Special Collections Department
Graff Family Papers
1750 - 1856
(bulk dates 1756 - 1829)
Manuscript Collection Number: 395
Accessioned: Gift of Moyerman Family, 1972
Extent: .6 linear ft.
Content: Correspondence, receipts, and contracts
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: April 2000, by Teresa Morris
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Jacob Graff (1727-1780), a German immigrant, was a bricklayer, builder, and landowner in eighteenth-century Philadelphia. Jacob Graff married Catherine Able and together they had ten children, six of whom survived. The known names of the survivors include Henry, John, and Jacob (1751-1793). Jacob Graff and his son Jacob were merchants also, but it is difficult to distinguish the two in the papers because both were referred to as Jacob Graff.
The Graff family was a prosperous one. They made large purchases and paid wages for multiple day laborers. The National Park Service confirmed Jacob Graff as the landlord of the house where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence.
The grandsons of Jacob Graff, through his son Jacob, were Frederick (1774-1847) and Charles (b. 1779). Frederick Graff was an engineer and architect in Philadelphia, where he was instrumental in planning and building the municipal waterworks at Fairmount. It is likely that Charles Graff was the partner in the Pleasants and Graff business. It is unclear if this business is a direct successor of his father’s mercantile business.
Two other businessmen, Sam Pleasants and Frederick Shinkel, are represented in this collection. Sam Pleasants was also a merchant whose records show him as a contemporary of Charles Graff and the Pleasants and Graff business. Frederick Shinkel was a builder and contemporary of the elder Jacob Graff.
Donaldson, Thomas. The House in which Thomas Jefferson Wrote the Declaration of Independence. Philadelphia: Avil Printing Company, 1898.
Graff Family Papers, 1760-1788. The Winterthur Library. Winterthur, Del.
Frederick Graff Papers, 1798-1829. The Winterthur Library. Winterthur, Del.
Simpson, Henry. The Lives of Eminent Philadelphians, Now Deceased. Philadelphia: William Brotherhead, 1859.
Note: Biographical information is also derived from documents and correspondence in the collection.
The Graff family papers primarily depict the business lives of three generations of merchants and tradesmen in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Philadelphia. The majority of the receipts, letters, and contracts with dates spanning 1750-1856 represent the business affairs of Jacob Graff, his son Jacob, and his grandsons Frederick and Charles Graff. Records from Frederick Shinkel and Sam Pleasants are also included in the collection. Records of Pleasants and Graff, a mercantile business, date from 1821-1829.
The collection is arranged in eight series. Series I consists of the records of Jacob Graff and his son Jacob. Both father and son are written in records as Jacob Graff until the elder’s death in 1780. After that date, the father was referred to as Jacob Graff Sr. As a result, their records are arranged chronologically and no attempt was made to separate the records of father and son. Series I also includes receipts that were pasted to other receipts. Separation of these joined items threatens the physical integrity of the items and they are left in tact.
Frederick and Charles Graff are represented in Series II and III. Frederick Graff’s papers represent his involvement in the family concern as landlords of several Philadelphian properties. The papers of Charles Graff concern some landlord business and his service as Guardian of the Poor in 1818 (F8). An additional series is devoted to the Pleasants and Graff business, primarily receipts. The remaining series concern records for miscellaneous or unattributed Graff family members. The records include contracts for renting or leasing Philadelphia properties and other business receipts.
Box -- Folder -- Contents
1 Series I. Jacob Graff This series represents the business records of Jacob Graff and his son Jacob. They include receipts for bulk purchases of lumber, tin, nails, cloth, salt, and other dry goods. Since both father and son were known as Jacob, no distinction between their records is possible before 1780. Series I.1. Receipts, 1750-1793 Includes a 1761 receipt for Shinkle and Graff merchants F1 Jun 1751 - Dec 1759 F2 Jan 1760 - Dec 1769 F3 Apr 1770 - Dec 1778 F4 Sep 1780 - Jul 1789 F5 Nov 1790 - 1799 F6 undated or multiple attached receipts Series II. Frederick Graff This series includes receipts for rent, poor tax and real estates taxes. F7 Receipts, 1807-1817 Series III. Charles Graff Receipts from Charles Graff's business transactions. There are receipts from his work as Guardian of the Poor. F8 Letters, 1813-1844 F9 Receipts, 1799-1839 and undated F10 Poor Requests, undated Series IV. Miscellaneous Graff Materials This series contains receipts for various Graff family members including Charles, Frederick, Ana, Mrs. Charles Graff, John and Francis. F11 Contracts, 1812-1850 F12 Receipts, 1796-1856 Includes Undertaker’s bill for the estate of Mrs. Anne Graff, 1856. 2 Series V. Sam Pleasants F13 Account sheet, 1793 Series VI. Pleasants and Graff This series includes receipts and letters from the partnership of Pleasants and Graff. Most records represent the incoming and outgoing receipts of a commercial or dry goods store. Series VI.1 Pleasants and Graff, Letters, 1828-1829 F14 1828 Jan - Jun 1829 Sep Series VI.2 Pleasants and Graff, Receipts F15 1821-1826 F16 1827 Jan - Jul F17 1827 Aug - Dec F18 1828 F19 1829 F20 undated Series VII. Frederick Shinkel Includes receipts for dry goods and property taxes. F21 Receipts, 1756-1809 Series VIII. Miscellaneous Receipts F22 Foreign Language receipts (German)
Last modified: 01/19/11