Scrapbook Memories: Still Here...
The PHS archives hold a number of family papers—sorted collections of records, correspondence, photographs, and other items the Society makes available to researchers. Bill Brock, our Collection Management Archivist, recently completed the Finding Aid for the Converse Family Papers (Record Group 474).
Four generations of Converses owned and operated the newspaper Christian Observer. Through a series of mergers with other periodicals and relocations to Philadelphia, Richmond, and Louisville, the paper became the largest circulating Presbyterian weekly in the United States. In addition to the Observer, the Converse family was affiliated with a number of Presbyterian and non-denominational institutions in the North and South, including Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University.
Amasa Converse, the family patriarch, entered PTS in December 1823; his eldest son, Francis B. Converse, followed suit in 1859. Francis B. Converse’s second son, Harry P. Converse, attended Princeton University, where he was a member of the Colonial Club and editor of the college magazine, The Princeton Tiger, before graduating in 1899. From 1907 to his death in 1960, he used the skills he’d developed at the Tiger in his role as managing editor of the Observer, helping the paper to prosper (“Under God’s Power She Flourishes,” in the words of Princeton University’s motto: “Deī sub nūmine viget.”)
Included in the Converse Family Papers, 1837-1979, are letters, financial and legal records, printed matter, and photographs. One item of special visual interest is Harry P. Converse’s scrapbook featuring photos, ticket stubs, fliers, and other keepsakes from his time at Princeton University. The scrapbook’s well-preserved pages provide us with the pictures found below (click to see them up close). Next time you’re in Philadelphia, or traveling to nearby Mercer County, New Jersey, consider stopping by for a look.