February 27, 2008

My processing table today

When I arrived this morning, I felt confident that I would finish processing Benjamin Chew's legal papers. I had a few stacks, a few boxes with newly labeled folders, and some miscellaneous documents that still needed a place. I had one mysterious folder with only covers from letters and legal documents. I wondered "where are the documents that go with the covers?" I decided to look in another series that I had shifted. There were the letters and a bunch of new material related to an estate that Benjamin Chew administered. So much for the day's plan!

In the midst of these papers, there were some juicy bits of correspondence such as Samuel Chew's discussion of his upcoming conference with Quaker leaders about his daughter's marriage outside the faith:

"Breach of order & Discipline indeed always makes the by when one of Christ's Lambs gets out of the Fold, & they must act a Farce even when they are pleased at the Thing. It is upon this Ground that I am the Subject of Church Dealing for consenting to Betsey's Marriage to one of a different Persuation by the Hands of a Priest. I have had two Embassies from as many monthly meetings, to both which I behaved with great Civility & Decorum ..." Later in the letter, he refers to the fact that he was instructed to admit his error "from under my Hand or make my personal appearance at their Little vile Monthly Meeting." [Samuel Chew (1693-1744) to Edward Tilghman (1713-1785), July 29th 1741]

He was certainly not a man to keep his opinions to himself.

February 22, 2008

Treaty at Easton


I just finished conservation on the Treaty at Easton. This manuscript is a "Report of the Committee of the Council appointed to enquire into the complaints of the Indians at the Treaty at Easton the 8th of November 1756." One of the great things about this document is the list of the signatures of the Indian Chiefs. For conservation, I replaced the torn paper wrapper, with a
new sheet of Cave Paper and mended the tears on the edges of the paper.

map of the land purchased from the Delawares

February 13, 2008

The Project Unfolds

The Chew Family Papers is one of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's largest collections of family papers, spanning approximately 400 linear feet, and covering a period of nearly 300 years. This collection details the family's activities as lawyers and politicians, as well as the events of their daily lives.

The Chews were one of Philadelphia's wealthiest and most influential families. Benjamin Chew (1722-1810), his siblings, and descendants, played fundamental roles in shaping revolutionary and early federal America. They acted as lawyers for the Penn family, served on the Commission to determine the boundary line between Pennsylvania and Maryland, held high public offices, and purchased large amounts of property in the Delaware river valley. As one of the largest slave-owning families in the mid-Atlantic region, the Chews maintained numerous farms and plantations, and kept careful documentation about their practices.

This collection contains rich materials for researchers interested in slavery in the North, as well as more specific information about the lives of the Chew's slaves. In one letter, a slave named Joseph asks to be transfered to another place of employment so that he may be closer to his wife. There are many more such stories in this collection.

The correspondence, journals, accounts, and land records of the Chews illuminate the lives of slaves and servants, women and children, laborers and surveyors. As we open each box and unfold more bundles, new stories emerge.