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

Language: English

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, PaA 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.

Resources Used:

“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.

Collections Scope:

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.

Collection Arrangement:

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. 

Related Material:

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. 

Collections Contents:

Series 1: Research

Box 1:

Chester County Churches

  1. Baptist Churches
  2. Methodist Churches
  3. Presbyterian Churches
  4. Society of Friends “Quaker” Meetings
  5. West Chester Churches

Chester County History

  1. Newspapers
  2. West Chester (Early Buildings)
  3. Turks Head
  4. East Bradford Township
  5. Westtown Township
  6. Chester County Private Schools
  7. Chester County Industries
  8. Chester County Lands
  9. Chester County Typography
  10. Chester County Prices
  11. Chester County Arts and Crafts
  12. Chester County General History

Chester County Organizations

  1. Brandywine Valley Association
  2. Chester County Historical Society
  3. Home Cluster Organization
  4. Banks of Chester County
  5. Chester County Courthouse

Note: Courthouse photos were photocopied and taken out of the folder. See Photo Archives for originals.

Clocks and Clockmakers

  1. Clocks and Clockmakers Research Material/Notes
  2. Thomas Wagstaffe Clocks

Covered Bridges

  1. Covered Bridges Research Material/Notes

Paper Mills (Migrating to Paper Mills Series)

  1. Currier & Ives Printmakers
  2. Paper Mill Research Material
  3. Delaware County Paper Mills
  4. Paper Mills of Chester County, Pennsylvania Manuscripts Pt. 1- Pt. 10.

Other Mills/Forges

  1. Grist Mills
  2. Woolen and Cotton Mills
  3. Chester County Mills
  4. Iron Works

Pottery and Pewter

  1. Birmingham Pottery
  2. Pottery Maps
  3. Pewter and Silversmiths

Minor Publications/Notes

  1. Two folders of publications
  2. Chemistry History lecture notes
  3. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education Reprint: 1955

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

Box 2:

Currier & Ives Research

Technical Articles

CCHS Articles

CCHS Genealogical Research

  1. Brinton Family
  2. Pennock Family
  3. Letters of Genealogical Interest

Personal Genealogical Research

  1. James Family Genealogy & Heirlooms
  2. Jefferis Family Genealogy
  3. Cope Family Genealogy

James Family Correspondences

  1. Letters to Mary H. Cope, 1885-1939


  1. James Family Will
  2. Land Deeds
  3. Jefferis Family Land deeds/other financial manuscripts (will need card for card catalog)

Prominent Chester County Residents

  1. Famous Chester County Sons
  2. Dr. William Darlington
  3. David Townsend
  4. Humphrey Marshall
  5. Dr. Evan Pugh
  6. Dr. Rose
  7. Nathaniel Hickman
  8. Dickey Family
  9. George Brinton McClennan
  10. Marshal Family
  11. William Everhart
  12. Hickman
  13. Embree
  14. Worth
  15. Morris Family Letters

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

Box 7:

  1. Arthur E. James 1955-1956 Diaries
  2. Alma James Diary (loose pages)
  3. More Diaries of Alma James and loose Arthur James notes

Series 4: Arthur E. James Family Diaries, 1858-1949

Boxes 8-10:

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

  1. Paper Making and Paper Mills in Chester County: Manuscripts and Publication Materials.
  2. Paper Mills of Chester County, Pennsylvania Manuscript: Publication, Photostats, Research Material.
  3. Paper Mill Research Material.
  4. Arthur E. James Letters and Notes.
  5. Delaware County Paper Mills Research.
  6. Paper Making and Paper Mills in Chester County: History, Research, Notes, etc.
  7. Paper Mills in Chester and Delaware Counties: Research Notes.

Box 12: Watersheds B-D

  1. 2 folders of Paper Mills, Chester County: Big Elk Creek.
  2. Paper Mills, Chester County: Brandywine Creek at Downingtown.
  3. Paper Mills, Chester County: Buck Run.
  4. Paper Mills, Chester County: Christiana Creek, White Clay Creek, Red Clay Creek.
  5. Paper Mills, Chester County: Dennis Run.

Box 13: Watersheds E-L

  1. 5 folders of Paper Mills, Chester County: East Branch of Brandywine
  2. Paper Mills, Chester County: Little Elk Creek

Box 14: Watersheds N-S

  1. North East Creek Paper Mills
  2. 2 folders on Octorara Creek Paper Mills
  3. Pequa Creek Paper Mills
  4. Red Clay Creek Paper Mills
  5. 2 folders on Ridley Creek Paper Mills
  6. 2 folders on Schuykill River and its tributaries: Paper Mills

Box 15: Watersheds W-V

  1. 3 folders on main West Branch of Brandywine Paper Mills
  2. West Branch of Brandywine Tributary: Buck Run Paper Mills
  3. West Branch of Brandywine Tributary: Buck Run and Doe Run Paper Mills
  4. White Clay Creek Paper Mills
  5. Valley Creek Paper Mills

Box 16: Paper Maker Publications, 1951-1970

  1. Volume 20, 1951.
  2. Volume 21, 1952.
  3. Volume 26, 1957.
  4. Volume 28, 1959.
  5. Volume 29, 1960.
  6. 3 copies of Volume 36, 1967.
  7. Volume 37, 1968.
  8. Volume 39, 1976.
  9. Copy of Dr. James’s article in Volume 39.

Series 6: Miscellaneous

Box 17:

  1. “Odds & Ends”
  2. Fox hunting
  3. Lincoln University
  4. Original Folders and Envelopes used by Dr. James for Paper Mill Research.
  5. True Miscellaneous