The Photo Archives collections provides a window into the past. More than 100,000 historical photographs from the 1840s to the 1900s document the people, landscapes, businesses, organizations, and events in the Southeastern Pennsylvania region.
Search highlights using the guides and indexes on the Collections Guides page. Or click on the PastPerfect database. Onsite visitors can view actual historical photographs or refer to a selection of photographs at the digital viewing station in the reading room.
To learn more, refer to the FAQ’s.
Due to staffing and space limitations, we are unable to accept all of the objects, manuscripts, and images that may be offered to the collection.
CCHC offers quality reproductions for study, display, publication and for commercial uses.
Read the CCHC Reproduction Policy Statement and consult the Fee Schedules below before ordering your reproduction. All work is performed by CCHC staff.
Orders may be placed in person, by telephone, or sent via email. All orders must be prepaid by check, cash, Mastercard or Visa or through PayPal for the work to begin.
Permission to reproduce photographs for publication or commercial uses must be requested in writing using the Image Order and Permission Request Form. Permission is granted for non-exclusive, one time use at the discretion of CCHC. The user of supplied reproductions assumes all responsibility for using them in conformity to existing copyright laws.
Fees and Order Forms:
The Photo Archives welcomes research inquiries if you can’t find what you need on the Photo Search page or on the PastPerfect database. Contact the Photo Archivist for assistance at [email protected] or 610-692-4800 x260
In-Depth Research requests for publications, films or commercial projects:
WARNING CONCERNING COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS: The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyright material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted works. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” the user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept an order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law. The granting of permission to publish by the Society does not absolve users of materials from securing permission from copyright owners and payment of such additional fees as the owners may require if the Society does not own copyright or if the material is not in the public domain. Applicants assume all responsibility for questions of copyright and invasion of privacy that may arise in copying and in the use of the photographic copy.
The Photo Archives collection can be searched through inventories, indexes, and the PastPerfect database.
1850s – 1990s: these photographs are arranged by topical headings from the LC Thesaurus for Graphic Materials, and subdivided by location.
1850s – Present: Self-indexing files of portrait photographs by family name. Some noteworthy portraits include: Samuel Barber, Buffalo Bill Cody, Dr. William Darlington, MD, Madame Louise Homer, Brevet Major General Galusha Pennypacker, Dr. Ann Preston, Horace Pippin and Bayard Taylor.
Format collections include historic processes such as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, stereographs, crayon photographs, photographic jewelry, oversize photographs and other unique processes.
The Every-Name portrait index is a merged listing of seven portrait format collections. They include daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes or ferrotypes, cartes-de-visite, cabinet cards and the portrait file. These listings give access to photographic portraits made between 1840 and 1990. There are other sources for portraits in the CCHC collection that are not represented on this list.
Work produced by a professional or amateur photographer who worked or lived in Chester County, Pennsylvania. CCHC holds 59 collections. See below for featured collections:
Amateur photographer documents life on Spring Hope Farm in E. Fallowfield, a paper bag factory and Timicula Railroad Station, 1982-1917.
Sites of historical significance in Oxford, Valley Forge and the Brandywine Valley, ca. 1900.
Businesses, farms and dwellings in the northwestern section of Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1895-1908.
Noted Historian and genealogist, Gilbert Cope took over 2,400 views from 1887 – 1918 documenting Chester County landscape, families and Quaker community.
Features glass plate negatives taken with the Stirn’s Detective Camera of ordinary activity on the streets of West Chester in 1888.
This commercial photographer documents area businesses and organizations, 1947-1961.
a sampling of this professional photographer’s work, which he donated to the society before his death, includes portrait photographs 1948 – 1957 and commercial photography of businesses and organizations 1960s – 1980s.
Gurtizen Portrait Inventory
Follow the link for a collection guide
Gurtizen Commercial Inventory
This talented amateur photographer gives a touching portrayal of his two daughters growing up in the 1890s.
Views of West Chester and the Brandywine Valley from 1880-1895. Also includes photographs from the Postal Photographic Club, a photographic exchange club which flourished from 1889 to 1891. Some contributors include P.S. Chase, Miss E.S. Needles, J.M. and W. H. Walmsley, and others.
Naturalistic amateur photographer who took artistic views of the Brandywine and rural scenes 1883-1890s. Also includes views in West Chester and home interiors.
Views of the milling industry in southern Chester County and northern Delaware from 1895-1912.
Amateur photographer records his family, lumberyard business in West Chester and Bucks County goat farm, 1907-1911.
Family photographs and views in Bondsville and Fisherville, East Brandywine Township, 1898-1904.
Offers the only complete archive of the Solgram Color Photo process by this photographer and inventor. Included are the original 1904 patents, brochures, correspondence, catalog for the Keystone School of Photography, ca. 1911, Downingtown and 241 color photographs by South and his students. Read more about South’s career and Solgram Color Photographs on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_South
Best known for his freelance photography for newspapers, local police, the Republican party and theatrical personalities, Thompson was also know for his commercial work, portraiture, and wedding photography, ca. 1950 – 1970. Visit the Thompson Gallery.
