned a good mechanical trade, and is truthful, honest, frugal, temperate, and industrious, is certain to succeed in life, and to become a useful and respected member of society." Although some of the original rules have since been adapted to the times, the School remains dedicated to the values upon which it was founded."

Bibliography:

Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades. "A Brief History of the Williamson School." 2011. Accessed on January 16, 2015. http://www.williamson.edu/about/history.htm.

Scope and Contents

This collection, which dates from 1835 to 1898, consists of various documents and volumes relating to Isaiah Williamson's financial interests, including some legal and estate papers dating from after his death. There is also a small amount of secondary-source materials, such as newspaper clippings of Williamson's obituary and research on Williamson and his family members and associates.

Most of the financial papers in this collection relate to Williamson's investments and philanthropic activity rather than his mercantile business in Philadelphia. Documents include tax returns, stock certificates, deeds and property-related papers, correspondence, check stubs, deposits, a will, an estate inventory and additional legal papers, insurance material, memoranda, a rent ledger, a letter copybook, trust closures, receipts, account books, and estate stocks and bonds.

There are objects associated with this collection.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Williamson College of the Trades (Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades)

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu 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 Williamson College of the Trades (Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades) for information about accessing this collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Gift of relatives of Isaiah V. Williamson, circa 1899-1900

Processing Information Note

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Williamson College of the Trades (Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades) directly for more information.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials Note

Historical Society of Pennsylvania: John Wanamaker collection, 1827-1987, coll. 2188.

Williamson College of the Trades (Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades): Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades records, 1746-2014 (bulk 1888-2014).

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)
  • Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades
Geographic Name(s)
  • Delaware County (Pa.)
  • Middletown (Delaware County, Pa. : Township)
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)
Personal Name(s)
  • Williamson, Isaiah V., 1803-1889
Subject(s)
  • Capitalists and financiers
  • Endowments
  • Investments
  • Merchants
  • Philanthropists

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