French Benevolent Society of Philadelphia records
The French Benevolent Society was founded in Philadelphia in 1793. The society serves indigents of French descent and provides scholarships to local students of French extraction. The records include minutes, correspondence, financial and membership records, case files, histories, and uncataloged...
|Collection:||French Benevolent Society of Philadelphia Records|
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Processing Information: This collection consists mainly of ledgers and correspondence in English and French. The correspondence is generally arranged chronologically but was also sorted by subject. The chronological arrangement was sometimes sacrificed, as the method in which the society kept its records was such that subjects of correspondence were housed in envelopes or document containers which were labeled by handwriting. This original arrangement was strictly preserved, and is reflected in the final formal arrangement. The original envelopes still exist as a part of the correspondence collections but the condition in which they are in is very unstable. Whenever possible, the envelopes were kept, clipped between two pieces of acid free paper. When the condition was too fragile, a photocopy was made and the original discarded. Some of the correspondence was also done on this type of paper. The brittle paper was photocopied onto acid free paper and the original is clipped between this photocopy and another piece of acid free paper. This treatment was also necessary for some of the correspondence from the Depression era. Newspaper clippings were photocopied onto acid free paper if they did not pre-date 1850. The Scrapbooks in Series V; Box 24; Folders 17 and 18 were NOT disassembled, nor were they photocopied, although the newspaper clippings are post-1950. In an effort to preserve the true nature of the scrapbooks and the clippings and items within them, they were instead lined with acid-free paper. In this collection the scrapbooks have more meaning as a unit and the destruction of them would mean a loss to some researchers
12.3 Linear feet ; 29 boxes
The collection is open for research.
The French Benevolent Society was founded in Philadelphia in 1793. The society serves indigents of French descent and provides scholarships to local students of French extraction. The records include minutes, correspondence, financial and membership records, case files, histories, and uncataloged photographs.
The French Benevolent Society was founded in 1793, but there are no remaining records from this original charter period. The organization was re-chartered in 1805 and then re-chartered again in 1835. The materials from the period between 1804 and 1835 are mainly the correspondence of Jean Claude Laval (the first president under the 1805 charter). Much of this correspondence is with a book seller, James McCoy and has little to do with the activities of the society. The 1804 constitution is housed in Series IV; Box 16; Folder 5. Beginning in 1835, the collection becomes rich in materials. It is assumed that this is when a formal record retention policy was instituted, and it is the earliest date on a formal ledger—the History of the Society Ledger (Series IV, Box 16, Folder 2) dates from 1835-1875. The correspondence dating from the 1830 through the 1850s is again mostly correspondence of Jean Claude Laval. There are also society notices and meeting announcements and society condolences in this period as well. The bulk of the material begins in the 1850s. The correspondence between 1848 and 1864 is held in the Lettered Correspondence Series III, Sub Series A, in the “K” and “R” sequences. The French Benevolent Society hosted an annual Ball that began in 1847. Series V; Boxes 24 and 26 contain the Ball correspondence and scrapbooks. The Financial Records of the Benevolent Society mostly contain the Property records. The Society generated revenue through investments in properties. They collected rent on these properties and it is these records which are housed in Series II. Treasurer’s Reports can also be found in the Lettered Correspondence Series III, but remain there because of the original order of Lettered envelopes (see Series Notes below). There are financial records and Income/Expense reports covering the years 1843-1941. There are Membership lists and Meeting Minutes from 1830-1941. (Administrative Series IV; Boxes 18-23). The Case Files, cover the years 1914 through 1941. Most cases records are in this period which encompassed World War I, the Depression, and the beginning of World War II. The Fatherless Children of France adoptee records are contained in this series, and the photographs removed from the collection were removed from this Box (27). The List Helped Ledgers contain records from 1874-1913. For the continuation of the French Benevolent Society Records, see the Francis James Dallett Papers (Collection 3046). This collection also contains background on French families in Philadelphia, with a special emphasis on the families of the members of the French Benevolent Society. There are notes on the French influence in Philadelphia, Maryland and New York.