French Benevolent Society of Philadelphia records

Collection MSS141

(12.3 Linear feet ; 29 boxes)

Summary Information

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
French Benevolent Society of Philadelphia.
French Benevolent Society of Philadelphia records
12.3 Linear feet ; 29 boxes
Finding aid prepared by Michelle A. Ducellier.
The reformatting of this finding aid into EAD was made possible by generous donations from Page Talbot and the Young Friends of HSP.
Language note
The papers are in the French and English.
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.

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Background note

The French Benevolent Society was founded on February 6, 1793—the anniversary of the alliance between France and the United States in the Revolutionary War. Although its existence was threatened in 1798, the organization developed a Constitution in 1804, was chartered in 1805, then re-chartered in 1835. It adopted new Articles of Incorporation in 1986 and became an incorporated charity in 1987. Francis Dallett, the honorary Vice President and Archivist of the Society donated the Society’s materials to the Balch Institute in 1993 where they exist today.

The Society was founded to offer moral or financial assistance to those of French descent. This tradition started in 1793 to aid those fleeing the Revolution in France and the West Indies. When an outbreak of yellow fever occurred in the City of Philadelphia in August of 1793, the Society’s existence was sealed. Twenty-two percent of the population affected were new comers from Saint-Domingue (Haiti) and of French descent. The Society assisted the survivors and new arrivals from Saint-Domingue who were also fleeing revolution. Among the members of the first Society were diplomat Jean de Ternant, Philadelphia lawyer Peter Stephen du Ponceau, dentist James Gardette, ship broker and notary public Benjamin Nones and Consul General Antoine de la Forest. Nineteen others helped to co-found the Society. The Society was predominantly Catholic, but membership was open to all, and there existed both Protestant and Jewish members.

In 1798, the Society faced a slump, as the political scene became stable and French emigres were once again able to return to France. The Society had invested its money wisely, though, and was able to regroup in 1804. In that year, its members numbered one hundred and fourty-four. Jean Baptiste Marie Dubarry, Peter Stephen Du Ponceau, and Stephen Girard were all influential members of the “new” Society, now faced with the next wave of French emigration—the Bonapartists in 1815.

The Society continued to aid needy persons throughout the 1800s. Between the years 1847-1861, an annual ball was given to raise money. It became the toast of the season, selling out the Musical Fund Hall and generating hundreds of dollars for indigent French persons. When World War I left many French children without Fathers, the Benevolent Society was quick to sponsor these children, sending money so that they could remain in school. It helped on the homefront, as well, by assisting the wives of Frenchmen who enlisted as soldiers.

During the late 19th and early 20th century, the Society had many investments in properties throughout Philadelphia. The moneys generated through these investments enabled the Society to continue to help those who applied to them for assistance, whether it be for a job, for funeral expenses, or for transport back to France.

Through much of its existence, membership in the Society cost only three dollars. These annual subscriptions added to the revenue, along with money and properties they inherited from members and others who were deeply appreciative of the work the Society did for the French in the City. Architect and former President of the Society Paul Cret, Lucy Kille, Jules Kerle all left legacies to the Society affirming the need for it and the love and support of its members.

The Society often honored those whom it felt were deeply deserving. A portrait was made and a banquet held for H.A. Pintard, a long time member of the Society. A medal was engraved for the first President of France, M. Thiers, and was presented to him by the American Consulate in France. Telegrams were sent to Woodrow Wilson regarding American involvement in foreign wars. Letters of condolence were sent to the families of Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley. These efforts were always acknowledged by the distinguished recipients demonstrating the respect the Society generated both in the United States and in France.

The Members of the Board met monthly to go over the disbursements made, but the full membership met only once a year at the Annual Assembly. At the assembly, the President gave a report. These reports were often printed and always dictated into the papers of the Society.

There are few materials in this collection post 1941. The Society has slowly suffered a loss in membership and what remains of the more recent materials can be found in the collection of Francis Dallett, also held by the Balch Institute. His extensive research on the history and origins of the members of the Society blossomed into a vast collection of the French influence in Philadelphia and the French families who lived there.

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Scope and content note

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.

