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Pursel Family Music Autograph Collection

Identifier: SC MS 0298

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection includes many invoices of autograph purchases addressed to Harold Pursel of Philadelphia. Among the many invoices are also handwritten notes of historical nature about the composers whose autographs are being invoiced or displayed in the exhibition. Also many lists of autographs purchased and some which were to be included in the exhibition at Lehigh from May 1967 to November 1967 according to correspondences with Francis J. Quirk, Director of Exhibitions at Lehigh. Lehigh has only a few original autographs, some musical scores and several photographs which are a part of the Pursel Family Collection. All the composers, musicians, correspondents, photographs, performers are listed as they appear to have been of interest to the Pursels.


  • 1906-01-01 - 1971-12-31


Access Restrictions

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Use Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

Please inquire about copyright information.

Historical / Biographical Note

Harold R. Pursel and his brother, Robert N. Pursel from Danville, Pennsylvania had a hobby of collecting autographs of composers and musicians of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries. The Pursel Family Documents contain many invoices of purchases of autographs and in a very few cases musical score manuscripts, autographed photographs and correspondence with Francis J. Quirk, Director of Exhibitions for Lehigh. Apparently these autographs were not donated to Lehigh but various purchase invoices were. Among the documents also included are historical notes about planned purchases, a 1965 exhibit competition in which Mr. Pursel won an engraved silver Revere bowl awarded by a 1921 classmate Ralph L. Wilson and a 1967 exhibition at Lehigh of the Pursels’ original framed autographs. Two other Lehigh alumni who collected presidential and opera personality autographs had some of their collections included with the Pursel collection. This event occurred from May 1967 to November 1967 coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the Bach Festival at Lehigh University May 1967. Harold Reinhardt Pursel was a Secretary of the Mechanical Engineering Society, a member of Theta Xi, a graduate of Mercerburg Academy and entered Lehigh University in Fall 1915 but left in Spring 1917 to enter World War I as Uncle Sam’s “dirty engineer” after two years in France he returned to Lehigh University to finish the degree in 1921as a member of the Mechanical Engineering class of 1921. He became a manager of the Hydraulic Division of Beaumont Birch Company in Philadelphia and resided in Philadelphia close to the autograph dealers. Robert Newton Pursel was from the Mining Engineering class graduating in 1927 was a chairman of the Industrial Development Corporation of Danville and resided in Danville. Harold, Robert with Catherine and Elizabeth together owned the original composer autographs which were framed and displayed in their home in Danville according to a written statement by Harold R. Pursel which leads to a speculation that they are Pursel Family siblings.


.5 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



This collection includes famous composers and musicians autographs and related invoices of purchases addressed to Harold Pursel and family. An interesting view into a family hobby of collecting autographs from famous Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century musicians.

Arrangement of the Collection

Divided into 6 series and arranged the composers and musicians alphabetically by last name, and invoices and receipts chronologically.

Acquisition Information


Related Material

Lehigh Archives has a digital collection of original autographs in a filed named “I Remain.”



Eleanor Nothelfer
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Special Collections, Lehigh University Libraries

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)