An Inventory of the Paul M. Pearson Papers, 1890-1969 (bulk 1890-1938)

(22 boxes; 11 linear ft.)

RG 5/121

© Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College.  
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081-1399 U.S.A.  

Seal of Swarthmore College
Table of contents
Paul M. Pearson (1871-1938) was a noted Quaker educator, editor, and speaker, a professor of public speaking at Swarthmore College, the first civilian governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, an assistant director of the U.S. Housing Authority, and a leading founder and executive in the Chautauqua movement. The collection contains biographical and genealogical materials, personal correspondence (1894-1938), writings (published and manuscript), extensive material on the Swarthmore Chautauqua as well as papers relating to his work with the National Community Foundation, the Virgin Islands, and U.S. Housing Authority. There are also a small number of papers concerning Drew Pearson (1897-1969), his son and a syndicated national columnist.

Background note:
BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL Paul M. Pearson (1871-1938) was a noted Quaker educator and speaker, governor of the Virgin Islands, assistant director of the U.S. Housing Authority, and a leading founder and executive of the Chautauqua movement.

1971-1896 Paul M. Pearson was born on a farm in Illinois in 1871, raised a Methodist, and graduated from Baker University. He also studied at Harvard University and Northwestern. In 1896, he married Edna Wolfe, and the couple had four children, including the well-known columnist Drew Pearson.
1902-1916 Beginning in 1902, he taught public speaking at Swarthmore College. He edited and wrote for the magazine Talent, a magazine of the Lyceum” and for “the Speaker.” In 1906, he and his family became members of Swarthmore Monthly Meeting.
1912-1930 In 1912, while at Swarthmore, he founded Swarthmore Chautauqua Association, a non-profit enterprise financially backed by private investors, many of whom were Quakers. The Association at its peak operated about 2,000 Chautauqua in the smaller towns along the eastern seaboard. The Chautauqua movement was an institution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries which provided popular education along with entertainment in the form of concerts, lectures, and the like, generally travelling on a circuit to small towns to provide enrichment. Pearson resigned his position as head of the public speaking department at Swarthmore College to devote full time to Chautauqua. He also was active in the Chautauqua at the national level and served as president of the International Lyceum and Chautauqua Association.
1931-1935, 1935-1938 In 1931, he was appointed by President Herbert Hoover to serve as the first civilian governor of the Virgin Islands. In 1935 he was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to the post as assistant U.S. housing director in charge of public welfare, a position he held until his death.
Scope and content
SCOPE AND CONTENT The collection contains the papers of Paul M. Pearson, noted Quaker lecturer, editor, and civic leader. Included are biographical and genealogical materials, personal correspondence (1894-1938), writings, extensive material on the Swarthmore Chautauqua as well as papers relating to his work with the National Community Foundation, the Virgin Islands, and U.S. Housing Authority. There are also a small number of papers concerning Drew Pearson (1897-1969), his son and a syndicated national columnist.

Arrangement The collection is divided into twelve series:

Added entries

  • Chautauqua
  • Civic leaders--Quakers
  • Pearson family
  • Quakers - Pennsylvania - Swarthmore
  • Quakers -- Pennsylvania -- Delaware County
  • Quakers --Civic leaders
  • Quakers --Education
  • Speeches
  • Swarthmore (Pa.) --Quakers
  • Virgin Islands of the United States - Administrative and political
Additional Authors and Contributors
  • Pearson, Drew, 1897-1969
  • Pearson, Paul M. (Paul Martin), 1871-1938
  • Swarthmore Chautauqua Association (Swarthmore, Pa.)
  • Swarthmore College
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Processed by: Finding Aid Prepared by FHL staff
Date: 1973
Restrictions: Use Restrictions Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.
Sponsor: Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries


Note to Researchers: To request materials, please note both the location and box numbers shown below:

Ser. 1. Biographical and genealogical material, 1938

Includes obituaries and condolence letters written to Edna Wolfe Pearson and Drew Pearson. 1938 Box 1

Ser. 2. Personal correspondence, 1894-1938
Arranged chronologically.

Letters of Sept. and Oct., 1902, contain interesting descriptions of the College and Faculty of that period.
1894-1904 (7 folders) Box 2

Correspondence 1905-1909 (4 folders) Box 2a

Correspondence 1910-1912 (7 folders) Box 3

Correspondence 1916-1938 (9 folders) Box 4

Correspondence concerning miscarriage
Includes correspondence with Josephine Bruer, 1908-1913.
n.d., ca. 1900-1912 (10 folders) Box 4a

Ser. 3. Writings, 1890-1925

Manuscript articles, speeches, and sermons.
Folders concerning: Dickens, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Emerson, Eugene Field, Joel Harris and Mrs. Stuart, Kipling, Longfellow, Tennyson, and Twain, as well as humorists, are included.
(13 folders) Box 5

Diary of trip to England, to contact prospects for Chautauqua lecturers.
Also includes Hymns. Printed - Talent, 7/1890 to 6/1897
1919 Box 5a

Printed - Talent 7/1897 - 1908 Box 6-9

Lyceum Magazine 1925 12mo.

Speaker 1905-1908, 1924, 1925

Intercollegiate Debates, edited by Paul M. Pearson 1909

Ser. 4. Chautauqua material, 1906-1973

Charter of the Swarthmore Chautauqua Association
See: RG 5 Oversize
1919 Box 10-11

Correspondence, 1914-1935

Correspondence 1914-1935 Box 10-11

Correspondence re: European trips to arrange for Chautauqua lectures 1916-1919 Box 10-11

Correspondence, Mid-West Chautauqua circuit failure 1929-1931 Box 10-11

Speeches 1923 and n.d. Box 10-11

Personnel Box 10-11

Superintendent's Bulletins, Memorials to Chautauqua workers 1917-1930, and n.d. Box 10-11

Operation Box 10-11

Programs and brochures, photographs Box 10-11

Summer Chautauqua festivals Box 10-11

Atlas used in planning circuits Box 10-11

Finances, Lists of guarantors for Chautauqua festivals Box 10-11

Publicity: Press releases and copies of articles on Chautauqua
Includes Barbara Pearson Lange's draft of chapter for Maud Bishop's Gates to Swarthmore, 1963
1905-1963, and n.d. Box 10-11

Clippings 1916-1973 Box 10-11

Notes for proposed book on Chautauqua, and notebook Box 10-11

Who's Who in the Lyceum, edited by A. Augustus Wright, published by the Pearson brothers 1906 Box 10-11


Ser. 5. National Community Foundation and Oglebay Park and Institute, 1928-30
The National Community Foundation was founded in 1927 as an endowment fund to promote popular education and cultural enrichment. It was discontinued in 1930.

Various materials 1928-1930 Box 12

Ser. 6. Virgin Islands material, 1928-1952

Includes letters by Drew and Leon Pearson to Paul M. Pearson and others concerning the Virgin Islands, 1934-1935, 1935.
1931-1933, 1934 Box 13

Policy, ordinances, administration, and information on the Governor Box 13

Resumes of applicants for employment Box 13

Speeches and addresses given in, or about, the Virgin Islands Box 13

Bankruptcy material (personal bankruptcy of Paul M. Pearson), financial and legal papers. 1930-1935 Box 13

Clippings and press releases 1930-1952, and n.d. Box 14,14a

McIntosh case 1934 Box 15

Morris Davis case 1934-35. Box 15

Baer and Yates cases 1934-35 Box 15

Virgin Islands Senate investigation in May-July 1936 1934-38 Box 15

Annual Reports 1928-1934 (with gaps) Box 15

Other types of reports Box 15

Articles about the Virgin Islands Box 15

Miscellaneous papers Box 15

Pictures Box 15

Scrapbooks, 1931-1935 Box 15a

Family letters and clippings 1931-34 Box 15a

Clippings and press releases 1931-35 Box 15a

Ser. 7. Assistant Director of Housing, 1935-1938
Paul M. Pearson was appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, July 1935, and served until his death on Mar. 26, 1938. See Series 6, Box 13, for letter appointment by Roosevelt, July 23, 1935.

Correspondence 1935-1938 Box 16

Ser. 8. Memorabilia, 1922-1936, n.d.
Box 16

Miscellaneous memorabilia
Includes Paul M. Pearson's passport; note about Jane Addams, n.d.; Goose Creek MM parody on a travelling minister's journal of his visits by William W. Speakman (witty references to Charles F. Jenkins, William I. Hull, Jesse Holmes, J. Russell Hayes, Paul Pearson, William C. Sproul, and their wives, 1922); autograph album, 1/1/1930; invitations; articles saved; script of one act play by Leon M. Pearson; souvenir booklet of visit to Atlanta School of Social Work, May 28, 1936.
1922-1936, n.d.

Ser. 9. Pictorial material

Pictorial material
See also FHL picture files
Box 16

Ser. 10. Reference material, 1920-1928, n.d.

Libraries and library extension work 1920-1928 Box 17

Collection of stories, poems, and quotations used in lecture work, or as a collection of personal favorites Box 17

Samples of stationery Box 17

Ser. 11. Miscellaneous, 1966

Press releases by Leon Pearson while editor of the Phoenix at Swarthmore College Box 17

Article by Barbara Pearson Lane in the Swarthmore College Bulletin, Alumni Issue
Based on letters from Paul Pearson to his wife, Edna, from Sept. and Oct. of 1902, when PMP first came to teach at Swarthmore. Article called “Keep your Suspenders Up”. Barbara Lange was in the class of 1931.
March 1966 Box 17

Ser. 12. Drew Pearson, Papers, 1948-1969

Memorabilia Box 17

Pictures taken for use in articles written in the early 1920s Box 17

Autograph album on occasion of testimonial dinner given Drew Pearson in Swarthmore, Pa. 4/16/1948 Box 17

Eulogies 1969 9mo. Box 17

Autobiographical articles from The Saturday Evening Post Box 17