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Overview of arrangement

Series I. Correspondence

Series II. Financial records

Subseries II. a. Properties

Subseries II. b. Treasurer's reports

Subseries II. c. General accounting

Series III. Lettered Envelopes

Subseries III. a. Series "K"

Subseries III. b. Series "L"

Subseries III. c. Series "M"

Subseries III. d. Series "N"

Subseries III. e. Series "O"

Subseries III. f. Series "P"

Subseries III. g. Series "Q"

Subseries III. h. Series "R"

Subseries III. i. Series "S"

Subseries III. j. Series "T"

Subseries III. k. Series "U"

Subseries III. l. Series "V"

Series IV. Administration

Subseries IV. a. General history and constitutions

Subseries IV. b. Annual reports

Subseries IV. c. Membership information

Subseries IV. d. Meeting minutes

Series V. Fundraising events

Subseries V. a. Annual French Society Ball

Subseries V. b. Other events

Subseries V. c. Memorabilia

Series VI. Case files

Series VII. Printed and other ephemera

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania 1997

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107

Revision Description

 Finding aid revised to remove all restrictions. October 2016


The collection is open for research.


Gift of Francis J. Dallett, archivist of the French Benevolent Society, 1992.

Accession number M92-30.

Processing note

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

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Related Materials

Related materials

At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

Francis James Dallett Papers (Collection 3046)

French Benevolent Society of Philadelphia photographs (PG306)

L’Alliance Francaise de Philadelphie (Collection 3165)

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Controlled Access Headings


  • Charities--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.
  • French Americans--Charities.
  • French Americans--Societies, etc.

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Collection Inventory

 Series I.  Correspondence   (Boxes 1-5)

Series description

This series contains the earliest correspondence, and that of John Laval, the first President of the 1805 Charter. Box 1, Folders 1-5 contain letters from Laval to several merchants, some traveling south to New Orleans and other destinations. There is a series of letters between Laval and James McCoy, a book merchant, which offers an interesting look into the difficulties that early settlers faced in starting businesses and acquiring materials promised from them from the more settled eastern states. Also included is correspondence between Laval and his bank in Pottstown, Pennsylvania which gives a small indication of his financial situation. There is a series of legal correspondence over a land dispute and materials on the sale of properties and the like.

In Box 2, Folders 4-7, there is an interesting series of materials covering the making of a Medal for M. Thiers, first President of France. The members of the French Benevolent Society “subscribed” to the making of the medal by donating money and when it was finished it was presented to M. Thiers by a representative of the American consulate in France. Some subscription booklets, a book of “Homage,” news clippings and correspondence are all included.

There is a significant increase in the number of folders in Boxes 3-5. As much as possible, each folder is subject specific and the Folder list should be consulted. Much of the middle 19th Century correspondence (and, more specifically, the Civil War period) was contained in the Lettered Envelope Series III. The “General Correspondence” contained in Boxes 1 and 2 consists mainly of society notices, meeting and funeral announcements. These folders were listed as such, or “General,” except where there was a significant amount of material on the same subject. This is not the case in Boxes 3-5, and to the extent possible, there are no “General” areas contained.

Box 3 contains correspondence from the middle period of the series and the first materials in this series from the 20th Century. In 1903, the members sought to recognize the work of M. H. Pintard, President for many years of the French Benevolent Society. Folders 3 and 6 cover the portrait which was commissioned and the banquet which was held in his honor in 1912.

Estates The French Benevolent Society was a charitable organization. Some of the interesting highlights of Boxes 3-5 are the Estate materials. In Box 3, Folder 15 are the materials from the Estate of Lucy Kille, a wealthy woman who left money to several Philadelphia charities, including the French Benevolent Society. Box 4, Folder 5 contains materials concerning the estate of Alphonse Stephani, imprisoned in Attica. Stephani’s father was a wine merchant in Philadelphia, and a subscribing member of the Society. The French Benevolent Society filed a petition on his behalf in the New York State Supreme Court, and although it was denied, Stephani did not forget them, and, before a codicil was included, under certain circumstances, they were to have received income from his estate. Whenever a society member or other individual left money to the Society, the correspondence, and often a copy of the will, are included in the folder. Generally, a “lost” heir will appear, and this interesting correspondence is also included. The society always checked their authenticity before addressing these people or giving them information about the deaths. The Manuel Waldteufel estate (Box 4, Folder 25) and the Blanc folders (Box 5, Folders 6-7) contain the largest amount of such materials. The estate of Victor Archambault (Box 5, Folder 5) was contested and this folder contains a copy of the case itself. Box 4, Folders 16, and 45 and Box 5, Folders 8, 10, 11, 15-18 are also estate materials.

Box 5, Folders 19-25 all contain information about member deaths. Death announcements, condolence cards and correspondence are all included. These materials extend into the 1980s.

