BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL NOTE
Samuel Shinn Ash, son of Dr. Caleb and Rebecca (Shinn) Ash, was born Feb. 2, 1829, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Caleb
Ash was described as a “radical Quaker and Reformer.” His marriage to Rebecca Shinn was the first to be solemnized in the
new Cherry Street Meeting House; the bride's family had taken the Orthodox side in the Separation of 1827 and did not attend
The family moved to Darby in 1834, and here Samuel Shinn Ash received his early education. At 15, he joined the Franklin Institute,
of which he remained a life-long member. Apprenticed as an engineer and machinist, he joined the firm of Howard and Son (later
Howard and Ash) and subsequently worked to perfect a stamp-perforating machine for the manufacture of U.S. postage and revenue
stamps. At the termination of the Government contract, he joined the furniture and upholstery firm of Amos Hillborn, where
he remained until his retirement in 1897.
In 1859 he married Sarah J. Schofield, daughter of Oliver W. and Mary Jackson Schofield of Darby. Three sons and one daughter
were born of this marriage, the youngest son and the daughter surviving their parents. A number of the letters in the collection
concern the loss of the two older sons, at ages of 14 and 21 respectively.
Throughout their lives, Samuel Shinn Ash and his wife were active members of their Meeting. He was not only a minister much
in demand for a variety of spiritual services, but they were active in a wide range of philanthropic activities, antislavery,
peace and temperance movements, women's rights, and education. As clerk of the First Meeting of Friends' Educational Association,
he was one of the founders of Swarthmore College. Samuel Shinn Ash died in 1911, and Sarah Ash died in 1912.
SCOPE AND CONTENT OF THE RECORDS
This collection consists of family papers, manuscript letters and memorabilia, largely of a domestic nature. Includes some
descriptions of Meetings and religious journeys, of the early struggles of Samuel S. Ash in engineering and business, and
references to the Schofield Normal and Industrial School in Aiken, S.C., of which Martha Schofield, one of the correspondents,
was Manager. The exchange of letters between Mary S. Ash and her mother, Sarah Ash, describes student life at Swarthmore College
in the 1890's.
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