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Collection Scope and Content Notes


Edith "Darling" Dennison Darlington Ammon (1862-1919) was an important figure among Pittsburgh's social elite during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She was a well-traveled amateur photographer who played an active role in organizing and leading political and social events.

Edith grew up at Guyasuta and later studied at the Pittsburgh Female College, now known as Chatham University. After a formative trip to Europe with her family, she married Samuel Ammon in 1890, whose proposal she had previously rejected or deferred ten years earlier. Edith and Samuel had no children.

Edith served for several years as the president of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) of Allegheny County, and by 1908 she was leading the third largest DAR chapter in the United States. As president, Edith commanded the battle to preserve the Block House, one of the first structures of Fort Pitt built during the French and Indian War in 1764, from destruction by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. The DAR also led a campaign against Henry Frick when he planned to relocate the Block House to present day Schenley Park. The Block House remains the oldest building in western Pennsylvania. In addition to her work with the DAR, Edith served alongside H. J. Heinz as co-vice president of the 1908 general committee for Pittsburgh's sesquicentennial events.

This series contains the many letters Edith wrote to her childhood friend and Pittsburgh Female College classmate, Mittie Hemphill, while Edith traveled with her family in Europe from 1881 to 1882. As a woman in her early twenties, Edith writes from each destination, describing the hotels where she and her family stayed, fellow guests, transit, and her experiences passing through customs. Her letters detail sightseeing, particularly art galleries and churches, and her father's research endeavors at the British Museum. Of particular note are Edith's descriptions of archaeological sites in Italy and Egypt, the Salon de Paris, and her distaste for the famous Whistler paintings on display in London. Edith collected or created souvenirs, photographs and artwork during her travels, including a framed photograph of herself at the Temple of Iris in Pompeii, Italy. Mittie's letters describe events in Pittsburgh, including the health of Edith's dogs at Guyasuta and activities of mutual acquaintances in Pittsburgh, among them Minnie Renshaw, Kate McKnight, and Edith's aunt, Helen Evans. In one letter, Mittie mentions Edith's indignation that Samuel Ammon had not waited the appropriate two month grieving period before having a party; the name of the deceased is not mentioned.

Materials related to Edith's involvement in the DAR include an article she wrote for the Pittsburgh Bulletin, and a letter from Thomas P. Roberts regarding the renovations to Fort Pitt co-sponsored by the Fort Pitt Society and the DAR. The collection also includes a letter from Sydney Liggett in response to Edith's request for information about the Sharp family, and a letter from Edith's husband, Samuel A. Ammon, to Mrs. Mary Echler regarding the possession of the Whitaker graveyards. Records of Edith's stocks and bonds, and two copies of a bound volume listing the properties she inherited from her mother's estate are also present.


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