Welcome to the Drexel Family Digital Archive

When Francis Martin Drexel came to Philadelphia in 1817 he intended to make his living as a painter, as he had during a tumultuous youth spent avoiding French military conscription in his native Austria. In 1837 he changed his family’s fortune forever when he began to focus all of his efforts into a currency brokerage firm. The success of the firm grew as Francis and Catherine Hookey Drexel raised their six children in Philadelphia. Under the direction of their son Anthony, Drexel & Co. would become one of the most lucrative private banks of the 19th century.

This digital archive and exhibit explores the context and influence of the Drexel family. Stories of family members and the people surrounding them are shared using archival material and objects preserved by Drexel University collections. While the Drexels’ wealth and status derives from the success of the family business, it is a dedicated interest in philanthropy, education, and the arts that defines the legacy of this Philadelphia family.

The Drexel Family Digital Archive was created by the Drexel University Archives with contributions from the Drexel Collection, the Fox Historic Costume Collection, and the Archives of the Academy of Natural Sciences. Learn more about the project.

Navigating the site

The arrow navigation at the bottom of each page will guide you through the exhibit, while the menu at the right and connections throughout allow for self-directed discovery. Watch a site demo given by archives staff.

Users can choose browsing options and perform an advanced search for all items on this site by selecting "Browse Exhibit Items" at the top of this page.

The bold item in the right-hand menu shows you where the current page is located within the site.

Select a recent addition below to learn more about the item: