Collection Title: Arthur E. James Collection
Collection Number: 202
Dates of Collection: 1858-1987, bulk 1940s-1970s
Box Numbers: 1-17
Repositiory: Chester County Historical Society
Project Archivist: Seth Wheeler, Intern
Arthur E. James was a Chester County historian. He wrote four local history books that include A History of Birmingham Township, Chester County, Pa; A History of East Bradford Township, Chester County, Pa.; The Story of 13 N. High Street; and A History of Westtown Twp., Chester County, Pa. He lectured extensively on many different topics concerning Chester County and also authored Potters and Potteries of Chester County in 1945, Chester County Clocks and Their Makers in 1947, and Covered Bridges of Chester County in 1976. In addition to his lectures and publications, Dr. James performed genealogical research on prominent Chester County families, being born and raised at Elmsley Farm, East Bradford Township to Mary Cope and J. Edwin James. As a lifelong resident of the county, his genealogical research focused on the James family and its connections to many notable families that include the Jefferis and Copes. Dr. James stayed active in county historical circles for most of his life, remaining a lifetime member and serving as president of CCHS from 1951 to 1967.
Before he became a historian, Dr. James started as a prolific scholar in the academic community. Dr. James graduated from Westtown Friends School in 1915 and Penn State University in 1921. He earned his master’s in education from University of Pennsylvania in 1924 and Ph.D. in chemistry from Cornell University in 1933. Dr. James started teaching chemistry at Lincoln University, where he worked from 1921 to 1937. In 1937, Dr. James moved on to Temple University’s School of Pharmacy and became chairman of the chemistry department. Before he retired in 1961, Dr. James remained active in chemical and pharmaceutical research, presenting numerous papers at professional meetings. In the 1950s, he became a Fulbright professor in chemistry at the University of Peshawar in Pakistan. Travelling with his wife, Alma James, Dr. James toured the country after completing his time at Peshawar and briefly stopped in other countries that include India and Japan.
In addition to his work at the university and as a writer and researcher, Dr. James remained an outstanding citizen of the academic and local community. Dr. James was a member of the Westtown Friends School Committee for 29 years and went on to serve in the Executive and General Committee from 1948 to 1963. In addition, he supported numerous organizations that include the American Chemical Society, the Pennsylvania Academy of Science, Home Cluster, the Brinton Family Association, and the Society of Friends. Thus, he stayed active a participant in various activities throughout the community and especially became involved in researching the history of Chester County organizations and churches.
“Arthur E. James Ph.D of West Chester”. Daily Local News. August 9, 1989. Newspaper Clippings Collection. Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA.
St. George, Donna. “Arthur E. James, 92, chemistry professor.” Philadelphia Inquirer. August 10, 1989. Newspaper Clippings Collection. Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA.
The collection consists of research material, manuscripts for publications, and diaries belonging to Arthur E. James or his predecessors. The vast majority of the collection comprises either his published works or genealogical research about Chester County and its prominent local families. His major research on Chester County includes notes on topics such as covered bridges, clocks, paper mills, pottery, and pewter. The genealogical research consists of his work with CCHS and his extensive ties to the local families. Researchers will find a great deal about Dr. James’s life, work, accomplishments, and travels abroad.
The collection is organized by topic and divided by series. These series include A.E.J’s historical and genealogical research, his diaries, and his family’s diaries. The size of the series depends on the topic. The Paper Mills Series is organized by individual boxes and separated by three different categories: Research, Watersheds, and Paper Maker Publications. The Watersheds are in alphabetical order. Also included in the Paper Mill Series is Dr. James’s map of Chester County on paper mill operations.
Photographs that Arthur E. James used for his research resides in the Photo Archives, see DN 39 in the Photo Archives Donor Collection Inventories guide for more details. For more materials regarding Dr. James’ time at CCHS, please visit the institution archives.
Click to visit the Chester County Paper Mills for a interactive map.
Series 1: Research
Chester County Churches
Chester County History
Chester County Organizations
Note: Courthouse photos were photocopied and taken out of the folder. See Photo Archives for originals.
Clocks and Clockmakers
Paper Mills (Migrating to Paper Mills Series)
Pottery and Pewter
Note: All of the Photographs in the Paper Mills section were taken out of this section. Photostats stayed in the collection. See Photo Archives for original photographs.
Series 1: Research
Currier & Ives Research
CCHS Genealogical Research
Personal Genealogical Research
James Family Correspondences
Prominent Chester County Residents
Series 2: A.E.J. Diaries
Box 3-6: Diaries of Arthur E. James, 1934-1987
Box 3: 1934-1948
Box 4: 1949-1966
Box 5: 1967-1981
Box 6: 1982-1987
Note: Does not include 1955-1956 diaries. For these diaries, see the Pakistan Travel Diaries.
Series 3: Pakistan Travel Diaries, 1955-1956
Series 4: Arthur E. James Family Diaries, 1858-1949
Box 8: Diaries of J. Evans James and William C. Cope. Evans Years: 1920-22. 1927-1931. 1932. Cope Years: 1858, 1859, 1861.
Box 9: Diaries of Mary Hugh Cope James and Account book of Lauretta P. James. Diaries years: 1935-1936, 1945, 1945-1947, 1949. Account book date: 1902-1904.
Box 10: Diaries of J. Edwin James. Years: 1918-1922, 1923-1928, 1929-1933, 1934-1936.
Series 5: Paper Mills
Paper Mills in Chester County Map
NOTE: Dr. James used a map of Chester County to mark the locations of the paper mills. Hence, the paper mill collection relies on that map to provide clarity with Dr. James’s Paper Mill research. This map contains significant information on the historical paper mill operations in the region, such as the locations and type of companies. If researchers wish to see it, please ask the librarian to bring it out from the Chester County Maps shelf in the Oversize Collections.
Box 11: Research
Box 12: Watersheds B-D
Box 13: Watersheds E-L
Box 14: Watersheds N-S
Box 15: Watersheds W-V
Box 16: Paper Maker Publications, 1951-1970
Series 6: Miscellaneous