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Collecting Across Generations

Updated: Apr 23


Stenton's Blue Lodging Room housed the majority of James Logan's 2,681-volume library during his lifetime until 1752. The built-in press cupboard in the room probably served as a book closet. His grandson's wife, Deborah Norris Logan (1761-1839), used the same room for herself, calling it "my apartment in the library," keeping her writings, diaries, poetry, and transcriptions of James Logan's papers in the "press cupboard." While James Logan collected ancient relics, Deborah collected family and local objects connected with the period her "antiquary friend," John Fanning Watson (1779-1860) would call "olden time," Philadelphia's founding era. Deborah's Norris-Logan lineage, status as mistress of Stenton, and their common interest in "olden" times and things brought Watson to Stenton for many Saturday visits over tea beginning in 1823. Image Above: Deborah Logan’s inlaid relic wood “snuff box,” presented to her by Watson, July 20, 1825, the day the Marquis de Lafayette visited Germantown on his multi-year tour of the United States. Stenton Collection, Gift of Rosemary Crawford, Logan descendant.



Image Captions: 1) The pine bookcase on the left is the only intact, movable bookcase that remains from James Logan’s time at Stenton. After the books departed for the Loganian Library on Sixth Street near the State House, the bookcase furnished the “middle room” in the garret, which likely housed enslaved workers in Stenton’s third floor. 2) The Penn-Logan-Watson Arm Chair, c.1690-1720. This English cane chair belonged to William Penn, who gave it to James Logan. Deborah gave the chair to Watson in 1824 out of the Stenton garret. John Howell Watson donated the chair to Independence Hall. It remains in the collection of Independence National Historical Park. 3) John Fanning Watson’s personal Reliquary Box, 1810-1823, veneered with relic wood. Winterthur Museum. 4) One of the treasures in Watson’s box is a Norris family sweet-meat bag, said to date to Elizabethan times, which Deborah Logan gave him. 5) The first known image of Stenton is Watson’s 1823 sketch from his manuscript Annals of Philadelphia, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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