Robinson’s Cemetery Included in Box 5 are the materials from the sale of Robinson’s Cemetery. Robinsons’s Cemetery used to exist between Fitzwater and Bainbridge Streets, and between 9th and 10th Streets. Today, it is owned by the City and is called Palumbo Park. The folders in this series include the correspondence between Charlotte Atkins and the Society. Charlotte Atkins was the driving force behind the preservation of the Cemetery, but it had fallen into a state of disrepair. Efforts were made to collect donations from lot owners and those who had family members buried there. The French Benevolent Society owned lots in this Cemetery—it was founded as a place to bury those without means to buy expensive lots elsewhere—and many early residents of moderate means were buried here. A lot was owned by John Laval and another was acquired by them apparently to bury those helped by the Society but without family or means. There is a news clipping from 1920 showing what the Cemetery looked like. It was formally donated to Mayor Moore and the City of Philadelphia in 1922 to prevent the destruction and scattering of those buried there. The names of those buried there are in the “City Tablets” and the headstones were removed. It is an interesting little section of this series.

Box Folder

Jean Claude Laval (First President) 1809-1841 

1 1-5

Society notices and correspondence circa 1840-circa 1870 

1 6-11

General correspondence 1876-1878 

1 12-14

Various Correspondence 1872 

2 1

Society Correspondence circa 1870 

2 2

Vice Consulat of Philadelphia 1863-1903 

2 3

Correspondence regarding medal for M. Thiers 1871-1873 

2 4

Subscription booklets for Thiers Medal 1871 

2 5

News clippings regarding the Thier Medal 1874 

2 6

"Hommage" History of the Theirs Medal 1873 

2 7

Subscriptions for the Deliverance of France Femmes de France 1872 

2 8

Society condolences 1877-1882 

2 9

Paul Pohl, Jr. Memorial Window for his wife 1881-1884 

2 10

General correspondence 1885-1895 

2 11

Subscription lists Comite Franco-American 1892 

2 12

General correspondence 1890-1899 

2 13-14

General correspondence 1901 

3 1

Liasse No. 2 (Bundle No. 2) 1901-1903 

3 2

Correspondence related to the decoration and portrait of H. Pintard 1903-1911 

3 3

General correspondence 1905-1909 

3 4

French flood relief 1910 

3 5

Banquet to honor H. Pintard 1912 

3 6

M. Roberts Dripps 1917 

3 7

Relative to M Cret-- Manufacturer's Club 1919 

3 8

Legacy of John Dryburgh 1919-1921 

3 9

Judge H. Lacombe re: Mrs. P Thomas 1915 

3 10

Old Cathedral Cemetery 1923 

3 11

Germantown Dispensary Hospital re: Mme Gheysens 1924 

3 12

Mrs. James Carville 1925-1941 

3 13

General correspondence 1926 

3 14

Re: Estate of Lucy Kille 1926-1927 

3 15

Alliance Nationale Paris 1926 

3 16

Philadelphia Art Galleries and Auction Rooms 1926 

3 17

M. Passiller-Troumelen 1923 

3 18

Monges Family 1916 

3 19

Re: Madeline Jearnnert 1921 

3 20

Fatherless Children of France 1918-1924 

3 21

L. Lehmann 1921 

3 22

Percy Wilcox 1924 

3 23

F. Gonzag 1925 

3 24

Friendly Inn 1924 

3 24

Bell Telephone 1925 

3 25

M. Cret 1924 

3 26

Belgian Consulate 1923 

3 27

Pennsylvania Hospital 1920 

3 28

Relief Funds undated 

3 29

Edmond Pausser 1924-1925 

3 30

Sesqui-Centennial Committee 1924 

3 31

Condolence Antoine Bournville, William Green 1918-1922 

4 1

Liberty Loan 1918 

4 2

M. Simon 1921 

4 3

Hibberd B. Worrel and Co. 1924 

4 4

Re: Estate of Alphonse Stephani undated 

4 5

Re: F. Blanc 1924-1933 

4 6-7

Re: Mme. Pequignot 1921 

4 8

Re: Josephine Delbert 1917 

4 9

Georges Maene 1921 

4 10

Consulat of France 1922-1923 

4 11

Philadelphia Society for Organzing Charity, etc. 1919-1924 

4 12

Candidature of Governor Smith 1924 

4 13

Woodrow Wilson 1924 

4 14

Franco-American Fraternity 1923 

4 15

Re: Estate of H. Prevost 1917-1918 

4 16

J. Rigoreau 1919-1921 

4 17

Souvenir Jusserand 1919 

4 18

Various Correspondence 1924 

4 19

Welfare Federation 1920 

4 20

Re: V. Fonteneau 1920 

4 21

Adele Besson 1923 

4 22

D.G. Defrasnes 1921 

4 23

Benac Lagacy 1912 

4 24

Re: Estate of Manuel Waldtreufel 1916-1919 

4 25

La Pouponniere 1916-1920 

4 26

Transfer to M. Dehon, Treasurer 1913-1914 

4 27

Society flag 1917 

4 28

Membership dues 1927 

4 29

Annual Meeting 1927 

4 30

Consulat of France 1927 

4 31

Society condolences 1927-1928 

4 32

Re: Angela Lepiemme 1928 

4 33

Re: William Rietzell 1928 

4 34

Transfer to M. Georges Maene, Treasurer 1928 

4 35

Fidelity Trust--Sale of Liberty Bonds, Correspondence 1929 

4 36

Re: Giragos Vartanian 1929 

4 37

Re: Mr. and Mrs. Gerard Senez 1928-1929 

4 38

Reverend Rahard 1929 

4 39

Re: La Marechale Foch 1929 

4 40

Adrienne Taylor 1929 

4 41

Re: Mme Lalande 1929 

4 42

Annual meeting 1929 

4 43

Disabled Veterans of the World War 1929 

4 44

Re: Estate of Charles Penas 1930 

4 45

Meeting and subscription notices 1930-1931 

5 1

Re: Alfred Berthier 1930 

5 2

Re: Victor Legallais 1930 

5 3

Society Cases (not restricted) 1930-1931 

5 4

Re: Estate of Victor Archambault 1931 

5 5

Re: Louise Anne Augustine Sureau 1931 

5 6

Re: Mme. Oliver Auger 1930 

5 7

Re: Estate of Leonie Delbert 1931 

5 8

Re: Jules Breton 1931 

5 9

Legacy of Gladys Foulke 1934 

5 10

Lagacy of Verignon 1935 

5 11

Society Notes, Membership 1931 

5 12

Case Notes 1930 

5 13

Re: Mme. Darbier 1940-1942 

5 14

Re: Estate of H. Pintard 1948 

5 15

Re: Paul Cret 1948 

5 16

Re: Estate of Jules Kerle 1950-1952 

5 17-18

Society condolences 1929-1937 

5 19-21

Society deaths/condolences 1940-1980s 

5 22-25

Re: Dufrasne 1940 

5 26

Robinson's Cemetery 1917-1922 

5 27-29

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 Series II.  Financial records 

 Subseries a.  Properties   (Boxes 6-9)

Subseries description

During the 1930s and 1940s, much of the income that the French Benevolent Society received was return on their property investments. These Boxes contain the materials from mortgages and deeds to properties that the Society bought. The Society would buy a mortgage and would use the collected money as revenue. There is a large volume of receipts for improvements, estimates, correspondence about potential investments, etc. Certain residences generated more material than others, usually indicative of a need for extensive maintenance and improvements. The largest collections are Box 6, Folders 11-15 (631 Chester Pike which actually went through several address changes), Box 7, Folders 13-15 (526 Pine Street), and Box 7, Folders 16-17-Box 8, Folders 1-4 (3142 and 3150 North 8th Street). To keep track of their investments and also an indication of the importance of them, four chronological ledgers were kept logging receipts from 1887 through 1952. These ledgers are housed in Box 9.

Box Folder

Unmatched mortgages, deeds, insurance 1887-1940 

6 1

Clinton Rhodes, Property Investments 1923-1924 

6 2

Mortgage information 1928-1930 

6 3

Deed Somerset Street 1853 

6 4

Deed Columbia Avenue and 22nd Street 1872 

6 5

606 North 22nd Street 1902-1904 

6 6-7

1824 South 55th Street 1900-1941 

6 8-9

324 North 38th Street 1917-1919 

6 10

631 Chester Pike 1925-1941 

6 11-15

2330 North 16th Street 1931-1936 

7 1-2

901 Fox Building 1932-1936 

7 3

324 Wallace Street 1928 

7 4

1714 Wallace Street 1928 

7 5

232 North 9th Street 1928 

7 6

19th and Fairmount Avenue 1930 

7 7

1720 Wallace Street 1931 

7 8

518 Shunk Street 1931 

7 9

595 1/2 East Alcott Street 1931 

7 10

610 East Allens Lane 1931 

7 11

1620 Broad Street 1931 

7 12

526 Pine Street 1931-1937 

7 13-15

3142-3150 North 8th Street 1933-1941 

7 16-17

3142 North 8th Street 1933-1941 

8 1-2

3150 North 8th Street 1933-1941 

8 3-4

1509 Green Street 1931-1941 

8 5-7

6700 North 6th Street 1929-1942 

8 8-10

Property list circa 1947 

8 11

Real Estate--Ledger 1887-1952 

9 1-4

 Subseries b.  Treasurer's Reports   (Box 10)

