University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

G. Burton Pearson, Jr.

1840 - 1999

(bulk dates 1880 - 1950)

Manuscript Collection Number: 432
Accessioned: Gift of Pearson Family, 2000 - 2001.
Extent: 6.3 linear ft. and 2 oversize boxes.
Content: Photographs, correspondence, letters, ephemera, postcards, greeting cards, clippings, books, stationery, printed materials, certificates, diplomas, journals, passport, report cards.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: October - December 2001, by Karen E. Ryder

for reference assistance email Special Collections
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Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

George Burton Pearson, Jr., (1905-1999), was a Delaware lawyer, judge, and banker. He was educated at the Wilmington Friends School, (1918-1923), Princeton, (1924-1927), and the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned an LL.B in 1931. Judge Victor Woolley chose Burton Pearson as his first law clerk. From 1931 until 1939, Pearson worked in the Wilmington law firm of Hugh M. Morris. Pearson left private legal practice in 1939 to serve as Delaware’s first statutory Vice Chancellor. In 1946, Governor Walter W. Bacon appointed Burton Pearson Associate Judge of the Delaware Supreme Court, in which capacity he served until 1949, when he resigned to take a position at Wilmington Trust Company. He remained with Wilmington Trust Company as a Senior Vice President, Director, and Chairman of the Trust Committee until he retired.

Burton Pearson was elected President of the Delaware State Bar Association in 1950, serving until 1952. In 1951, he joined the Board of Trustees of the University of Delaware. He was a founding member and president of the Unidel Foundation, Inc., which supports many academic departments at the University by providing research funds for students. In 1988, the University awarded Judge Pearson an honorary doctorate.

Burton Pearson was born in Middletown, Delaware, where he lived with his father, G. Burton Pearson, Sr., M.D., (1869-195?), and his mother, Estelle Cochran Pearson, (1871-1947). Burton Pearson’s maternal great-grandfather was Robert Thomas Cochran, brother of John P. Cochran, who was governor of Delaware from 1875-1879. An only child, Burton Pearson apparently had strong and supportive extended family relationships, especially with his aunt, Oka Cochran Warren. He attended Middletown Public Schools until 1918, when his father relocated his medical practice to 94 East Main Street, Newark, Delaware. Burton Pearson continued to live with his parents in Newark until he married Isabella Turner in 1941. Burton and Isabella Pearson raised their two children near Wilmington, Delaware. Burton Pearson married Edith du Pont late in life, after his first wife died in 1962.

Throughout his working life, Pearson was active in the Delaware Bar Association. In 1993, Pearson contributed his oral history for the Bar History Project on the History of the Delaware Supreme Court. His hobbies ranged from history and genealogy to semantics to winetasting. Pearson served on the executive committees of the Wilmington Institute Free Library, the Tower Hill School, the Historical Society of Delaware, and the Memorial Hospital of Wilmington. He was a member of the Alliance Française of Wilmington, the Wilmington Country Club, the Society of the Cincinnati, Sons of the American Revolution, and the Society of Colonial Wars. He had a home in Montchanin, Delaware, and in the exclusive Mill Reef Club in Antigua, W.I. George Burton Pearson, Jr. died in December, 1999.


Princeton Alumni Weekly (Online Archives), Volume 1999-00, Number 17, July 5, 2000, Memorials.

Winslow, Helen L., ed. The Delaware Bar in the Twentieth Century. The Delaware State Bar Association, 1994.

Note: Some biographical information is derived from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

The G. Burton Pearson, Jr. Papers include personal correspondence, papers, and photographs from his birth in 1905 until shortly before his death in 1999. The Pearson papers also contain correspondence, papers, and photographs from some of Burton Pearson’s ancestors, dating from about 1840 to the 1950s. The collection has been arranged in two series: I. George Burton Pearson, Jr.’s papers; and II. Pearson family papers, which contains the papers of relatives from the Pearson, Cochran, Warren, and Hardcastle families. Family photographs and correspondence between Pearson, his parents, and his aunt, Oka Cochran Warren, between about 1880 and 1950, form the bulk of the collection.

The collection, especially the photographic series, (I.3 and II.3), is strong as a source of Delaware local and family history. For example, the collection includes photographs of members of the Pearson, Cochran, Warren, and Hardcastle families of Delaware and Maryland. Photographs of early-twentieth-century Middletown depict Delaware architecture, children at school and at play, pets, domestic life, and leisure activities. The collection contains a real estate advertisement and several photographs of the Pearson family home at 94 East Main Street, Newark, Delaware. Extensive genealogical information on the Pearson, Cochran, and Hardcastle families of Maryland and Delaware is available in the collection, (Series I.4).

The collection reveals much more about Burton Pearson’s relationships with his parents and his aunt, Oka Cochran Warren, than about his professional life. The Princeton materials, (F2, F3, F25 through F36, and F86), contain correspondence between Pearson, his parents, and his aunt about daily matters such as pocket money and laundry, as well as student life. One letter has a piece of the goalpost from the Princeton-Yale game of 1925 pierced through the top of it. Course notes, grade reports, exams, bills for tuition and housing, social activities, yearbooks, and photographs of Princeton colleagues are also included.

Much of the correspondence from Pearson’s mother, Estelle, and her sister, Oka, contains Christian Science messages and clippings from the Christian Science Monitor (F11). Another strength of the collection is the large assortment of valentines, Christmas cards, birthday cards, greeting cards, and photographic postcards. Some of the valentines are handmade from wallpaper scraps; there are also many examples of early-twentieth-century manufactured cards, such as Tuck’s valentines and postcards. Photographic postcards depict early-twentieth-century street scenes of Middletown, Delaware. There are several sets of photographic postcards of Europe in the 1920s and the Los Angeles Expo of 1939.

The collection includes a few pieces of correspondence between Pearson and Hugh Morris, in whose office Pearson worked from 1931 until 1939 (F5). There are several photographs of Pearson’s judical associates, including one of Judge Victor B. Woolley (F94). The oral history that Pearson contributed in 1993 for the Delaware Bar history project on the Delaware Supreme Court, along with Pearson’s revisions, is included in Series I.2 (F76 and F77). There are a small number of papers and photographs related to Pearson’s work on the Board of Trustees of the University of Delaware (F68 through F72). Pearson apparently became involved in the General Semantics movement in the late 1940s. The collection includes papers and minutes of congresses of the Institute of General Semantics, including essays by Count Korzybski, S.I. Hayakawa, and one that Pearson delivered at the Institute’s Third Congress in 1949 (F51 through F58).

Series List

I.   G. Burton Pearson, Jr. Papers, 1905-1999

     1.   Correspondence, 1906-1995

     2.   Papers, c. 1910-1999

     3.   Photographs, 1905- c. 1990

     4.   Genealogical Materials, 1980s

II.  Pearson Family Papers, c. 1840-1950

     1.   Correspondence, c. 1882-1945

     2.   Papers, c. 1870-1940

     3.   Photographs, c. 1840-1950

     4.   Miscellaneous Newspapers, 1912-1949

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

1         Series I.  G. Burton Pearson, Jr. Papers, 1905-1999
          Arranged in four subseries by correspondence, papers,
          photographs, and genealogical materials. Each subseries
          is arranged chronologically to highlight Pearson’s
          changing interests and activities. Series I.4,
          Genealogical Materials bridges the two series.

          Series I.1 Correspondence, 1906-1995
          Contains personal correspondence; valentines, greeting
          cards and postcards, some made by Tuck’s;
          correspondence from college years at Princeton; letters
          reflecting Christian Science beliefs.

     F1   Childhood, 1906-1921

     F2   1923-1925
     F3   1926-1927
     F4   Early Career, 1931-1935
          Contains a letter to Hugh Morris and two cards from
     F5   Career, 1936-1939
          Contains correspondence with Hugh Morris, receipts from
          Middletown businesses, and a letter concerning
          Pearson’s account at Jacob Reed’s Sons, Philadelphia.
     F6   Personal, 1940-1942
          Contains letters and postcards from relatives to
          Pearson and his wife, Isabella Turner, an invitation to
          their wedding, and a letter (in English) from a French
          friend, André Aupetit, concerning the outbreak of World
          War II.
     F7   War Years, 1943-1945
          Contains correspondence with the Aupetit family,
          clippings about the domestic wartime travel crisis,
          Christian Science clippings, letters on stationery from
          the Essex and Sussex in Spring Lake Beach, NJ, and a
          letter from Pearson to his mother mentioning the
          failing health of Judge Woolley.
          Family Life
     F8   1946-1948
          Contains menus from The Inn at Buck Hill Falls in the
     F9   1949-1998
          Contains Delaware business ephemera and correspondence
          with Lord Buckhurst.
     F10  Miscellaneous, undated.
     F11  Christian Science, 1931-1943
          Contains inspirational letters and clippings from
          Pearson’s mother, Estelle Cochran Pearson.
     F12  Postcards, 1908-1918
          Some contain scenes of early Middletown.
     F13  Valentines, 1906-1915
          Contains many examples of valentines, ranging from
          homemade to Tuck’s.
     F14  Graduation and Greeting Cards, 1920-1935
     F15  Birthday and Greeting Cards, 1939-1942
     F16  Birthday and Anniversary Cards, 1943-1945
          Birth Congratulations
     F17  1945
          Cards, tags from gifts and flower arrangements
          congratulating the Pearsons on the birth of their first
     F18  September-October, 1945
     F19  October-November, 1945
     F20  Birthday and Greeting Cards, 1946-1995
     F21  Cards, undated
          Includes one Tuck’s Christmas card.
1         Series I.2.  Papers, c. 1910-1999
          Contains administrative records and ephemera from
          Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania; papers
          and correspondence from the Institute for General
          Semantics; the Supreme Court of Delaware History
          sponsored by the Delaware Bar History Project; and the
          University of Delaware Board of Trustees.
     F22  Childhood, c. 1910-1919
          Includes Pearson’s composition book from Middletown
          grammar school.
          Wilmington Friends School
     F23  1921-23
          Includes programs, grades, and diploma from Wilmington
          Friends School.

     F24  Whittier Miscellany, 1922
     F25  Administrative, 1922-1931
     F26  Ephemera, 1923-1927
          Includes address books, leather bound mementos of
          “Class Day, 1927,” campus songbook, and a pocket sized
          Princeton Handbook.
     F27  Freshman Herald, 1927
2    F28  Schoolwork Prints, Part 1
     F29  Schoolwork Prints, Part 2
     F30  Class Notes 1, Government
     F31  Class Notes 2, Art History
     F32  Class Notes 3, Architecture 304
     F33  Class Notes 4, Architecture 303
     F34  Nassau Literary Magazine, 1925
     F35  Nassau Herald, 1927
     F36  Twenty-Year Reunion, 1947

