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E.B. Leisenring, Jr., papers

1888-2011 Majority of material found within 1953-2004
 Collection
Accession: 2558

Abstract

E.B. (Edward Barnes) “Ted” Leisenring Jr. (1926-2011) was the CEO of a fourth-generation family coal-mining business. He was president of Westmoreland Coal from 1961 to 1988, and remained as chairman of the board until 1992. This collection consists of the Philadelphia corporate executive's business and personal papers and his immediate family, with estate papers of his father, mother and paternal grandfather.

Dates

  • 1888-2011
  • Majority of material found within 1953-2004

Creator

Extent

5 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

E.B. (Edward Barnes) “Ted” Leisenring Jr. (1926-2011) was the CEO of a fourth-generation family coal-mining business. He was president of Westmoreland Coal from 1961 to 1988, and remained as chairman of the board until 1992.

Edward Barnes Leisenring was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on January 26, 1926, the son of Edward Barnes Leisenring, Sr. (1895-1952) and Margaret Pierce Leisenring (1897-1970). He received the equivalent of an elementary and middle school education at nearby Episcopal Academy. He attended the Hotchkiss School from 1940 to 1943, at which point his studies were interrupted by non-combatant military training and service. He graduated with a bachelors in English from his father's alma mater, Yale University, in 1949.

As heir to the family coal-mining business founded by his great-grandfather over a century earlier, he was sent to the mines of the Stonega Coke and Coal Company in southwestern Virginia to learn the business from the ground up, including a term loading coal underground as a member of the United Mine Workers. In 1951, he married Julia du Pont Bissell (1930-).

His father dying young as the result of Parkinson's disease, Leisenring was recalled to the Philadelphia office as vice president of the several family companies in 1952. He was either president or chairman and CEO from 1959/1961 to 1988, and held the emeritus position of chairman until his final retirement in January 1992. He was chair of the National Coal Association in 1970-1971 and of the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, the industry bargaining agency, in 1976-1978. In the first capacity, he led the first visit to the Soviet Union by an industry delegation, and in the second, he represented the operators at the time of the record 110-day strike of 1977-1978, by which the miners ended wildcat strikes in return for a thirty-seven percent increase and lifetime medical care. His last years at the helm were complicated by a collapse in oil prices after 1984 and the resulting shrinking and increasingly volatile international coal market. His retirement brought an end to direct family management, and the companies were drastically restructured during the 1990s.

After formal retirement in 1992, Leisenring maintained a small private office, first at West Conshohocken and then at Paoli, from which to manage his other business affairs. He was the senior director and later chair of the venerable Philadelphia Contributionship, the insurance company founded by Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), and a director of the Southern Railway Company, playing a role in its successful merger into Norfolk Southern Corporation, forming one of the two surviving big eastern railroad systems.

From 1968 to 2009, Leisenring was also a director of Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, Inc., initially an organization of eastern Republican business leaders designed to serve as a living memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower's (1890-1969) international outlook (and Cold War objectives) by bringing members of the emerging technocratic elites from around the world to the U.S. for advanced training. In this capacity, Leisenring was brought into close contact with the traditional Republican leadership and traveled to many countries making business and social contacts.

As a former English major, at various times he attempted to develop some of his experiences, both on the Main Line and at the mines, in the form of drafts for short stories. In retirement, he engaged Philadelphia journalist Dan Rottenberg to write his family's story as In the Kingdom of Coal. Leisenring generally withdrew from public affairs after 2009 and died at Aiken, South Carolina, on March 2, 2011.

Arrangement

Series I. Chronological file; Series II. Subject files; Series III. Desk diaries

Scope and Content

This collection of papers consists primarily of Leisenring's personal office files. As such, they mingle business and personal or social issues. However, those personal items found here usually have some business or legal aspect that warranted their retention in an office setting. Mundane family correspondence is generally lacking, and many of the exchanges with prominent individuals are entirely pro forma. The papers are best viewed as evidence of the networking practiced by a member of the Philadelphia upper class with deep local roots but also international affiliations and concerns. They illuminate Leisenring's formative influences, personality and business and social activities to a remarkable degree.

Among the more important persons appearing as correspondents or subjects of correspondence are: Walter H. Annenberg, William A. "Tony" Boyle, James L. Buckley, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Robert B. Claytor, W. Graham Claytor, L. Stanley Crane, Malcolm S. Forbes, Gerald R. Ford, Theodore Friend, A. Linwood Holton, governor of Virginia, Tom King, later Baron King of Bridgewater, Gene Krupa, cartoonist Jeff McNelly (with whom Leisenring exchanged caricatures of Jimmy Carter), Henry P. McIlhenny, Drew Pearson, Jay Rockefeller, John M. Seabrook, Arlen Specter, old roommate Paul Van Marx, Robert Venturi, The 15th Earl of Westmorland, George A. Weymouth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth.

Important organizations mentioned include: the Alfalfa Club in Washington, D.C., the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, the Brandywine Conservancy, the Connellsville Coke and Iron Company, Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, Inc., Episcopal Academy, the Hotchkiss School, the International Dendrology Society, the National Coal Association, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Penn Virginia Corporation, the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire, the RARE Center for Tropical Conservation, Southern Railway Company, Stonega Coke and Coal Company, United Mine Workers of America, Westmoreland Coal Company, and Yale University.

The memoranda Leisenring prepared on several foreign excursions for the Eisenhower Fellowships (mostly to the Middle East and Far East), and the NCA trip to the Soviet Union show something of the travel writer's eye for telling details, and the texts of interviews with Dan Rottenberg are equally candid. Leisenring often penned a humorous or caustic gloss on his own correspondence, and he and a childhood friend, Francis I. Gowen, did the same to a selection of the elder E. B. Leisenring's letters.

The papers also contain estate accounts for his grandfather, the first E. B. Leisenring, and his mother, Margaret P. Wells, letters to and from his three children, notes on family genealogy, and a small quantity of items pertaining to his cousins in the Wentz family, who were also members or beneficiaries of the family coal business.

Access Restrictions

25-year time seal from the date of creation due to privacy/security reasons.

Related Material

Penn Virginia Corporation records (Accession 1764), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library. Includes E.B.L.'s official business correspondence, plus family papers and genealogical material.

Westmoreland Coal Company records (Accession 1765), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library. Includes E.B.L.'s official business correspondence.


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

Materials were removed from Mr. Leisenring's private business office in 2013.

Separated Materials

Some publications were transferred to the Published Collections Department and are cataloged in Hagley's online catalog.

E.B. Leisenring, Jr. photographs (Accession 2013.210), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
E. B. Leisenring, Jr., papers
Status:
Author:
Christopher T. Baer
Date:
2013
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400