The Drexel Legacy

The legacy of the Drexel family continues in the lives and memories of its members. The collections documenting the family at Drexel University help preserve its history.

Help us build the Drexel family archival collections 

Drexel University Archives collects written and visual materials that document the Drexel family and affiliated families. We are also interested in collecting materials documenting the people employed by or otherwise related to the family and Drexel & Co.

We are interested in donations of items such as the following: 

  • Letters, diaries, photographs, postcards, scrapbooks/albums, memoirs 
  • Legal documents and vital records such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and wills 
  • Diplomas, certificates, awards 
  • Documents related to education, work, and hobbies 
  • Home movies, videos, audiotapes 
  • Electronic records such as digital photos and emails 

If you have personal or family history materials that we might be interested in, or questions about donations, please contact us at:
Drexel University Archives, W.W. Hagerty Library, 3300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

The Drexel Family Committee

Written by Louis Farrelly, Chair of the Drexel Family Committee

The Drexel Family Committee was founded in 1973 by Philip Syng Physick Fell, father of Dorothy Mills Fell Farrelly, Elisabeth Horne Allen, Philip Syng Physick Fell, Jr., and Ogden Mills Fell. Its goal was to bring different members of the family together. In 1991, 450 members of the Drexel family met in Philadelphia to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Drexel University. The extensive celebration included receptions, dinners, classroom tours, a theatrical skit about Anthony J. Drexel performed by family members, and a special visit to the Convent of the Blessed Sacrament, founded by then-Mother Katharine Drexel, in Bensalem, Pa.

The University’s thorough planning included genealogically-oriented, color-coded name tags that immediately identified cousins and their place in the vast family tree with descendants’ branches displayed on surrounding walls. All attendees were delighted to meet many cousins from around the world and to learn about Anthony Drexel and his university.

An interim Chairman was Paul Ingersoll who, in 2000, led 230 Drexel family members to Rome for the Beatification of Saint Katharine Drexel, niece of Anthony J. Drexel. The pageantry of this three-day event was exciting and exhilarating, with the Vatican mounting a fantastic celebration for the newly canonized saints. The climax was a High Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in the Piazza of the Basilica of Saint Peter. Events in Rome included receptions and dinners for family members and guests of honor such as Amanda Amy Wall, the miracle child with undeveloped ear components who developed full hearing after years of family prayers and beseeching of Mother Katharine. Being introduced to this child hugging her teddy bear was the thrill of a lifetime and a highlight of the trip. Another interim Chairman was Nick Drexel (John R., IV), who for many years served on the Board of Drexel University.

In 2010 the Drexel Family Committee was relaunched by Louis Farrelly, Dodie Fell Farrelly, Tony Cadwalader, John Devereux, Francis Mills Ingersoll, Elizabeth Gowen Kuensell, Tom Paul, Wendy Drexel Paul, and Frances Cheston Train. Its Mission Statement: to raise the 300-plus family members’ level of awareness of the University’s history and its current achievements. In 2011, the Committee planned an exhibit of Drexel family art and artifacts which was mounted in the Drexel Gallery on campus. From the time of Francis Martin Drexel, the renowned portrait artist-turned banker, the family has a long and impressive legacy of creating, commissioning, and being memorialized in art. The permanent Drexel Collection includes several significant family-related pieces, which complimented the 2011 exhibit of art on loan from family members.

The Drexel Family Endowed Scholarship Fund, established in September 2014, enables a number of students to complete their degrees each year. The Scholarship Fund has allowed graduates to go on to successful careers. The fund was initially started by Paul Ingersoll in 2003. Each year the family is introduced to students and alumni scholarship awardees who speak of their plans and their careers and the impact the fund has had in their success.

The Scholarship Fund is administered by the Office of Institutional Advancement. Should you wish to be a part of this proud family tradition, please contact:

Grace Roth Beebe, Director, Gift Planning
Institutional Advancement
Drexel University
3141 Market St, S-310
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Office: 215.895.1248, Mobile: 302.250.2464

The Drexel Family Skit, 1991

Produced by and starring members of the Drexel family, this musical skit portrays Anthony J. Drexel and his family and business partners. This skit was produced for the 100th anniversary of Drexel’s founding in 1891 and was performed as part of university-wide celebrations on October 19, 1991. The emcee for the event is Livingston Ludlow Biddle, Jr.

Drexel Family Newsletter

The Drexel Family Committee publishes a semi-annual newsletter that details the activities of the descendants of Anthony J. Drexel and their affiliates. This newsletter gives readers a glimpse into the legacy of the Drexel family and brings together the lives of different family members. The Drexel Family Newsletters collection includes 10 years of digitized newsletters, spanning Winter 2010 to Winter 2020. Updates include the following:  

  • Drexel University news 
  • Profiles on Drexel family members—contemporary and historical 
  • Reports on family reunions and events 
  • Stories centered on the recipients of Drexel Family Scholarships 
  • Family histories and archival drawings, photographs, and items 

View the collection here!

The Drexel Legacy