Subseries description

Along with the Treasurer’s Reports in the Lettered Envelope Series III, Boxes 13 and 14), there is a complete set of Reports as generated by the society from 1836-1879. It is unclear why the collection of Treasurer Reports was separated into two series, but in the interest of keeping the original order, it was necessary to keep the Lettered Envelope Series Reports within their own series. In the Financial series, there is a bound ledger entitled “S.B.F. Archives” which contain records from 1836-57 and then a straight run of reports from 1869-1879. This continues the series found in the Lettered Envelope Series (1843-1868). There do not appear to be any Treasurer’s Reports in the collection after 1879, but there is a series of ledgers in the General Accounting series which accounts for Income/Expenses up to and including 1922. For further financial records it is necessary to look at the Annual Reports which have been separated to the Library as a periodical series.

Box Folder

Constitutions and treasurer's Reports 1807-1857 

10 1

Treasurer's Report 1869-1879 

10 2-12

 Subseries c.  General accounting   (Box 11)

Subseries description

The bulk of the material in this series was generated in the post World War I period. The Society had invested in Liberty bonds and it generated revenue through the sale of these loans and bonds after the War was over. The correspondence with the different companies (see folder list) deals mainly with the sale of individual bonds. At the end of this series in Folders 13-15, there is a series of Income/Expenses ledgers which covers the incoming and outgoing payments of the society from 1850-1922. For further financial records it is necessary to look at the Annual Reports which have been separated to the Library as a periodical series.

Box Folder

Philadelphia Bank 1804 

11 1

Auction 1896 

11 2

Fidelity Trust 1918-1925 

11 3

Federal Reserve--Liberty loan information 1918-1919 

11 4

Charles Fearon and Company 1918 

11 5

Isaac Starr, Jr. and Company 1919-1921 

11 6

Commercial Trust Company 1921 

11 7

Cassatt and Company 1920 

11 8

Pennsylvania Railroad 1923 

11 9

Thomas A. Biddle and Company 1922-1925 

11 10

Invoices 1923-1925 

11 11

Lease/insurance information 1535-39 Chestnut Street 1916-1922 

11 12

Income/expenses--Ledger 1850-1922 

11 13-15

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 Series III.  Lettered envelopes 

Folder inventories

Folder inventories for the following sections of correspondence have been placed in the collection:

"Series K" – Box 12, folders 1-6

"Series Q" – Box 14, folders 10-14

"Series R" – Box 14, folders 15-22

"Series S" – Box 15, folders 1-4

Scope and content note

Note from preliminary inventory control list: “The following items…were originally in heavy paper packets (document envelopes) and have now been opened and placed in folders. The packets…had each been given an alphabetical letter…”. To preserve original order, this series of materials was not broken down and incorporated into the series into which they appear to belong—all materials were kept in Sub Series corresponding to the letter that was given to them on the Document Envelopes by the French Benevolent Society Secretary. Below is a short description of each Sub Series. The description was made from observations and the help of the Archival Inventory made by the Society in 1903 and included in Series IV, Box 16, Folder 3.

 Subseries a.  Series "K"   (Box 12, Folders 1-6)

Subseries description

Folders 1-6 contain the numbered correspondence which relates to an inventory that is not included in the collection, or was not matched to this series of letters. It includes letters numbered 1-120, and the dates range from 1848-1869. It includes “letters of Consuls, Ministers and Mayors, etc.; letters of resignation from offices, diverse propositions, presentations of medals; letter from M. Epineuil, letter from the Pennsylvania Hospital and letter from the flag factory."

Box Folder

Original Envelope undated 

12 1

Correspondence, Letters Nos. 1-12 1848-1864 

12 2

Correspondence, Letters Nos. 13-23 1864-1866 

12 3

Correspondence, Letters Nos. 100-110 1842-1861 

12 4

Correspondence, Letters Nos. 111-116 1853-1864 

12 5

Correspondence, Letters Nos. 117-120 1864-1869 

12 6

 Subseries b.  Series "L"   (Box 12, Folders 7-8)

Subseries description

Folders 7-8 start a series of Annual Assembly--President’s reports from the years 1845-56. Included are years 1845, 1848, 1850, 1853, 1854-56. Also included was an “exemplaire”—typical example of La Gazette Francaise, a French language, newspaper which was not retained.

Box Folder

Original envelope undated 

12 7

Annual Assembly--President's Report 1845-1856 

12 8

 Subseries c.  Series "M"   (Box 12, Folders 10-13)

Subseries description

The continuation of a series of Annual Assembly reports are included in Series “M”. Folders 10-13 contain years 1857-1861, and the “discourse of M. A. Vaillant”.

