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Thomas H. Savery papers

Creation: 1848-1910
Accession: 0285


Thomas H. Savery (1837-1910) was president of Pusey, Jones and Company, a shipbuilder and papermaking machinery manufacturer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1864 he married Sarah Pim Savery (1837-1928). This collection consists of ther business and personal papers of Thomas H. Savery, primarily related to his papermaking machinery ventures, and twenty-nine diaries of Sarah Pim Savery.


  • Creation: 1848-1910



170 item(s)

Biographical Note

Thomas H. Savery (1837-1910) was president of Pusey, Jones and Company, a shipbuilder and papermaking machinery manufacturer 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. The same year he married Sarah Pim Savery (1837-1928). Sarah Pim Savery was the daughter of Richard Pim (1795-1857) and Mary Edge Pim (1806-1879). Richard Pim was a Quaker farmer in Chester, Pennsylvania. She was one of nine children. One her sisters, Annie Pim Cope (1841-1933) married paleontologist, Edward Drinker Cope (1840-1897) in 1865.

The Thomas H. Savery and Sarah P. Savery had five children: William H. Savery (1865-1949), Helen Savery Taylor (1869-1920), Thomas H. Savery, Jr. (1870-1930), Florence Savery (1874-1876), and Annie Pim Savery Thayer (1876-1960). The Savery's made their home on Rodney Street in Wilmington, Delaware and had a summer residence called "Ellerslie" near Hamorton, Pennsylvania.

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 invested 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.

William H. Savery was educated at Haverford College and later went to work for his father at the Pusey & Jones Company. He was president and general manager of the Parsons Engineering Company. He was also president of the Harpers Ferry Electric Light and Power Company, the York Haven Paper Company, and the Shenandoah Pulp Company, enterprises that had been started by his father in the late nineteenth century. He was active in the Technical Association of the Paper and Pulp industry.

Thomas H. Savery, Jr. graduated from Cornell in 1896 and became a consulting engineer. He followed his father into the pulp and paper industry.

Scope and Contents

Correspondence and letter books dating from 1894 to 1910 document Savery's experiments with papermaking machinery and his investments in the Harpers Ferry Light & Power Company and the York Haven Paper Company. Included are copies of Savery's agreements with foreign paper manufacturers including Geheimrath Hofman and Franke Peper. Also included are several Pusey & Jones shipbuilding contracts from circa 1880 to 1890. There are twenty-nine diaries of Sarah Pim Savery, which describe domestic life, childrearing practices, and her activities with the Society of Friends. Her diaries date from 1860 to 1927. There is an account book of servant's wages dating from 1880 to 1885.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

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Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Thomas H. Savery papers
John Beverley Riggs
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Revision Statements

  • 2020: Laurie Sather

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA