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General Note


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Section I, Series 2. Financial and Real Estate Records, 1724-1973.

Funding Note

The processing of this collection was made possible through a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).


The financial records of the Pennsylvania Hospital have been housed in the Pine Building since its completion, resulting in a remarkably complete set of records, which reflect the development of the Hospital from 1751 until approximately 1920, when there appear to have been changes in record-keeping procedures and shifts in responsibilities of key hospital personnel.

History of Pennsylvania Hospital Finances

The Pennsylvania Hospital was founded in 1751 by Dr. Thomas Bond and Benjamin Franklin. Chartered by the Colonial Government, the Pennsylvania Hospital has the distinction of being the first hospital in America to care for the sick poor. The original building on Eighth and Pine Streets, completed in 1755, was expanded over the years, as demand for a larger facility grew.

The vitality of every charitable organization depends upon securing financial support from the government and private individuals. This was equally true in 1751, when Benjamin Franklin, at the request of Thomas Bond, presented a petition to the Pennsylvania Assembly that proposed a hospital “to care for the sick poor of the Province and for the reception and care of lunaticks.” Franklin convinced the Assembly to support the project by asserting that prominent supporters of the Hospital would raise 2,000 pounds from private citizens, if the Assembly would match the funds raised. Anticipating that Franklin would not be able to raise the required money, the Assembly approved the plan. Hospital supporters had preemptively gathered pledges in excess of the amount needed, and the bill creating funds for a hospital was signed into law on May 11, 1751. The money received from the Assembly was kept in a capital stock fund, which was to be maintained and grown through investments in property and shares in companies.

To facilitate fundraising and to educate the public about the mission of Pennsylvania Hospital, Franklin wrote and published a pamphlet entitled Some Account of Pennsylvania Hospital in 1754. This publication served as an annual report to contributors, as well as a request for new supporters. Included in the report was an appeal for contributions, promising that with the contribution of ten pounds or more, the individual would become eligible to vote in the election of the Managers and Treasurer of the Hospital. In 1761, another financially vulnerable period, this book was updated and reprinted to appeal, once again, to the public’s generosity.

In addition to official grants from the Assembly and donations from the Contributors, the Managers raised funds for the Hospital using charity boxes that were placed around the Hospital and in individuals’ homes. Financial assistance of various types enhanced the Hospital’s ability to serve the community; some wealthy patrons donated stock in local companies that would yield benefits over a long period of time, others granted the Hospital land rights, which made it possible to collect rents from tenants and expand the Hospital’s grounds. The Penn family donated much of the lot upon which the Pennsylvania Hospital still stands.

Donors of modest means often gave money to endow a bed in honor of a loved one who was treated at the Pennsylvania Hospital. Many of the plaques made to commemorate the donations are still on display in the Hospital today. Other methods of raising funds for operating expenses included requiring gratuities from visitors who came to see the patients from the insane ward as they walked the Hospital grounds, charging a small admission fee to see Benjamin West’s painting “Christ Healing the Sick in the Temple,” and collecting entry fees from charity concerts and lectures throughout the city. Several working farms were also operated by the Hospital, generating funds through sales of agricultural products while also supplying milk and produce for hospital use.

Pennsylvania Hospital was favored by many English donors affiliated with the Society of Friends, including John Fothergill, David Barclay, and Thomas Hyam. Because of the assistance of these supporters, the Hospital became the beneficiary of monies held in the London Land Company. Between 1760 and 1787, Fothergill, Franklin, and David Barclay acted as the Hospital’s agents in London and negotiated the transfer of funds to the newly formed Pennsylvania Land Company. This money could not have come at a more crucial time since the Hospital’s capital stock was severely depleted by the devaluation of Continental currency and the use of Hospital resources to care for soldiers that the Contributors to Pennsylvania Hospital borrowed money on their personal credit to keep the Hospital operating. Over one half of the hospital’s capital stock was decimated when the Hospital was forced to accept repayment of some loans in the nearly worthless Continental currency.

Though this was by no means the last financially vulnerable period in the Hospital’s history, by the nineteenth century, Pennsylvania Hospital’s mission was more widely known and supported. Bequests became crucial in the maintenance of the capital stock fund, and the cultivation of donors was a constant concern, as it continues to be today. Large donations provided the base funds for renovations to hospital facilities and the construction of new buildings, allowing Pennsylvania Hospital to continue to operate in a modern environment.