Amateur photographer and printer by trade, Thorne photographed local mills, Birmingham and Lenape Parks, the Brandywine Creek and sites around West Chester 1886-1910. Also included in his collection are views of the Brandywine taken by Wilmer Worthington MacElree for his series of books.
1885-1930 Miscellaneous photographs by a variety of photographers. Some highlights include Longwood Gardens, P.M. Sharpless Estate, one-room schoolhouses, and the Brandywine.
These 120 collections represent a group of photos given by a single donor that document an extended family group or a special interest. See below for featured collections
The Paul Thomas Boyer Family photographs date from the 1880s through 2009. The photographs were collected by Paul Boyer and represent the Boyer and Jones families in addition to Luella Holcomb Boyer and Mary Henderson.
1930s survey of sites used as Post Offices throughout Chester County, Pennsylvania.
The Clement Family photographs mostly date from circa 1923-before 1950. The photographs include photos of Cecelia, Joseph, and Robert Clement and family, the Clement Family home, Pine Creek Mills, Joseph Clement’s artwork, and unidentified miscellanea.
The Wambold Family photographs mostly date from 1930-1949. The photographs include portraits of the Comfort, Sharples, and Wambold families in addition to their family homes, places of business, and West Chester events.
The Durborow Family photographs comprise date from circa 1905-1990. The photographs feature members of the Durborow family, primarily Gheen, Ethel, Margaret, and Robert Durborow.
Personal photographs of the arctic explorer. Entrikin was part of Peary’s Relief Expedition 1892, Northern Greenland expedition 1893-4 and the Mt. St. Elias expedition. He also lived in Seattle, Washington and Alaska during the Gold Rush 1897-1901, Mexico, Texas and Arizona 1904-1910 and Florida 1914-1942.
The Fame Fire Company portraits were taken in 1891-1892 and 1900. The portraits were taken by Thomas W. Taylor and include 145 cabinet cards depicting the members of Fame Fire Company.
The Frick Family photographs comprise of one folder and date from 1918-1967. The photographs feature members of the family, including Paul Saylor Frick, Paul Sumner Frick, and Mabel Frick and the Frick home in Kenilworth, PA.
The Joseph Hergesheimer photographs date from the 1917- 1955. They include photographs of early 20th century author, Joseph Hergesheimer, Dorothy Hergesheimer, their friends, and their home, the Dower House.
Photographs collected by this Phoenixville Justice of the Peace document the immigrant groups that came together in the Phoenixville community.
The Ivison Family photographs mostly date from the 1870s-1919. The photographs feature four generations of the Ivison Family of Oxford, PA in addition to other individuals, both identified and unidentified.
The Kane, Foulke, and duPont family photographs date from 1865-1974. They include photographs of Jean Kane Foulke and her daughter, Jean Kane Foulke duPont, who were both activists, in addition to photographs of each of their families.
The Robert L. Leeke Family photographs date from circa 1864/1865-1929. The photographs feature largely unidentified members of the Leeke family.
The Morris-Moore Family photographs comprise of 8 folders and date from circa 1905-1990. The photographs feature members of the Morris-Moore family, Coatesville-area landmarks, including the memorial service for Zachariah Walker.
This collection features the life and work of historian Albert Cook Myers, a noted William Penn Scholar. It includes Myers family photographs, historical images of Adams, Chester, Delaware and other counties, sites associated with William Penn, Quakers, Revolutionary war, Native Americans, etc. Myers installed markers between 1921 – 1933.
Schramm, Inc. is a well-established manufacturer of air compression, drilling, and construction equipment based in West Chester, PA. The Schramm, Inc. photographs consist of 60 linear feet, date from 1908-2000, and document company history, personnel, products, construction projects, and regional development throughout the 20th century.
The Seal, Speakman, Talley, and Weston family photographs date from the 1902-1944. They include photographs of ancestors of Kim-Eric Williams from the Seal, Speakman, Talley, Weston, McClure, and Gill families.
The Sleighton Farm School photographs date from the 1908- 1955. The photographs show students of the Sleighton Farm School, a reform school in Glen Mills, PA at work, events, and leisure, the faculty, including Martha Platt Falconer, and the school buildings.
179 photographs of the family of Benjamin and Lillian Mercer Walker and of views in Chester, Delaware and York Counties, Pennsylvania where they lived, 1860s – 1940s.
Color slides taken between 1978 -2004 of significant architecture in West Chester and Chester County, PA.
Collection of photographs taken by the West Chester Camera Club members Ned Goode and Melvin Gurtizen of the festivities celebrating 150 years of West Chester borough history. Includes parades, beauty pageants, costume promenade, model airplane contest, historical displays and decorations in the borough and other events.
The Whitford Flowers and Greenhouses, Inc. photographs mostly date from 1964-1996. The photographs feature the company’s owners, employees, greenhouses, and two retail shops.
The Lucie and Sidney Jean Windolph school photographs mostly date from 1931-1976. The photographs include both class photos and individual student portraits from the Windolph sisters’ time teaching at various schools in West Pikeland, PA.