Shareholder Spotlight: Julia Duhring (1836-1892)
Dana Dorman, Archivist, Library Company Papers Project
Image: Receipt for a Library Company share, 1733.
We continue our monthly “shareholder spotlight” series by taking a closer look at Share #782 and its eighth owner, Julia Duhring (1836-1892).
Shareholders have always been the backbone of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Starting with the first group of fifty tradesmen who formed the library in 1731, shareholders have provided crucial financial support each year for our mission to “pour forth benefits for the common good.”
We keep careful track of who has owned each historic share, and our list of 9,800+ shareholders includes signers of the Declaration and Constitution, merchants, doctors, soldiers, scientists, artists, philanthropists, politicians, and much more.
This share was first issued to Nathan Eyre (d. 1819) on August 4, 1796.
According to a newspaper advertisement in the Philadelphia Gazette the year before, Nathan’s business was based on Water Street (now covered by I-95). He was a “merchant tailor” according to the abstract of his will available on Ancestry.com, and he owned real estate in both Philadelphia and Camden, NJ.
The share next passed to likely relatives of Nathan’s: Elizabeth Eyre on Jan. 8, 1820 and Joseph K. Eyre on November 6, 1835.
The share then passed through five other owners before it was acquired by Julia Duhring (1836-1892) on October 7, 1870.
At the time she acquired her Library Company share, Julia was 34 years old and living with her parents Henry and Caroline Duhring at 1932 Spruce Street. She apparently never married. Her father passed away one year later, and by the 1880 U.S. census, she was living with younger brother Dr. Louis A. Duhring (1845-1913) at 1416 Spruce Street.
Her brother’s home was certainly a convenient location for visiting the Library Company’s new Juniper and Locust branch, which opened in February 1880 during Julia’s time as a shareholder. The new branch offered a ladies’ sitting room, as well as help from the library’s first woman “assistant,” Elisabeth McClellan (1851-1920).
Image: Women’s Room of the Juniper and Locust Street Building (Philadelphia, circa 1885). Albumen print.
We don’t know how often Julia visited the Library Company, but we do know that she wrote and published at least three books of essays: Philosophers and Fools: A Study (J. B. Lippincott Co., 1874), Gentlefolks and Others (J. B. Lippincott, 1876), and Amor in Society: A Study from Life (J. B. Lippincott, 1892).
Image: Title page from Julia Duhring, Gentlefolks and Others (J. B. Lippincott, 1876).
One review of Julia’s 1876 book published in the Press newspaper on July 27, 1876 included the barbed praise that it “exhibits a far greater extent of information and depth of thought than are generally found in the writings of lady authors.”
A fourth book, Mental Life and Culture: Essays and Sketches, Educational and Literary (J. B. Lippincott, 1893), was apparently published after her death. It lists Julia as author and her brother Louis as editor. By then, Louis was a noted professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania.
But Julia had relinquished her Library Company share a few years earlier, after 11 years of ownership. Share #782 passed to Clayton French (d. 1890) on April 7, 1881, and has been owned by 13 people in its history.
Not yet a shareholder?
Share #782 is currently available. We work hard to match potential shareholders with historic shares that match their interests, and we would love to match you with Julia Duhring’s share or another option. To learn more, reach out to our Development Office at email@example.com or 215-546-3181 ext. 142.