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Thomas H. Savery diaries

Creation: 1864-1910
Accession: 0291


  • Creation: 1864-1910



1 Linear Foot

Physical Description

49 volumes.

Biographical Note

Thomas H. Savery (1837-1910) was president of Pusey, Jones and Company, a ship builder and manufacturer of papermaking machinery in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Savery was born on May 31, 1837 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After attending the Friends Select School and the Westtown Boarding School in Chester County, he then became apprentice machinist at William Sellers & Company of Philadelphia. After finishing this apprenticeship he was employeed as a foreman in the shops of the Columbus, Piqua & Indiana Railroad. He then became superintendent in the Pennsylvania Railroad's Altoona shops.

In 1864 Savery became shop foreman for Pusey, Jones & Company, in Wilmington, Delaware. That same year he married Sarah Pim (1837-1928). The couple had five children, two sons and three daughters.

In 1874 when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy he was named general manager, chief operating officer, and vice president. He later became president. During the 1880s and 1890s Savery became more interested in the production of paper and wood pulp. He patented several paperpmaking machines which were widely used, and Pusey & Jones became a leader in the industry.

With several associates Savery bought several properties on the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in 1884, including the site of the famous armory. He first established paper mills on these sites and in the mid-1890s began building electric power generating facilities. He organized the Harpers Ferry Electric Light & Power Company.

In the 1890s, Savery invested in a new sulfite pulp mill and a paper mill near Denver, Colorado. Savery poured much of his own money into this venture, but it was unsuccessful. Around 1900, Savery helped to organize the York Haven Paper Company and the York Haven Water & Power Company on the Susquehana River. In his later years Savery held a number of corporate directorates. He was president of the Wilmington Savings Fund Society. He retired from Pusey & Jones in 1907 and died three years later.

Scope and Contents

Personal and business diaries of Thomas Savery documenting his career from 1864 to 1910 that include technical drawings and experimental data used in developing his patented papermaking machinery. Savery's career as machine shop foreman and general manager at Pusey & Jones is also described. The day to day activities of the shops in which he worked are detailed as well as his income, expenses, and investments. Among projects noted is the construction of Machinery Hall at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. There are also discussions of his involvement in the Harper Ferry Electric Light & Power Company, York Haven Water & Power Company and York Haven Paper Company. There is a volume detailing his involvement in the Denver pulp and paper industry. Savery's involvement with the Wilmington Board of Trade and the Society of Friends are described in these volumes. There are also numerous notations on his personal and cultural life.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

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Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Thomas H. Savery diaries
John Beverley Riggs
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
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Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA