Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. John Gordon

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Kenzer


"The Robert W. Ryerss Museum and Library: A Case Study in Upper Class Philanthropy in Late Victorian Philadelphia" looks at the philanthropy of the Robert W. Ryerss family in Gilded Age Philadelphia. It places the Ryerss family within the spectrum of philanthropic spirit and activity that swept upper class Philadelphia in the late nineteenth century and analyzes the unique act of creating a public library and museum out of a private home within the context of the larger trend of scientific giving and museum foundation that characterized this era. Historical scholarship is extremely limited about this particular class of donor because most researchers have chosen to focus on the prolific philanthropists of the age or on the grass-roots charitable organization societies. This study will aid future historians assembling a more complete look at upper class American philanthropy at the end of the nineteenth century.