2024 Events Listing

INTRODUCING THE SERVANTS OF COMPTON

Free Lecture presented by Joyce Monroe

Thursday, March 21, 2024 at 7 pm

First Presbyterian Church of Springfield
1710 Bethlehem Pike (corner of E. Mill Road), Flourtown

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Springfield Township Historical Society will host “Introducing the Servants of Compton,” a presentation on the women who worked at the Morris estate, now known as the Morris Arboretum and Gardens.

These women made it possible for John and Lydia Morris to entertain family, friends and dignitaries in fine style. And they were always present to bid bon voyage and “welcome home” when the Morris siblings went on lengthy trips to foreign countries.

The staff of Compton served the Morrises at a time of economic growth in Philadelphia, when railroads, manufacturing, and mining created unprecedented wealth. Great wealth meant larger town homes and second homes in the country with plenty of space for furniture, art and collections of bric-a-brac.  Inevitably, lavish homes and matching lifestyles gave rise to the domestic service industry, which attracted impoverished Europeans to cities on the East Coast in search of better jobs and better wages.

However, it soon became apparent that the European system of servanthood was not suited for America, as many domestic workers who labored and lived in their employer’s home left their positions after a short time. During the Gilded Age, the instability of the domestic service industry was called “the servant problem.” Yet, despite persistent problems in other wealthy households, Compton’s staff remained loyal for years.

Who worked for the Morrises? What roles did they play? Why were they willing to spend their lives in service to the Morrises? Where did they go when Compton became an Arboretum? Dr. Munro will answer these and other questions as she tells the stories of Ellen, Nellie, Jetta, Katie and other long-serving women who gave themselves to their work wholeheartedly.

We welcome back Joyce Munro, former Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Chestnut Hill College. Dr. Munro is author of Untold Stories of Compton and lecturer on the history of Morris Arboretum and Gardens. Her essays about the Arboretum’s past can be found in Philadelphia Stories, Hidden City Philadelphia, Broad Street Review, Poor Yorick, The Copperfield Review and WHYY Speak Easy.

Photo: Compton servants, circa 1927 (Courtesy of the O’Toole family)

OPEN HOUSE

Saturday, May 11, 2024

10 am to 12 pm

Black Horse Inn, Flourtown

Spend an evening at the original Stotesbury Club House in Wyndmoor. Edward Stotesbury hosted his fellow equestrians at the Club House, which was built c. 1908, roughly five years after he acquired the nearby Winoga Stock Farm. The current owners have generously offered to open their home to host this special event and fundraiser for the Springfield Township Historical Society.

More details on this event will be released later

Future events and programs are in the works. Please join our mailing list or like Springfield Township Historical Society Facebook and Instagram pages to receive the most up-to-date information.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023
7PM

First Presbyterian Church of Springfield
1710 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown