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)
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