Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College

Summary Information

Repository:
Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Source - dnr:
Erb, Christine
Creator - trc:
Erb, Christine
Creator - com:
Hadley, Alice Paxson
Title:
Collected papers of Alice P. Hadley and the Thread and Needle Society
ID:
SFHL/RG5/302
Date [bulk]:
1873-1897
Date [inclusive]:
1873-1897, 2015
Physical Description:
.5 Linear Feet
Language of the Material:
English
Abstract:
Alice C. Paxson Hadley (1857-1919) was the daughter of Frederick and Lydia Betts Paxson, Philadelphia Hicksite Quakers. She was a founding member of the Thread and Needle Society, a social and charitable club of young Friends. Alice kept a diary that recorded events and meetings of the group 1873 to 1880 which were transcribed by her great-granddaughter, and she collected memorabilia and speeches she presented.

Preferred Citation

[Indicate the cited item here], Collected Papers of Alice P. Hadley and the Thread and Needle Society, RG5/302, Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College

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Biographical / Historical

Alice C. Paxson (1857-1919) was the daughter of Frederick Paxson and Lydia Betts Paxson, Philadelphia Hicksite Quakers. She was a founding member of the Thread and Needle Society where she met her future husband through mutual friends. Alice married Walter Hadley (1857-1896), an Indiana Quaker, in 1883, and they lived in New Mexico where Walter managed a mining operation. She was widowed 1896 and moved to Swarthmore, purchasing house at 411 Cedar Lane next-door to the home where her older brother, Charles Paxson, lived with his in-laws, Thomas Heston Hall and Lydia Cox Hall. The Halls were early residents of Swarthmore, and their daughter Alice (1868-1955) graduated from Swarthmore College as did her four siblings.

Alice and Walter Paxson had one child, Caroline (1885-1946). Caroline graduated from Swarthmore College in 1906 and married Louis N. Robinson, Class of 1905, a prominent economist and penologist. In 1952, Louis Robinson bequeathed the house to Swarthmore College in memory of his wife. The extended family has many connections with Swarthmore College.

The Thread and Needle Society began as a sewing group established in the fall of 1873 by young Philadelphia Hicksite Quaker women. The group met in members' homes twice a month. After spending the afternoon sewing clothing for a family in need, they shared supper and were joined by young men socializing and participating in programs organized by members. On special occasions, the group met for dancing, picnics or other outings.

Alice enjoyed a close circle of friendship with the Smyth, Cooper, Ferris, and Paxson families of Philadelphia. She was especially close to her siblings, Charles (born 1855), Anna ("Nan," born 1852), and Mary (born 1860), all of whom were members of the Thread and Needle. Some of the members were classmates at Friends Central School or members of the Young People's Temperance Union. Many were related, and all were unmarried at the time they joined the group. A number of members were introduced to their future spouses through the Society. Members resigned when they married, but were welcome at the annual meeting. In 1884, with few of the original members still attending, the group disbanded. They agreed to hold annual meetings; the last year of the announcements is 1897.

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Scope and Contents

Alice C. Paxson Hadley (1857-1919) was a founding member of the Thread and Needle Society, a social and charitable club of young Philadelphia Hicksite Friends. Alice kept a diary that recorded events and meetings of the group 1873 to 1880 which were transcribed by her great-granddaughter, and she collected memorabilia and speeches she presented. The collection offers insight into the social life of Philadelphia young Quakers, concentrating on close friendships and family connections.

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Administrative Information

Publication Statement

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College

500 College Avenue Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081 friends@swarthmore.edu URL: http://www.swarthmore.edu/friends-historical-library.xml

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Christine Erb, great-grandaughter of Alice Paxson Hadley, Accession FHL 2015.019

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Related Materials

Related Materials

RG5/040, Ferris Family Papers, Series 4, Henry C. Ferris. PG7/Hadley family

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Controlled Access Headings

  • Thread and Needle Society (Club)
  • Quakers -- Pennsylvania
  • Quakers -- Societies, etc.
  • Quakers -- Clubs
  • Quakers -- Social life and customs

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Collection Inventory

Title/Description Instances
Excerpts from Alice Paxson's diary (transcript), 1873-1880

Scope and Contents: Typed mss transcribed by Christine Erb, great-granddaughter. Alice recorded events of the meetings and significant events in the lives of current and former members. The group made a quilt as a wedding gift when Alice married Walter Hadley in October 1883. The transcriber notes that after the death of fellow member and close friend, Frank Ferris, Alice no longer kept her diary but rather wrote to her fiancé Walter Hadley who had moved to the New Mexico to seek a cure. Like his friend Frank Ferris, Walter died of tuberculosis, and Alice then returned to Pennsylvania.

AL to "My dear sisters", 1884

Scope and Contents: Incomplete letter describing an outing by the group. The author is identified by the donor as Mary Paxson, writing to sister Alice and Nan.

Letters between Charlie Paxson and Warner Walter , 1884

Scope and Contents: Squabble over seating in a sleigh ride. Charlie apparently was in charge of assigning seats for the group. Carbon copy?

North Broad Street Help and Escort Service notes , 1883-1884

Scope and Contents: "News items" about the Society from Charles Paxson and others sent to Alice after her move to isolated New Mexico. Spoof letter from Henry Ferris to Charles Paxson with mention of group's trip to Mt. Cuba. Also verse on birth of Frederick Suplee in 1883, son of members Anna ("Nan") Paxson and William Suplee.

Talks presented at Thread and Needles, Approximate

Scope and Contents: Written in Alice Paxson's hand. Also two annotated published plays used by group as a base for entertainment

Talks presented by Alice Paxson
Printed resolution laying down the Thread and Needle Society, 1884

Scope and Contents: Because most of the founding members, all friends, were no longer active, it was resolved to end regular meetings, but rather hold annual meetings as reunions

Third Annual Meeting poster, 1887

Scope and Contents: With photographs of members, some identified by donor. Adhesive trimmed from upper edge.

Programs and mementoes, 1877-1897

Scope and Contents: Includes programs of annual meetings, a small history published in 1888, and the 10th anniversary program which lists founders and members to date. The donor noted that active members Francis ("Frank") and Henry Ferris operated a printing and publishing company in Philadelphia and hence the wealth of nicely published programs and other notices.

Photographs, 1883-1897

Scope and Contents: 1883 group photograph of outing to Catskill Mountains. Photos of Alice Paxson Hadley and 1897 Thread and Needle Society card

Notes on the Thread and Needle Society, 2015

Creator - aui: Erb, Christine

Scope and Contents: The donor, Christine Erb, wrote a history of the Society with biographical information about the members.