The series “I. Museum Letter books” contains Dalton Dorr’s correspondence, arranged in alphabetical order. The incoming correspondence, mainly directed to Dorr, was originally kept in the Museum’s Letter Books; the outgoing correspondence remains in the Letter Press Books. Indices exist for each book in this series. The Letter Books, dated February 1876 to December 1901, contained tissue-paper copies of outgoing Museum correspondence. The outgoing letters were dampened and pressed into a book of tissue-paper leaves, which transferred an ink copy onto that page. The inks used were very stable, as they needed to withstand the transfer process and yet retain sufficient ink on the outgoing letter. Not all of the outgoing correspondence was copied; routine answers to queries were not usually copied in this manner. The first commercial typewriter was publicly introduced at the Centennial Exposition and carbon paper came into popular usage around 1901. Typewritten letters on carbon paper replaced the Letter Press books in the Museum’s records.
The subseries “Ia. Incoming” makes up the bulk of this collection and it dates from 1876 to 1904. These letters were originally compiled into sixteen bound volumes. Documents were numbered, usually in the upper right corner, with red ink. These numbers correspond to those found in the indices. Since the letters varied widely in size and format, they were not necessarily arranged and numbered in chronological order. This accounts for some of the sequential inconsistencies in the date ranges of the indices. Each volume’s index was removed and filed with its associated correspondence when the books were dismantled. Folder titles were assigned date ranges by a previous record keeper, but these indicate a bulk range rather than the exact range contained within. This subseries includes letters of William Platt Pepper and William W. Justice. Justice was Managing Director of the Museum from 1879 to 1880, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees. A large portion of the correspondence from the year 1876 regards acquisitions and donations of collections from exhibitors at the Centennial. Many letters were addressed to William Platt Pepper, Museum Director and Coleman Sellers, Museum President. Notable correspondents include Samuel G. Dixon and E. D. Cope of the Academy of Natural Sciences and Robert M. Lamborn, the Latin American art collector. An exchange with Lamborn concerns the presentation of his collection within the Museum in an art historical context rather than Lamborn’s original anthropological perspective.
The subseries “Ib. Outgoing” contains Dorr’s outgoing correspondence and dates from 1876 to 1901; 1901 was the year of his death. These letters were originally bound in four volumes, numbered 1 to 4. Volumes 1 to 3 are handwritten letter press copy books, and Volume 4 also contains typewritten carbon copies of letters. The copy books were created by Philadelphia stationer Wm. F. Murphy’s Sons with integral indices. These remain bound in the volumes and have been completed with the names of recipients along with corresponding page numbers. Many of the recipients were donors or potential donors and other museum administrators, such as William Platt Pepper. This correspondence regards specific objects in the Museum’s collection, facilities and administration of Memorial Hall as well as the School of Industrial Art, which had moved to its location on Broad and Pine Streets during Dorr’s tenure.
All letters in Series “II. Separated correspondence” were removed from the original bound volume they were once adhered to, and no index exists. This series dates from 1893 to 1901.
Subseries “IIa. Edwin Atlee Barber” dates from 1893 to 1901 and consists of Barber’s correspondence with Dorr while Barber was the Honorary Curator of Pottery; a numbering system was added to Barber’s letters in 1987 and they are arranged chronologically. For more information on Barber, researchers should consult the Edwin Atlee Barber Records.
Subseries “IIb. William Platt Pepper” contains Pepper’s correspondence with Dorr; the letters date from 1893 to 1901 and are arranged chronologically. Pepper, a lawyer, was Vice President of the Corporation and Managing Director of the Museum from 1876 to 1878, President from 1882 to 1897, and “Director” and Vice President from 1898 to 1907. After Pepper’s death in 1907, the title of the Chief Officer of the Museum was changed from Curator to Director. Pepper’s letters deal with acquisitions, including the Bloomfield Moore Collection, the collections, exhibitions, the staff, Board meetings, and Museum Committee meetings, and personal matters. He conducted Museum business from his law office (most of the letters are on stationery indicating that he was the Executor of the Estate of Henry Seybert) or from his home at 1730 Chestnut Street.