Collections - Chester County History Center

Collections

Chester County History Center

About Our Library

Throughout its history, CCHC’s library has collected materials documenting the diversity of the county from the 1680s to the present. The library houses collections of printed volumes (25,000), and manuscripts (500,000), including family name document files, letters, diaries, personal papers, business and organizational records, pamphlets, broadsides, and newspapers. 

Hours

Morning/afternoon sessions
Thurs. – Sat. (9:30 – 12:30 pm and 1:30 – 4:30 pm)
Appointments preferred, walk-ins welcome (closed 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM)

Contact

610-692-4800 x221

Email

Library@chestercohistorical.org

Books and Periodicals

The Library’s collection includes over 25,000 volumes of books and periodicals. Books include family genealogies; county every-name indexes; and local, county, and state histories for Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. We also have a large collection of Chester County authors, local military history, and material culture/decorative arts (furniture, fabric arts, toys, silver, etc.).

Some of the titles in our periodical collection include:

    • National Genealogical Society Quarterly
    • Pennsylvania Genealogical Society
    • Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
    • Pennsylvania History Magazine
    • Tredyffrin-Easttown History Club Quarterly
    • Historical Review of Berks County
    • Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society
    • Historical Society of Montgomery County Bulletin
    • Delaware History
    • Maryland Historical Magazine
    • New Jersey Historical Society Proceedings
    • New England Historical and Genealogical Register

Census

S. Federal Census records:

    • Pennsylvania indexes, 1790-1880, 1900-1930
    • Chester County microfilm, 1790-1930
    • Delaware County microfilm, 1850-1930
    • Lancaster County microfilm, 1850-1870
    • Montgomery County microfilm (partial), 1850-1920
    • Berks County microfilm, 1850-1920
    • Bucks County microfilm, 1820-1920
    • Philadelphia microfilm

Pennsylvania Septennial Census (digital copies, 1793-1870)

    • State census of taxable adults (usual males of legal age) taken every seven years for most townships (1800, 1807, 1814, etc.) It includes an alphabetical list of names and some occupations, and it was used to calculate local representation at the state level. 

Manuscripts and Genealogy

  • Manuscripts spanning three centuries of county history include letters, diaries, business and organization records, land/legal documents, family charts, records of burials and marriages, and family genealogies.
  • Materials are arranged by format (account books, diaries, scrapbooks, etc.), subject (Cemetery, Church, Family Files, Schools, etc.), and donor (Marwood Darlington Genealogical Research Collection).
  • Many of the family papers and organizational records have finding aids that describe the history of the manuscripts and provide an inventory of the materials in the collection. Included in these collections are materials that document the history of local families, businesses, organizations, and the history of women, African Americans, Civil War soldiers, immigrants, Quakers, and the many others who call Chester County home.

Maps

  • The map collection includes the Witmer (1873) and Breou (1883) atlases for all townships. Additional railroad atlases provide coverage for most of the county dating from the 1890s to 1930s.  Many of these maps include names of property owners, and most maps are organized by township.

 

  • Additional earlier and later maps of the entire county and some surrounding areas are also available.  

Newspapers

Clippings File: characterized as “one of the state’s best,” it was begun in the 1930s by CCHS volunteers and fills over 150 file drawers. The file contains articles clipped from over 40 Chester County newspapers and dates from 1810-1970.

    • Family Surname: arranged alphabetically by last name, first initial and includes obituaries, birth/marriage announcements, etc.
    • Township: arranged by township/borough and alphabetically by topic (churches, businesses, history, maps, etc.)
    • County: arranged by subject headings that apply to the entire county (public offices and organizations) or to more than one township (creeks, military, etc.)

 

Microfilms: the Library’s collection includes the following papers on microfilm:

    • American Republican (West Chester), 1858-1876
    • American Weekly Mercury, 1719-1746
    • Avondale Herald, 1896-1939
    • Chester and Delaware Federalist (West Chester), 1809-1817
    • Coatesville Record, 1908-1993
    • Daily Local News (West Chester), 1872-
    • Downingtown Archive, 1877-1974
    • Jeffersonian (West Chester), 1843-1910
    • Oxford Press, 1866-1977
    • Phoenixville papers, ca. 1871-1994
    • Village Record (West Chester), 1818-1916
  • Our manuscript collections provide information on many aspects of local history. Collection guides provide contextual information about the collection and an inventory of the collection's contents.

 

 

  • Topical Collection Guides
    • [Include an accordion list of the topical guides]

 

  • [Include an alpha index to all finding aids]
    • Example: A | B | C | D | E | F | etc…

Research Services

  • Document Copy Request Service - $10
    • Provides scanned copies of a specific document or file. Consult our online catalog and collection guides to identify a call number or manuscript number for the document(s) you wish to request.  This service does not include research performed by Library staff.
    • Email your research request to Library@chestercohistorical.org for a PayPal link.
    • If the total number of pages exceeds 15 pages, an additional charge of $.50 per page will apply.

 

  • Basic Research Service - $15
    • Provides scanned copies of relevant material in response to a basic research request, including requests on an event, business, organization, obituary, etc.
    • When requesting research, provide all information you have on the event or entity to ensure we retrieve the correct information. This service is limited to manuscripts in the CCHC Library and does not include information on the genealogy of an individual or property history.
    • Email your research request to Library@chestercohistorical.org for a PayPal link.
    • If the total number of pages exceeds 20 pages, an additional charge of $.50 per page will apply.

 

  • Genealogical Research Service - $30 prepayment
    • Provides the researcher with basic information and resources pertaining to a specific individual, as well as recommendations and copies of relevant records found. Note that we will not attempt to construct a line of descent.  This search references resources available in the CCHC collections.
    • You may request a search for more than one person, but each will require a $30 prepayment ($25 for CCHC members).
    • Download the following form and provide detail when appropriate, as this information ensures that we locate the correct person and reference a variety of relevant record types: [link to form]
    • Email your research request to Library@chestercohistorical.org for a PayPal link.
    • If the total number of pages exceeds 20 pages, an additional charge of $.50 per page will apply. Please allow up to six weeks for the return of results.

 

  • Postal Mail Research Service
    • Research services are also available via postal mail.
      • Document Copy Request: $10
      • Basic Research: $15
      • Genealogical Research: $30 ($25 with CCHC membership)
    • In your letter, indicate 1) the type of research service you are requesting and 2) describe the manuscript materials and their call number/manuscript number. If you are requesting Genealogy Research, download the form and include it in your request: [link to form]
    • Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope along with a check or money order payable to Chester County History Center for each document requested.
    • If the total number of pages exceeds 20 pages, a librarian will contact you and an additional charge of $.50 per page will apply. Checks are cashed upon project completion, usually within 6 to 8 weeks.

 

  • Property Research Services
    • CCHC does not provide property research services to distance researchers. We recommend property researchers begin their search by developing their chain of title with county government offices.  After working with county offices to build chain of title, visit us in person at CCHC to review our maps, newspaper clippings, and other land-related materials.
    • For more information on establishing your chain of title, please consult the following resources:
      • CCA Guide [link]
      • CCA YouTube video [link]
  • Photocopy Fees:
    • Letter and legal-size pages: $.25
    • Ledger-size pages: $.50
    • Color letter and legal-size pages: $1.00
    • Color ledger-size pages: $2.00
  • Camera fees
    • Researchers may take an unlimited number of images with a camera, phone, or tablet. Camera licensing does not apply to the historical photograph collection.
      • One-day camera license: $5
      • Annual camera license (CCHC members): $24