Historical Note


Because of their successful efforts on behalf of the 1876 Exhibition, the Women's Centennial Executive Committee was invited in March 1883 by the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art to become associated with the Board. This group of women, organized at that time as the Committee of Charities, became the Associate Committee of Women to the Board of Trustees. The museum's School of Industrial Art became the committee's chief benefactor of its fund-raising events and endowment fund drives.

Hannah Ann Zell was an active member in both women's organizations. She was involved with the Centennial Committee, which was formally organized in May 1873, no later than March 1876, when she was elected chairman of the 22nd Ward. She was an active member of the Museum's Associate Committee until approximately 1905, and remained an honorary member for the next six years, until she died at the age 91. Born January 17, 1820 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hannah Ann Zell lived out her life in Germantown, a suburb of the city. During the Civil War, she served as a nurse and was secretary of the Field Hospital Association. She also participated in the Great Central Fair for the U.S. Sanitary Commission, held in Philadelphia in June 1864 to raise funds for Union soldiers. In addition to her work with the Centennial and Associate Committees, Ms. Zell was also an advocate for libraries, and took part in establishing 16 facilities. Along with her sister Jane, Ms. Zell founded the Germantown Library and Historical Society in 1864 in order to offer residents a general public library. At the time, the Quaker Friends Library did not offer works of fiction or popular magazines. Ms. Zell served as its president until her death. She was also a vice president of the Site and Relic Society, precursor to the present-day Germantown Historical Society.

Works Consulted

Stackhouse, Eugene Glenn. "Hannah Ann Zell (1820-1911)." Germantown crier 2 (fall 2005): 54.

Hannah Ann Zell Scrapbook. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Includes undated clipping "From the women, by the women," regarding Germantown library.

Report of the Associate Committee of Women, 1910-1911. 35th Annual Report (Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art) (Year ending May 31, 1911):57-59.

The report of the Trustees. Eighth Annual Report (Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art) (Year ending Dec. 31, 1883).