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Girdler Family Records

Identifier: SC MS 0247

Scope and Contents

The earliest date of the material is 1783 which is a sermon printed in Boston. The latest date is 1995 which is correspondence Mr. Girdler had with various persons including a third cousin, Mrs. Winnifred “Win” Pierce, Vernon L. Girdler and Mrs. George B. Girdler who were involved with the genealogical searches. There is original nineteenth and twentieth century correspondence, some photographs, books and printed articles but perhaps the greatest interests are the transcribed nineteenth century ship logs and the family trees.


  • 1783 to 1995
  • Majority of material found within 1802 to 1915


Conditions Governing Access

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

Conditions Governing Use

Collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Robert Mercer Girdler BS ’39, the creator of this genealogical record was a member of the Lehigh Class of 1939 graduating with a BS in Chemical Engineering. He served as a consultant to Dupont’s Savannah River Plant in Aiken, South Carolina and president of Omnitronics, Inc. also in Aiken, South Carolina. Other members of the Girdler Family graduating from Lehigh included Dr. Tom Mercer Girdler ’01 (1901), Tom M. Girdler, Jr. ’33, ’55 ENGR, Joseph H. Girdler ’30 BS, Louis Tracy Girdler ’03 (1903), Louis Tracy Girdler, Jr. ’41. Lehigh’s Packer Hall/University Center has a student art gallery named for Tom Girdler.


2 boxes ; 1 linear foot

Language of Materials



An extensive collection of correspondence, information and genealogical searches made by current family members to trace ancestors into the Seventeenth Century when it is believed the first of the Girdlers came to the American colonies. The early ancestors settled in Marblehead, Essex County, Massachusetts and were involved in the mariner trade as sailors, masters and captains of merchant ships. Perhaps the most famous was Lewis Girdler, master of the “Betsy” who was a licensed privateer during the War of 1812. The Girdler Family members married into many other seafaring families of Massachusetts. Transcriptions of ship logs and various Massachusetts family letters are included.


A family member of Mr. Girdler, the creator, turned over to Lehigh a box of files. No attempt was made to alter his method of filing and sorting of the genealogical material as he gathered it. The box of material had files of original documents such as letters, photographs, transcripts of ship logs from the nineteenth century and genealogical family trees created in the twentieth century. As the material was cataloged, items were placed in archival folders but the filing pattern was returned to the original format established by Mr. Girdler. Mrs. Winnefred “Win” Poland Pierce (Mrs. Roy Pierce) his main collaborator is his “third cousin once removed.” She collected much of the genealogical material and passed it on to Robert M. Girdler.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated March 29, 2011 by a member of the Girdler Family

Related Materials

Lehigh University has a ships letter for the schooner “Betsy” a merchant ship on a route from Marblehead, Massachusetts to Martinique captained by Lewis Girdler. This ships letter dated 1807 has original signatures of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

Daughters of the American Revolution. ‘Lineage Book.” National Society of the Daughters if the American Revolution, v. 38, p. 88, #37245. Lindsey, Benjamin J. 1915. “Old Marblehead Sea Captains and the Ships in Which They Sailed.” Marblehead Historical Society, 137 pp.

Separated Materials

Filed separately is an original document known as a ships letter for the schooner “Betsy” captained by Lewis Girdler. The “Betsy” was a privateer in the War of 1812. In 1812, Lewis Girdler sailed “Betsy” into British waters and was captured by the British with the ship lost and Lewis Girdler a prisoner of war in England. He eventually was returned to Marblehead in the middle of 1813. Some of this history is elaborated on in the Robert M. Girdler genealogical search.

Lindsey, Benjamin J. (1842-19??) Old Marblehead sea captains and the ships in which they sailed. Marblehead Historical Society. 1915. 137 p. Filed in SC 623.622

Ilhan Citak and Eleanor Nothelfer
December 5, 2012
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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)