Time Line

1751—A charter is granted by the Pennsylvania legislature to establish a hospital to care for the sick-poor and insane.

1752—The Pennsylvania Assembly grants the Hospital managers 2,000 pounds to help establish the new hospital. Pennsylvania Hospital begins operations from a temporary location on High Street.

1754— The Managers purchase a plot of ground between Eighth and Ninth Streets where they would begin construction of a permanent home for the hospital.

1756—Charles Norris acts as Treasurer for the Pennsylvania Hospital.

1756—The first patients were admitted to the Hospital’s new home on Eighth Street.

1756-1760—Samuel Rhoads is elected Treasurer; Elizabeth Gardiner is Matron of the Pennsylvania Hospital.

1760-1768—Hugh Roberts serves as Hospital Treasurer.

1760-1767—George Weed is Steward of the Pennsylvania Hospital; Weed’s wife Esther serves as Matron.

June 7, 1760—a letter from Thomas Hyam informs the Managers that an act of Parliament had passed, in which was inserted a clause granting any unclaimed money from the Pennsylvania Land Company in London remaining after June 24, 1770 to the Pennsylvania Hospital.

1762—The Pennsylvania Assembly grants the Hospital 3,000 pounds to replenish Capital Stock.

1767—Thomas and Richard Penn donate the remaining land on the block between Eighth & Ninth and Spruce and Pine Streets, making this entire area part of the Hospital property.

1767-1769—Mary Ball serves as Matron.

1768-1769—Samuel Preston Moore is Treasurer.

1769—Thomas and Richard Penn donate another plot of ground south of Ninth & Spruce Streets.

1769-1772—Thomas Wharton is Hospital Treasurer, overseeing financial transactions related to the Pennsylvania Land Company in London; Sarah Harlan serves as the Hospital’s Matron.

1772-1773—Joseph King serves as Treasurer.

1773-1776—John Saxton is Steward.

1773-1780—Joseph Hillborn is elected Treasurer.

1776-1777—wounded Continental and British soldiers are treated at the Pennsylvania Hospital, depleting the funds and supplies of the Hospital.

1776-1780—John Story is Steward.

1777-1784—devaluation of Continental currency; the Hospital’s capital stock is depleted, and the income of the Hospital severely limited.

1778—evacuation of Philadelphia by the British.

1780—the Pennsylvania Legislature grants Pennsylvania Hospital Managers 10,000 in Continental money to supplement the Hospital income after many British soldiers received services in the Hospital, at a great expense to the organization and the province.

1780-1795—Joseph Henszey is Hospital Steward; his wife serves as Matron.

1780-1799—Mordecai Lewis is Hospital Treasurer.

1782—Admiralty Acts assign unclaimed prize money to the Hospital (approx. 2,300 pounds).

1787—Remaining money from the Pennsylvania Land Company in London is transferred to the Managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital.

1793—Pennsylvania Hospital is granted arrears due the Loan Office—Managers become trustees of the Loan Office—$26,666 for completion of the West and Center buildings of the Hospital. The same act allots unclaimed dividends of bankrupts’ estates to the Hospital.

1796—West wing of hospital completed.

1796-1803—Francis Higgins is appointed Steward; his wife Hannah is Matron.

1799-1826—Joseph S. Lewis is elected Treasurer.

1804—Center wing of hospital completed; opening of the surgical amphitheatre.

1804-1808—William Johnson serves as Steward, his wife is Matron.

1808-1812—Francis and Hannah Higgins are reappointed as Steward and Matron.

1813-1826—Samuel Mason and his wife serve as Steward and Matron of the Hospital.

1826-1830—Isaac and Ann Bonsall are Steward and Matron.

1826-1841—Samuel N. Lewis serves as Treasurer.

1830-1849—Allen Clapp serves as Hospital Steward.

1841—The Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane opens in West Philadelphia to accommodate the large number of insane patients who were formerly treated at the Eighth Street Hospital.

1841-49—William G. Malin becomes Steward of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane in West Philadelphia.

1849-1883—William G. Malin returns to the Pennsylvania Hospital to act as Steward.

1841-1881—John T. Lewis is Hospital Treasurer.

1856—The Humane Society ceases operation, and money is transferred to the Hospital accounts; a memorial is presented to the Legislature, proposing the allowance for larger contributions and bequests to the Hospital.

1859—The second section of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane is completed; the original building becomes the department for females, the new building becomes the department for males.