     F37  Passport, 1927-1928
          University of Pennsylvania
     F38  Administrative, 1928-1934
          Includes letters of admission, grades, financial
     F39  Coursework and Exams, 1929-1931
     F40  Commencement, 1931
     F41  Erskine School, 1929-1940
          Isabella Turner Pearson attended this school, located
          in Boston, MA.
     F42  Selective Service, 1940
     F43  Legal Stationery, undated
     F44  Address Books, undated
     F45  Maps, 1915-1941
          Includes four topographical maps of Delaware, Maryland,
          and New Jersey.
     F46  Law Career, 1927-1949
          Includes copies of correspondence relating to Pearson’s
          appointment as Vice-Chancellor of Delaware.
     F47  “Disposition of Unclaimed Trust Funds,” Trusts and
          Estates, 1943
          Copy of a legal journal containing the above article
          written by Pearson.
     F48  Law Quarterly Review, 1946
     F49  Tribute to Judge Woolley, 1938-1945
          Includes correspondence with Judge Woolley about the
          Society of Colonial Wars, copies of tributes to Judge
          Woolley given by Hugh Morris and James Morford.
     F50  Patent Law Association, undated
3    F51  Papers by Korzybski, 1936-1946
     F52  Reviews, 1934-1943
     F53  Applied Papers, 1934-1949
     F54  Papers by S.I. Hayakawa, 1938-1943
     F55  Monographs, 1939-1942
     F56  Institute for General Semantics, 1937-1950
     F57  Congresses, 1935, 1941
     F58  Third Congress, 1948-1949
          Includes “Semantics and the Law,” written by Pearson.
     F59  Delaware Tercentenary Day Assembly, 1938
          Includes a paper titled “Beginnings of Delaware”
          delivered by Hugh Morris at University of Delaware.
     F60  GBP Judiciary License Plate, 1942
     F61  Wilmington Trust, 1954, 1964
     F62  The Queen’s Garden Party, 1966
     F63  Dechert Price & Rhoads, 1975
          Autographed copy, “For Edie and Burt,” of Dechert Price
          & Rhoads: A Law Firm Centennial, 1975 by Robert V.
          Massey, Jr.
     F64  The Hagley Cookbook, 1983
3    F65  Miscellaneous Activities, 1923-1999
          Includes certificate of membership in Wilmington
          Country Club; Alumni Bulletin Wilmington Friends
          School; Crusade for Freedom; Republican Medal.
     F66  Winetasting
          2 items: Guide and Cellar Book from Concorde Air France
          wine country tour; “Chevalier du Tastevin” certificate,
     F67  Delaware History, 1986
          University of Delaware
     F68  Inauguration of President Russel C. Jones, 1987
     F69  Diploma, 1988
     F70  Honorary Doctor of Laws, 1988
     F71  Honorary Degree Sandra Day O’Connor, 1990
     F72  Board of Trustees, 1987-1995
     F73  Mill Reef Club, 1988-1989
     F74  Memorial Session Chancellor William Marvel, 1992
     F75  Salute to Elbert N. Carvel, 1993
          Delaware Bar History Project
     F76  Oral Interview 1 (First Draft), 1993
     F77  Oral Interview 2 (Revision), 1993
4    F78  Notes and Correspondence, 1993-1994
     F79  Miscellaneous Papers, various dates
          Includes Delaware ephemera, Boy Scouts of America War
          Service Medal, 1918; Pearson’s Pennsylvania RR ticket
          from 1931; French francs.
          Series I.3 Photographs, 1904-c. 1990
          Contains snapshots; European travel photographs and
          photographic postcards; and professional portraits from
          Wilmington studios such as Cummings and Sanborn.

     F80  Childhood Baby Portraits, 1905-1906

     F81  Childhood Portraits, 1906-1911
     F82  Childhood Photograph Album
     F83  Photographs of friends, c. 1910-1925
          Includes many photographs of pets, some Middletown
          outdoor scenes.
     F84  Youth Portraits, c. 1920s
     F85  Young Adult Portraits, 1924-1927
          Includes four copies of a Cummings photograph, dated
          1926. Handwritten on the back cover of one is “G.
          Burton Pearson, Jr. July 1924 – Beedle Officer at
          Marshalltown, Del –”
     F86  Princeton, 1924-1927

