Hand family papers

Collection 4189

1792-1795, 1819-1958, undated
(1.2 Linear feet ; 3 boxes, 1 volume)

Summary Information

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Hand family papers
1792-1795, 1819-1958, undated
1.2 Linear feet ; 3 boxes, 1 volume
Finding aid prepared by Randi M. Kamine.

Preferred citation

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Hand family papers (Collection 4189), Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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The Hand family made their home in Philadelphia. The collection gives little information about when or how this particular branch of the Hand family came to America (Hand is a common name and there are several disparate families with that surname), although there is strong indication that some of the family originally came from Sweden (see Box 1, folder 8). Documents show that lawyers and merchants were well represented. Father and sons were part owners of the ship "Tamerlane," which carried goods between Philadelphia and New Orleans, and Baltimore and San Francisco.

The correspondence in this collection is processed in chronological order dating from 1831 to 1951. Letters to and from family members show close family ties (with the possible exception of James and Charles Hand who correspond about a lengthy argument regarding money). Several persons figure predominately in the correspondence: Matthias Hand, Curtis Hand, Elizabeth Hand, and Thomas Hand. Most letters were written from Philadelphia, with a few originating from Cape May and Baltimore.

There are also several folders of receipts (1819-1894). Many are paid receipts for tuition for the educating of the Hand children. These receipts and others for hats, clothes, etc. indicate a solid financial standing of the family.

Included is a 1792-1795 court docket belonging to John Hand (Volume 1), several photographs, slippings, legal papers, and miscellaneous other items.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 Historical Society of Pennsylvania ; 2022.

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107

Access restrictions

Collection is open for research.


Gift of Eleanor Bird Light, 1981.

Accession number 81.07.

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Related Materials

Related materials

At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

Hand family papers, 1823-1833 (Collection 1928)

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Controlled Access Headings

Family Name(s)

  • Bonsall.
  • Kenney.
  • Martin.


  • Photographs.

Personal Name(s)

  • Hand, John.
  • Light, Eleanor Bird (Mrs. William U.)


  • Court records--Pennsylvania--18th century
  • Family life--Personal correspondence--19th century.
  • Genealogy.
  • Social life and customs--New Jersey--19th century.
  • Social life and customs--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (Pa.)--19th century.
  • Tamerlane (Ship).

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Correspondence and receipts 1813-1951, undated 

Box inventory

Box 1, Folder 1: Correspondence. 1831-1835. An array of documents that contains family letters and poems. Correspondence to and from or referencing Matthias Hand, Elizabeth C. Hand, Curtis Hand, Calib Hand, and Thomas Hand.

Box 1, Folder 2: Correspondence. 1837-1838. Letters from Caleb Hand to Matthias Hand, to Matthias from Thomas.

Box 1, Folder 3: Correspondence. 1840. Poem, sympathy note for the loss of Caleb Hand’s son from “fever.”

Box 1, Folder 4: Correspondence. 1841-1842. Letter written from Washington, DC by a tourist visiting there. Certification that Matthias K. Hand is a member of the United States Fire Company.

Box 1, Folder 5: Correspondence. 1851-1854; 1860-1867. Inventory of furniture at 622 Wood Street, 1859. Justice C. Hand invited to Meeting of Citizens to discuss “disturbed state of the country,” December 24, 1860. Also, correspondence concerning an adventure in California in which Charles Hand asks his brother James for large sums of money to continue his venture.

Box 1, Folder 6: Correspondence. 1871-1873; 1877-1879. Western Union Telegraph from an accountant of Charles Hand’s asking for fifty Pounds in Charles’ name. This request was declined by James Hand, who said Charles is “not worthy of confidence.” Other correspondence among siblings.

Box 1, Folder 7: Correspondence. 1881-1889. A sympathy letter. James Hand’s son, Fred, had died (1881). Correspondence from Colorado and New Orleans.

Box 1, Folder 8: Correspondence. 1922-1951. In 1922 there was an interest in exploring the extended branch of the Hand family. Letters to and from Anita Hand indicates that she bought an Associate Membership to the Swedish Colonial Society at 1300 Locust Street (where HSP now stands), in 1922. Men only invited for full membership.

Box 1, Folder 9: Correspondence. Undated. Poems, speeches and invitations.

Box 1, Folder 10: Receipts. 1819-1829.Tutuion paid for various Hand children.

Box 1, Folder 11: Receipts. 1830-1839. Business receipts, University of Pennsylvania – Grammar School tuition receipts for Mathias Hand; other tuition bills. Receipts for hats, clothes. Cashier checks drawn from Bank of New York. Charleston Hotel bill.

Box 1, Folder 12: 1840-1884. Hotel bills from Charleston, S.C. and Augusta, Ga. Mathias Hand membership dues for Christ Church, Philadelphia. Receipts for clothes bought. Membership, Philadelphia Cricket Club.

Box 1, Folder 13: Undated receipts.

1 1-13

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Ship "Tamerlane" documents, legal papers, miscellaneous 1827-1875, 1958, undated 

Box inventory

Box 2, Folder 1: 1851-1875. Documents concerning the ship “Tamerlane.” Detailed costs for shipping through Souder and Adams, Shipping and Commission Merchants in Philadelphia. Telegrams between Henry and James Hand. There is a settlement bill from 1869 that divides cost of shipping among James C. Hand (father), Henry J. Hand (son) and Edward L. Hand (son).

Box 2, Folder 2: 1877- 1883. Bills of Fare, Philadelphia Savings Fund. Elaborate menus charged to the Philadelphia Savings Fund.

Box 2, Folder 3: 1856. Plan of the Monument Cemetery of Philadelphia.

Box 2, Folder 4: 1827, 1844, 1852. Three deeds; among them a deed for Wood Street in Spring Garden to James C. Hand (1852).

Box 2, Folder 5: 1852, 1884, 1958. Agreements of sale pertaining to a Wood Street property. Will of James C. Hand, among two other wills.

Box 2, Folder 6: 1840. Diary, author unknown. Sketch book, no date or author.

2 1-6

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Photographs, genealogy, clippings, miscellaneous 1830-1957, undated 

Box inventory

Box 3, Folder 1: Photograph, George Martin, undated.

Box 3, Folder 2: Volume, Bonsall Genealogy. Various letters and newspaper articles were placed in the book. Extended relation to Hand Family.

Box 3, Folder 3: Martin and Reed Genealogies. Extended relation to Hand family. Application to “Children of the American Revolution,” applied by Anita Marin Hand, daughter of Henry Joseph Hand.

Box 3, Folder 4: 1830-1957, and undated. Miscellaneous.

Box 3, Folder 5: Newspaper, “The Tattler,” 1841; Broadside, PA Gazette, 1830.

Box 3, Folder 6: circa 1834, 1930, undated. Newspaper clippings, Germantown. Reported deaths, Martin and Rivinus families. One clipping of note: “Missing Heir Found in Virginia.” The young man ran away and was found seven weeks later working as an electrical appliance salesman. Sydney Martin was the heir to two Philadelphia fortunes.

Box 3, Folder 7: Unidentified plan of neighborhood plot. Undated.

Box 3, Folder 8: 1881. Booklet. William Penn plan of Philadelphia.

Box 3, Folder 9: Sample of a native cloth from Sandwich Islands.

Box 3, Folder 10: Address book. Undated.

Box 3, Folders 11-12: Four envelopes of family photographs. Includes extended families: Bonsall, Kenney, Martin and others.

3 1-12

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John Hand court docket 1792-1795 


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