1881-1906—Henry Haines serves as Treasurer.

1883-1886—Richard Cadbury is Steward.

1886-1891—Benjamin Hoopes serves as the Hospital’s Steward.

1891-1895—Jonathan G. Williams is appointed Steward.

1892—Work begins on the modern hospital at Eighth Street.

1896-1920—Daniel D. Test is Hospital Steward.

1906—Provident Life & Trust Co. acts as Treasurer until a replacement for Henry Haines can be found.

1906-1920s— Edward Y. Hartshorne is elected Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Hospital.


Scope and Content of the Financial and Real Estate Records

Due to the large span of time covered in these records, there are considerable variations in record-keeping practices between Treasurers. When they were elected, the Treasurers were bound to a contract stating that they would render reports on the state of Hospital accounts on a periodic basis to the Board of Managers. These reports included summaries of expenditures by the Steward, Matron, and Treasurer, as well as income generated by ground rents, capital stock, contributions, patient board, and other miscellaneous sources. The result of this reporting practice is that there are fairly complete records of the financial dealings of the Hospital until 1920, when some procedural change impacted record keeping, producing a sizable gap in the financial documents. Based on limited information from the Board of Managers’ minutes, it seems likely that much of the record-keeping responsibility fell away from the Steward and was delegated to an assistant.

Prior to 1920, the accounting practices of the Hospital were administered by the Treasurer and a Steward/Superintendent. The Steward and/or Matron (who was often the Steward’s wife) were responsible for the day-to-day spending of the Hospital, including the purchase of food, clothing for patients, medicine, bedding, furniture, hay for livestock, maintenance of houses and buildings owned by the Hospital, and wages to day laborers. The Steward’s finances were administered by the Treasurer, who was responsible for allocating and accounting for all hospital expenditures and receipts.

The collection has been divided into three series, 1. Treasurer—Finance; 2. Treasurer—Real Estate; 3. Steward/Superintendent. These series were derived first by whether the responsibilities represented by a group of documents were delegated to the Treasurer or the Steward, then roughly according to the subject matter that the transaction documented. Every effort was taken to clearly divide Treasurer’s materials into “Finance” and “Real Estate,” though some of the papers were less obviously fitted to only one category.

Treasurer—Finance, 1751-1971
This series consists of approximately fifty linear feet of files, ledgers and oversize materials that document loans, gifts, contributions, grants and other sources of income throughout the Hospital’s history. Also documented in the Finance records are Hospital expenditures for capital improvements and the administration of loans. This series covers the broadest span of time, making it useful for analyzing shifts in the economics of health care. Included in these materials are wills, bonds, and other legal documents. The Finance papers are further divided into sixteen subseries: A. Accounts Payable, B. Accounts Receivable, C. Balance Sheets, D. Bankrupt Estates, E. Bonds, F. Capital Stock, G. Cash Books/Day Books/Ledgers, H. Contributions, I. Correspondence, J. Estates and Trusts, K. Loan Office of 1773, L.Minutes, M. Pennsylvania Land Company, N. Power of Attorney, O. Receipts, P. Reports.

Treasurer—Real Estate, 1724-1914
The Real Estate series of the Financial Records collection consists of approximately twenty linear feet of material, much of which is oversize. Included in this series are original parchment deeds, surveys of properties, mortgages, title searches, insurance policies, and records relating to rental properties owned by the Pennsylvania Hospital.

To facilitate access, this series has been divided into the following subseries: A. Accounts, B. Correspondence, C. Deeds, D. Ground Rents, E. Insurance, F. Mortgages, G. Properties, H. Taxes.

Steward/Superintendent, 1751-1921
This series comprises the largest segment of the Financial Records collection, and offers insights into patient care, services provided, methods of treatment used, and nutrition over the course of the Hospital’s first 150 years. The Steward/Superintendent records provide a detailed view of the goods and services contracted for the daily operation of the hospital. The majority of this series consists of receipts and bills, which are supplemented by the cash books, ledgers, and receipt books used to record transactions. Also included in this series are accounts of wages paid to hospital employees and costs relative to building materials and repairs to facilities.

The Steward/Superintendent series has been divided into the following ten subseries: A. Apothecary, B. Building/Repairs, C. Cash Books, D. Ledgers, E. Correspondence, F. Household Expenses, G. Monthly Accounts, H. Receipts, I. Reports, J. Services/Wages.

Preferred Citation
Financial Records Collection. Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Hospital Historic Collections, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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