     F87  European Trip, 1927
          Photographic Postcards
     F88  France, 1920s
     F89  Europe (Germany, Belgium), 1920s
     F90  England, 1920s
     F91  Expo Los Angeles, 1939
     F92  Park Von Sanssouci, 1920s
          Twenty professional photographs of German tourist
     F93  Judge Pearson Portraits, c. 1940-1990
     F94  Judicial Associates
          Includes an autographed portrait of Judge Woolley dated
     F95  Leisure Activities, c. 1930s-1940s
     F96  Vacations, c. 1940s-1950s
          Includes photographs of Xanadu, Irenée du Pont’s estate
          in Cuba.
     F97  Family Portraits and Snapshots, 1940s-1960s
     F98  State Department Dinner, 1978
     F99  Family Life, c. 1970s-1990s
     F100 Two Photographs
          “Explosives Department, 1940-1944”; group portrait,
          possibly University of Delaware Trustees, by Willard
          Stewart, (c. 1950?).         
4         Series I.4 Genealogical Materials, 1980s
               Includes obituaries, family correspondence
               specifically related to genealogy, a mid-
               nineteenth-century Delaware deed, professional
               prepared genealogies for the Pearson and Cochran
               families, and information on the Alrich family

     F101 Research Notes and Charts
          Obituary for Robert Thomas Cochran; Hardcastle and
          Bromwell genealogies.
     F102 Genealogical and Historical Sketch Pearson Family, 1984
     F103 Cochran Family Notebook, 1986
     F104 Hardcastle Family Bible
          Three xeroxed copies of family genealogy pages from the
     F105 Cochran Family Crest
     F106 Ancestral Lives of George Burton Pearson, Jr.
     F107 Alrich Reunion, 1986
     F108 Ambruster Deed, 1864
          Series II.  Pearson Family Papers, c. 1840-1950
          Includes correspondence, papers, and photographs of
          Pearson, Cochran, Hardcastle, Matlack, and Warren
          families, ancestors and relatives of G. Burton Pearson,
          Series II.1  Correspondence, c. 1882-1945
          George Burton Pearson, Sr.
5    F109 Courtship, 1889-1900
          Contains letters of Estelle Cochran and George Burton
          Pearson, Sr.
     F110 Marriage, 1900
     F111 Estelle Cochran Pearson, 1902-1918
     F112 Family, 1923-1941
     F113 Family, 1942-1945
     F114 Undated
     F115 Cochran Family, 1882-1908

     F116 Cochran Family, 1910-1943
          Contains photographic postcards depicting Middletown,
          DE, and Trenton, NJ, 1920s.
     F117 Hardcastle Family, 1901
          Two letters mention Christian Science.
          Series II.2 Papers, c. 1870-1940
          George Burton Pearson, Sr.
     F118 Pearson Diary, 1895
          Diary kept by George Burton Pearson, Sr., while a
          student at Harvard Medical School.
     F119 “On the Training of Parents,” The Outlook, 1907
          Two-part magazine article, annotated, possibly by
          George Burton Pearson, Sr.
     F120 Miscellaneous, c. 1918-1945
          Contains Estelle Pearson’s World War II Ration Book,
          and a 1918 real estate advertisement for 94 E. Main
          Street, Newark, DE, the Pearson’s home.
     F121 Moravian Seminary, 1887-1888
          Estelle Cochran’s report cards (4 items); four pages of
          stories written by anonymous child(ren).
     F122 Carlyle Birthday Book, 1887
     F123 Warren Family, 1906-1920
          Miscellaneous papers and letters belonging to Oka
          Cochran Warren, Pearson’s aunt; includes prayer book,
          “Daily Strength for Daily Needs.”
     F124 Mrs. E. P. Matlack Will, 1910
          Mentions Outcalt, Cook, Connable family names,
          relatives of the Pearsons.
     F125 Matlack Scrapbook, c. 1850-1998
          Marbled leather cover, very poor condition, many items
          laid in.  Includes
          Cincinnati and New York newspaper clippings of fiction,
          morals, Civil War,
          Lincoln assassination; letters from Alice Outcalt of
          Selma, Ohio about a trip to Los Angeles in 1885;
          programs, cards, and recipes.5
          Series II.3.  Photographs, c. 1840-1950
          Pearson Family
     F126 Portraits, 1860s-1890s
          Studio portraits of George Burton Pearson, Sr., family
          of origin. Studios include Elmer Chickering, Boston;
          Gilbert & Bacon, Philadelphia; and Perkins, Baltimore.
     F127 Portraits, 1900s-1917
          Most are from Taylor “Orr” Studio, Elberton, GA.
          George Burton Pearson, Sr., Portraits
6    F128 1897-1915
     F129 1940s-1950s
          George Burton Pearson, Sr., Family
     F130 Estelle Cochran Pearson, undated
          Photo by Gutekunst, Philadelphia.
     F131 Postcards Album
          Photographic postcards of Pearson, Jr., and birth
          announcements, 1905.
     F132 Estelle and Pearson, Jr., 1905-1916
     F133 Family Portraits, 1907-1915
     F134 Family Snapshots, 1900-1930s
     F135 Homes, 1920s-1950s
          Includes photographs of 94 E. Main St., Newark, DE.
     F136 Family Transportation, 1899-1920s
          Horse and buggy, automobiles, Pearson, Sr. with auto
          outside 94 E. Main Street, Newark, DE, c. 1920.