Box Folder

Original envelope undated 

12 9

Annual Assembly--President's Report 1857-1861 

12 10-13

 Subseries d.  Series "N"   (Box 13, Folders 1-7)

Subseries description

The “N” series continues the series of Annual Assembly reports and includes the years 1862-1868.

Box Folder

Original envelope undated 

13 1

Annual Assembly Reports--President's Reports 1862-1868 

13 2-7

 Subseries e.  Series "O"   (Box 13, Folders 8-20)

Subseries description

The series of Treasurer’s reports which is continued in the Financial Record Series II (Box 10) is included here. Series “O” contains Reports from the years 1843- 1859.

Box Folder

Original envelope undated 

13 8

Treasurer's Reports 1843-1859 

13 9-20

 Subseries f.  Series "P"   (Box 14, Folders 1-9)

Series description

The “P” series continues the series of Treasurer’s Reports and includes the years 1860-1867.

Box Folder

Original envelope undated 

14 1

Treasurer's Report 1860-1867 

14 2-9

 Subseries g.  Series "Q"   (Box 14, Folders 10-14)

Subseries description

This is a series of General Correspondence and includes Folders 10-14. According to the S.B.F. 1903 inventory, Series “Q” contains copies of resolutions of the Administrative Bureau, letters of condolence, letters of thanks, letters of M. Frenaye relative to the history of M. Lafour which was related at a Society Ball, letters to Emperor Napoleon and his Ministers.

Box Folder

Original envelope undated 

14 10

Correspondence 1847-1868 

14 11-14

 Subseries h.  Series "R"   (Box 14, Folders 15-22)

Subseries description

The “R” series is described as “letters of the members of the Society.” Folders 15-22 include correspondence from 1848-68.

Box Folder

Original envelope undated 

14 15

Society Correspondence 1848-1868 

14 16-22

 Subseries i.  Series "S"   (Box 15, Folders 1-4)

Subseries description

Folders 1-4 include correspondence between different regional French Benevolent Societies, including Baltimore, New York City, Chicago, Dubuque and Cincinnati.

Box Folder

Original envelope undated 

15 1

New York French Benevolent Society 1856-1869 

15 2

Regional Benevolent Societies 1856-1869 

15 3

Baltimore French Benevolent Society 1856-1869 

15 4

 Subseries j.  Series "T"   (Box 15, Folders 5-10)

Subseries description

This is an interesting series as it includes election results and materials from the election of the Board Members in the years 1847-68. It includes attendance records, meeting notices, funeral notices and administrative notices.

Box Folder

Original envelope undated 

15 5

Administrative notices 1847-1868 

15 6

Meeting notices 1841-1850 

15 7

Funeral notices 1847-1868 

15 8

Attendance records 1851-1857 

15 9

Bureau election materials 1847-1868 

15 10

 Subseries k.  Series "U"   (Box 15, Folders 11-16)

Subseries description

Again, the election tallies and materials contained in Series V are of interest as far as Board Administration is concerned. Administrative correspondence is also included in this series.

Box Folder

Original envelope undated 

15 11

Administrative correspondence 1862-1867 

15 12-13

Election materials 1849 

15 14

Election tallies 1851-1867 

15 15-16

 Subseries l.  Series "V"   (Box 15, Folders 17-21)

Subseries description

Series “V” contains information about the Society Balls held in 1864-66 (see Series 5 for more Ball materials). It also contains printed Treasurer reports from the years 1847-56. There are also annual reports from 1847-56 included in this series.

Box Folder

Original envelope undated 

15 17

Ball materials 1864-1866 

15 18-19

Monthly treasurer reports 1868 

15 20

Annual reports 1847-1856 

15 21

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 Series IV.  Administration 

 Subseries a. General history and constitutions   (Box 16; Box 17, Folders 1-4)

Subseries description

The first three folders in this Sub Series conatin bound volumes of 1)Original Documents and a Scrapbook of Society Happenings from 1862-1960, 2) a History of the Society from 1835-1875, and 3) an Inventory of the Society Archives which was taken in 1903. These three volumes are rich with information concerning the Society during its early and middle years and to a lesser extent from the later years. The inventory is very useful in placing items which have been inadvertently taken out of their original order or context, and the scapbook can support correspondence found elsewhere in the collection.

Folder 4 contains news clippings and newspaper articles, collected from the years 1850-1900 but not placed in any scrapbook.

Folder 5-8 and the continuation of the series in Box 17, folders 1-4 contain Constitutions and revisions of constitutions dating from 1804-1891. Most notable, of course, is the original 1804 constitution located in Box 16, Folder 5.

