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Bosbyshell Family Scrapbooks

Identifier: BOS

Scope and Contents

The two volumes comprising the Bosbyshell family scrapbooks colorfully illustrate business, industry, and graphic design of the 1870s. The scrapbook belonging to John Albert Bosbyshell commemorates the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Packed with approximately 500 advertising cards, the scrapbook makes evident the Centennial's celebration not only of the country's 100th year of independence, but it's developing industrial prowess on the world stage. On these cards that were distributed as souvenirs to visitors, merchants and manufacturers vividly display their wares and machinery, from fine shoes, toilet soaps and mantel clocks to threshing machines and double oven ranges. Many of the cards show detailed illustrations of merchandise, store fronts or factories; others carefully describe the wares in words alone, relying on multiple styles and sizes of typeface for design. While the few folded pieces are mounted to allow opening, almost all the cards are pasted to the page so that the verso cannot be accessed. The front and back covers also are decorated each with a colorful advertisement cut out in a large circle. Stenciled around the front cover are the words "Centennial Album 1876." On the back cover is "J. Albert Bosbyshell." While the few folded pieces are mounted to allow opening, almost all the cards are pasted to the page so that the verso cannot be accessed. Since John Albert would have been six years old at the time of the Centennial, perhaps the carefully laid-out scrapbook was assembled by an adult. That is no doubt the case of the second scrapbook, which has the word "GATHERINGS" printed across its decorative leather cover. As inscribed on the inside front page, the scrapbook was given to "James Rex Bosbyshell-- from his Mother. Christmas 1879." This book is also filled with richly-colored graphic images, all thoughtfully placed on the pages. While many of the items are advertising cards, all of which appear to pertain to Philadelphia businesses and stores, a number of small cut-out figures, flowers, animals and other decorative images are placed between the cards. Other pieces carry words of advice or love rather than an advertising message. Some images have no text, filling the page with landscape scenes or floral still lifes. There are also cards with images of the exhibition buildings at the Philadelphia Centennial as well as from the Paris Exposition of 1878.


  • 1876-1879


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Bosbyshell Family Scrapbooks are the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.

Biographical / Historical

John Albert and James Rex Bosbyshell were brothers. Born in 1870, John was not yet 33 years old when he died. Their uncle was Oliver Christian Bosbyshell, who served as supervisor of the United States Mint in Philadelphia, 1889-1893. According to one biographical source, he also had the earlier distinction of being the first Union soldier injured by the enemy at the onset of the war. As Bosbyshell was marching through Baltimore on April 18, 1861, a Southern sympathizer threw a brick, striking the young private in the head.


1.25 linear feet


The two volumes comprise the Bosbyshell family scrapbooks, which colorfully illustrate business, industry, and graphic design of the 1870s.

Custodial History

Gift of William A. Bosbyshell, October 2007.


Guide to the Bosbyshell Family Scrapbooks
Bertha Adams
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Conservation housing supported by Elizabeth (Lisa) Ray McLean in 2018

Repository Details

Part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives Repository

Philadelphia Museum of Art
PO Box 7646
Philadelphia PA 19101-7646 United States