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E.B. Leisenring, Jr., papers
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E.B. Leisenring, Jr., papers

Accession 2558

Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library


PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
302-658-2400
research@hagley.org

Finding aid prepared by Christopher T. Baer in June 2013., 2013 June 12

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-11-04T11:47-0500

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, E.B. Leisenring, Jr., papers (Accession 2558), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

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Descriptive Summary

Title: E.B. Leisenring, Jr., papers
Dates: 1888-2011, bulk 1953-2004
Accession Number: 2558
Creator: Leisenring, E. B., Jr., (Edward Barnes), 1926-2011; Leisenring, E. B., Sr., (Edward Barnes), 1895-1952; Leisenring, Edward B., (Edward Barnes), 1845-1894
Extent: 4.75 linear feet
Language of Material: Some items are in Russian with English translations.
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: Business and personal papers of Philadelphia corporate executive Edward Barnes "Ted" Leisenring, Jr., and his immediate family, with estate papers of his father, mother and paternal grandfather. He was the CEO of a fourth-generation family coal-mining business as well as the quintessential "Philadelphia gentleman" as that category was defined by the sociologist E. Digby Baltzell.
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Administrative Information


Provenance

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

Access Restrictions

Papers less than 25 years old are closed to researchers.

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Biographical Note

Edward Barnes Leisenring was born in Bryn Mawr, Pa., on January 26, 1926, the son of E. B. Leisenring, Sr., and Margaret Pierce Leisenring. He received the equivalent of an elementary and middle school education at nearby Episcopal Academy, where his classmates included the future architect Robert Venturi. 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 B.A. in English from his father's alma mater, Yale University, in 1949, having as schoolmates such future notables as George H. W. Bush and William F. Buckley. His father had been a Yale classmate of Bush's father Prescott Bush. Like his father, Leisenring was tapped by the Book and Snake senior society.

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. During this interval, he married Julia du Pont Bissell, a connection that fostered ties to the families of business executives, art collectors and practicing artists who made their homes in the picturesque Brandywine Valley, including "Frolic" Weymouth and the Wyeths.

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 37 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 Frankllin, 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 Eisenhower's 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, Leisenring possessed a facility for direct communication, whether spoken or written, as well as a dry wit and fertile sense of humor. He sent Who's Who a bogus notice of his decease simply to get himself delisted. 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, S.C., on March 2, 2011.

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Scope and Content

This collection of papers consists primarily of Mr. 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.

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Separated Material

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

E.B. Leisenring, Jr. photographs (Accession 2013.210.001), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

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Access Points

Bissell family
Bissell, Alfred E.
Bituminous coal industry--Soviet Union
Bituminous coal industry--United States
Bush, George, 1924-
Eisenhower fellowships
Episcopal Academy. (Newtown Square, Pa.)
Leisenring family
Norfolk Southern Corporation.
Upper class--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--Social life and customs--20th century
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Series Descriptions and Inventory

I. Chronological files
Box Folder
1 1-24 Chronological file, 1952-1985
Box Folder
2 1-22 Chronological file, 1986-2008
II. Subject files
Box Folder
2 23 Bissell, Julia Andrews -- Memorial, 1994
Box Folder
2 24 Camp Harmony Angling Club, 1975-1988
Box Folder
2 25 Coalfield Progress articles, 2004
Box Folder
2 26-28 Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, 1984-2011
Box Folder
2 29 Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships -- Directory, 2003
Box Folder
2 30 Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships -- Mongolia, 1999-2000
Box Folder
2 31 Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships -- Publications, 1988-1998
Box Folder
3 32 Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships -- Trips -- Australia, 1985
Box Folder
3 1 Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships -- Trips -- Far East, 1986
Box Folder
3 2 Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships -- Trips -- Middle East, 1986
Box Folder
3 3 Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships -- Trips -- Sweden, Hungary, Turkey, Ireland, 1987-1992
Box Folder
3 4 Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation, 1983-1989
Box Folder
3 5 Episcopal Academy, 1939-2009
Box Folder
3 6 Flask and Bottle Society, 1951-1983
Box Folder
3 7 Genealogy/Family history, 1969-1998
Box Folder
3 8 Hotchkiss School, 1939-2009
Box Folder
3 9 Hotchkiss School - Paul van Marx Memorial, 1997
Box Folder
2 10 International Dendrology Society -- Trips to Italy and Jamaica, 1988-1990
Box Folder
3 11 In the Kingdom of Coal, 1998-2007
Box Folder
3 12 In the Kingdom of Coal -- Notes and Interviews
Box Folder
3 13 In the Kingdom of Coal -- Responses, 2004
Box Folder
3 14 Leisenring, Edward B., 1888-1894
Box Folder
3 15 Leisenring, Edward B. -- Estate -- Minute book, 1894-1917
Box Folder
3 16 Leisenring, E. B., Sr. -- Bryn Mawr house, 1948-1954
Box Folder
3 17 Leisenring, E. B., Sr., -- Letters with comments by E.B.L., Jr., and Francis I. Gowen
Box Folder
3 18 Leisenring, E. B., Sr. -- Personal, 1917-1952
Box Folder
3 19 Leisenring, E. B., Jr. -- Personal, 1926-1982
Box Folder
3 20 Leisenring, Pa., 1995
Box Folder
3 21 Mauch Chunk, Pa., 1987-2008
Box Folder
3 22 Miscellaneous clippings, 1975-1987
Box Folder
3 23 Mountain Empire Community College, 2007-2008
Box Folder
3 24 Penn Virginia Corporation, 1982-2008
Box Folder
3 25 Philadelphia Contributionship, 1994-2010
Box Folder
3 26 Philadelphia Orchestra, 1994-1997
Box Folder
3 27 Powell River Project, 1993-1995
Box Folder
3 28 RARE Center for Tropical Conservation, 1994-2000
Box Folder
3 29 SKF USA Inc., 1966-1995
Box Folder
4 1 Southern Railway Company/Norfolk Southern Corporation, 1962-2009
Box Folder
4 2-3 Speeches, 1967-1988
Box Folder
4 4 Stonega Coke and Coal Company -- Mine inspector's notebook, 1949-1950
Box Folder
4 5 United Mine Workers of America/BCOA, 1989-1993
Box Folder
4 6 U.S. coal industry mission to the Soviet Union, 1970
Box Folder
4 7 Venturi, Robert, 1997-2001
Box Folder
4 8-9 Wells, Margaret Patterson (mother) -- Estate, 1952-1986
Box Folder
4 10 Wentz, Edward Leisenring, 1903
Box Folder
4 11 Wentz, John S. -- Papers and estate, 1894-1941
Box Folder
4 12 Westmoreland Coal Company -- Articles, 1959-1996
Box Folder
4 13 Westmoreland Coal Company -- Foreign trips, 1972-1990
Box Folder
4 14 Westmoreland Coal Company -- Stock sold by Bullitt Estates, 1970
Box Folder
4 15 Westmorland, Earl of, 1993
Box Folder
4 16 Willistown Conservation Trust, 1996-2009
Box Folder
4 17 Winterthur Museum and Gardens, 1983-1993
Box Folder
4 18 Yale, 1944-1965
III. Desk diaries
Box Folder
4 19-22 Diaries, 1955-1976
Box Folder
5 1-12 Diaries, 1977-2009