Box Folder

Original documents and scrapbook 1862-1960 

16 1

Society history 1835-1875 

16 2

Inventory of society archives 1903 

16 3

News clippings and newspapers 1850-1900 

16 4

Constitution 1804, undated 

16 5-6

Constitutions 1842-1849 

16 7

Constitution 1862 

16 8

Constitutions 1862 

17 1

Revision of society constitution 1890 

17 2

Constitution 1891 

17 3

Sample constitutions 1855-1883 

17 4

 Subseries b.  Annual reports   (Box 17, Folders 5-9)

Subseries description

A complete series of Annual reports, both hard bound and soft bound have been separated from this section to the Library. What is contained in this series are paper copies of these reports and notes for the printing of them.

Folders 5-8 contain a full series of Annual Reports gathered from 1830-1856. It also has an annotated version of the 1850 Annual Report. There are notes for the Annual Reports printed between 1905 and 1915 and ten years (1858-68) of Annual Reports from the New York French Benevolent Society.

Box Folder

Annual reports 1830-1856 

17 5

Annual reports, annotated 1850 

17 6

Annual reports, notes 1905-1915 

17 7-8

Annual reports, New York City society 1858-1868 

17 9

 Subseries c.  Membership information   (Boxes 18-20)

Subseries description

Membership information is mostly contained in the form of Ledgers. The Society kept careful ledgers, due to the fact that membership was subscription based. The ledgers keep track of names and amounts paid throughout the years. The five ledgers in Box 18 conatin membership information between 1835 and 1940, complete. There are two odd sized membership ledgers in Box 19 which duplicate information found in the regularly bound volumes-- they cover the dates 1835-1874. A large oversized volume covering 1861-78 completes the series in Box 20. It is unclear why so much of the membership data is duplicated.

Box Folder

Membership ledger undated, 1835-1940 

18 1-5

Membership ledger, odd sized 1835-1874 

19 1-2

Membership ledger, oversized 1861-1878 

20 1

 Subseries d.  Meeting minutes   (Boxes 21-23)

Subseries description

Like the Membership information, the meeting minutes were kept in ledgers. Boxes 21-23 conatin a complete series of Society minutes from 1830-1942. Because it is odd sized, the meeting minutes from years 1884-98 are housed out of order in Box 23. This is noted on the Folder Inventory.

Box Folder

Meeting minutes, large volume 1830-1884 

21 1-3

Meeting minutes, large volume 1898-1942 

22 1-3

Meeting minutes, large volume 1884-1898 

23 1

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 Series V.  Fundraising events 

 Subseries a.  Annual French Society Ball   (Box 24, Folders 1-13)

Subseries description

To raise funds, from the years 1847-1861, The French Benevolent Society hosted an Annual Ball at the Music Fund Hall. It became one of the most anticipated events of each season, coming in late January or early February, breaking up the long Philadelphia winters. Information pertaining to each ball was housed in a separate envelope, with the exception of the fourth ball in 1850, whose envelope was lost or misplaced. The other 13 balls are arranged chronologically in Folder 1-13. Contained in these folders is largely correspondence related to the organization of the Balls--bills from local caterers; invoices from print shops for the printing of dance cards and invitations; advertising fees from the local English and French newspapers. Also included is information on ticket sales and totals, including revenue earned from each ball. The total funds raised is generally written on the original envelope, all of which have been retained or photocopied and included in the corresponding folder.

Box Folder

1st Ball 1847 

24 1

2nd Ball 1848 

24 2

3rd Ball 1849 

24 3

5th Ball 1851 

24 4

6th Ball 1852 

24 6

7th Ball 1854 

24 6

8th Ball 1855 

24 7

9th Ball 1856 

24 8

10th Ball 1857 

24 9

11th Ball 1858 

24 10

12th Ball 1858 

24 11

13th Ball 1860 

24 12

14th Ball 1861 

24 13

 Subseries b.  Other events   (Box 24, Folders 14-15)

Subseries description

Included in Folders 14 and 15 are materials from the Society's two Musical Concerts, both held at the Musical Fund Hall. These Concerts seem to have been an attempt to take the place of the Annual Ball (perhaps due to the Civil War) during 1862 and 1863, and appear to have been well attended. Folder 16 contains materials generated from a Theatre Matinee in 1871. The was apparently a controversial event because the actress donated the proceeds of the show to the French Benevolent Society without the consent of the Theatre owner himself. The news editorials concerning the event are included.

