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September 23, 2014

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John Edgar Thomson Foundation
Updated On: Jun 07, 2012

A Helping Hand—
The Thomson Foundation

Financial Assistance for Daughters of  Deceased Railroad Employees

John Edgar Thomson was the third president of the Pennsylvania Railroad and led the company from 1852 to 1874. Although John Thomson never had children of his own, he often pondered on the difficulties of orphaned girls. In that era, a fatherless boy could usually get a trade school education or find employment; a girl had little opportunity for either.

In his will, Mr. Thomson dedicated a portion of his estate in the form of a trust fund for the education and maintenance of female orphans of railway employees whose fathers may have died while in the discharge of their duties. After his death in 1874, the trust fund was established for the daughters of men killed in railroad service. Subsequently, The John Edgar Thomson Foundation was founded when Mrs. Thomson opened a girl’s boarding
school in Philadelphia, in December of 1882.

Today, the Foundation continues its objective by providing aid to a substantial number of girls throughout the United States in the form of financial assistance and healthcare benefits. To be eligible, the employee must have been actively employed by any United States railroad at the time of his or her death; the cause does not need to be work related. Eligibility is also dependent on the daughter and the surviving parent remaining unmarried. Family income and expenses are also considered when determining eligibility.

The monthly allowance made under the grant may cover the period from infancy to high school graduation, and in some circumstances to age 24, to assist the grantees that are pursuing a higher education. The Foundation also offers special healthcare benefits.

Funding for the work of the Foundation is completely independent of any railroad. It neither solicits nor receives funds from the public.

Further information and applications may be obtained by writing to:

Sheila Cohen, Director
The John Edgar Thomson Foundation
201 S. Eighteenth Street, Suite 318
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Telephone: (215) 545-6083
Fax: (215) 545-5102
Toll free: (800) 888-1278
Email: sjethomson@aol.com


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