          Hardcastle Family
     F137 Sally Hardcastle, 1840s
          Contains a hand colored photograph by J.H. Young,
     F138 Robert Emmet and Anna Maria Bromwell Hardcastle, 1870s
          Five items, two by Gutekunst, Philadelphia.
     F139 Family Portraits, 1880s-1920s
          Contains two Bachrach studio portraits
     F140 Tintype, poor condition, Preston Hardcastle family
     F141 Leisure Snapshots, c. 1880s-1920s
     F142 Cochran/Hardcastle Album, undated
          Approximately 3-1/2” x 5”, leather bound, “Photographs”
          printed on spine; contains photos of Robert Thomas
          Cochran, brother of Delaware governor John P. Cochran,
          original photograph of Sally Hardcastle (see F137).
          Cochran Family
6    F143 Portraits, c. 1850-1910
          Studios include J. Paul Brown, M. & W. Garrett, both of
          Wilmington, DE, Gutekunst, Philadelphia; Dana, New
          York, NY.
     F144 Thomas and Margaret Hardcastle Cochran, c. 1860-1910
          Contains 1 tintype; Dana “carbonette”; Carl,
          Washington, DC; two Cummings.
     F145 Cochran Sisters, (Estelle, Oka, Corinne), c. 1880s
     F146 Portraits, c. 1890
          Eight items, including four cyanotypes.
     F147 Cochran, Hardcastle, Pearson family gathering, c. 1900
          Eight items. Family members gathered on what is
          probably the back porch of the Cochran family home in
          Middletown, DE. One photo shows a domestic servant.
     F148 Extended Family Portraits and Snapshots, c. 1880s-1940s
     F149 Framed Portrait, undated
          Labeled on back, Cummings Studio, Wilmington, DE.
     F150 Home on Crawford Street, Middletown, 1908
     F151 Middletown Scenes, 1909-1914
          Contains photographs of blizzard of 1909-1910; children
          playing; students at Middletown Public School, 1914.
     F152 Warren Family Home, c. 1910
          Snapshots of interiors, domestic servants, pets.
     F153 Matlack, Outcalt, Cook Family Members, undated
     F154 Negatives, undated, poor condition
     F155 Miscellaneous
          Contains portraits and snapshots of unidentified
          people; several studio portraits including one signed
          “Wright & Cook” Philadelphia.
7         Oversize Box (.3 linear ft.)
          Oversize documents and photos removed from Boxes 1-6.
OS1  F156 Titanic, 1912
     F157 Paris-Soir, 1938
     F158 Engagement and Wedding of Pearson and Isabella Turner,
     F159 World War II
     F160 Pearson appointment as Judge Rodney’s Successor, 1946
     F161 Estelle Cochran Pearson Obituaries, 1947
     F162 Pearson Resignation from Judiciary, 1949
OS2       Oversize Mss Box
          Oversize material removed from Boxes 1-6.

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