Box Folder

Music Fund Hall Concert 1862 

24 14

2nd Music Fund Hall Concert 1863 

24 15

Theatre Matinee 1871 

24 16

 Subseries c.  Memorabilia   (Box 24, Folders 17-19)

Subseries description

Folder 17 includes subscription booklets from the 13th-15th Ball and also for the two concerts. Folders 18 and 19 are the highlight of the series--two scrapbooks from the Balls and Concerts, including examples of the dance cards, invitations, and newspaper clippings concerning the events. It is a wonderful documentation of this Society tradition.

Box Folder

Subscription books for 13th-15th Ball, concerts 1860-1863 

24 17

Scrapbook 1847-1870 

24 18-19

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 Series VI.  Case files 

Series description

Conatined in Boxes 25 and 26 are ledgers documenting those the Society helped. The names and amounts are included from the years 1874-1913. These ledgers can be used to ascertain whether or not a person was helped by the Society.

Box 27, Folders 1-14 contain the correspondence from the Fatherless Children of France, French children who were adopted by French Benevolent Society, through the Franco-American Fraternity, because they had lost their father, and in some cases both parents, during the first World War. Comprising the correspondence are letters to the society from the children and their mothers, the reports from the field workers who kept case notes on these children, and notes as to which member of the society was responsible for the subscription of the child. The materail dates from 1917-1923; some children have larger files than others due to the length of time the society supported them.

Box 27, Folders 15-19, and Box 28 contain the folders of general society cases. People of French descent in need could petition the society for aid, but most often, the members of the society would recommend a person and the case would be examined. Also popular was petitioning the Society for help in finding employment or for use as a refernce when traveling to a new city. This correspondence is included in each person or family's folder. The folder list and ledgers should be checked to identify who was helped, and the notes written on the original correspondence for the action taken in each case.

Box Folder

List helped ledger 1874-1898 

25 1-2

List helped ledger 1898-1913 

26 1-2

Correspondence circa 1919 

27 1

Georges Duprez 1917 

27 2

Marie Lombard 1919-1921 

27 3

Marie-Louise Biolley 1919-1921 

27 4

Blanc Marius 1917-1918 

27 5

Marie-Louise Binvignat 1917-1919 

27 6

Emile Fay 1921 

27 7

Balmat children 1921 

27 8

Camille and Lea Atrux 1918-1922 

27 9

Jeanne Curtenaz 1918 

27 10

Louis Curtenaz 1919-1921 

27 11

Marie and Alice Baud 1917-1922 

27 12

Francis Aret 1919 

27 13

Madeleine Petiteau Sulileau 1922-1923 

27 14

Poirier 1832 

27 15

Jean LaFore--Ex President 1919-1925 

27 16

Mlle Petitjean 1923-1924 

27 17

Wives of French servicemen--lists, etc. 1914 

27 18

Jeanna Gheysens 1920-1924 

27 19

Paul Dubois 1914-1915 

28 1-3

Augusta Douay 1919-1924 

28 4

Ernest Menet 1919 

28 5

Camille Demartelaere 1914 

28 6

Kassin 1925 

28 7

Angelica Carriere 1921-1931 

28 8-10

Mlle Pardon 1924 

28 11

William and Dora Treyer 1925 

28 12

Mme Marteau undated 

28 13

Mme Lafaye 1914 

28 14

Jean Roussel 1923 

28 15

Augusta Gaillaux 1925 

28 16

Barbara Bastian 1915 

28 17

Marie Grieumaud 1915 

28 18

Mme Bruder 1923 

28 19

Joseph Duval 1924 

28 20

Mme Oliver Auger 1922 

28 21

Renee Russier 1913 

28 22

Camille Therien 1925 

28 23

Edmond Delamotte 1899 

28 24

Francois Dubois 1915 

28 25

Victor Eckhart 1921 

28 26

Henrietta Jones 1941 

28 27

Mme Gurley 1939 

28 28

Mme Mouilleseaux 1937 

28 29

Mlle Ouvard 1929-1930 

28 30

Jean Baptiste Pycke 1941 

28 31

Henri Overkamp 1924 

28 32

Jean Guerre a.k.a. Jean Victor Pierrat 1925 

28 33

Auguste Bourbon 1924 

28 34

Alexis Marie Tournellec 1915 

28 35

George Henri LaLande 1907 

28 36

Alfred Dupuis 1912 

28 37

Georges Fournier 1909 

28 38

Smaller cases 1918-1940 

28 39

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 Series VII.  Printed and other ephemera 

Subseries description

Items in this series were kept in this Box when their use was questionable or their context unclear, but not to an extent that separating the item to the Library, Museum or to a Photo collection seemed appropriate. See collection folder for a list of items included.


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