Research Library

Please note, in order to do research you must join as a Friend of DCHS.
Friend memberships start at $30 which provides you with unlimited research access for 1 year.  

For any questions or inquiries, please contact the
Research Library at research@padelcohistory.org or 610-359-0832.

UPDATE!

We thank you in advance for your patience and adherence to the following re-opening guidelines:

 

Scheduling:

  • All research visitors must book an appointment in advance of their visit. Complete research request form. 

  • Visitors can schedule by phone 610-359-0832 or by email to research@padelcohistory.org to make a reservation.

  • Research appointments are available Tuesday-Thursday, 10-3PM. 

Visitor Guidelines:

  • All visitors must wear a mask

  • Guests are welcome to bring their own laptop and use the free Wifi available in the building

  • Visitors must ask a staff member for assistance if photocopies are needed

Remote Research Requests

DCHS RESEARCH LIBRARY RESOURCES

*please note we are in the process of digitizing our inventory and making our resource lists available online. 

Please contact us if you have questions or inquiries regarding resources.

  • Art Collection - assorted collection of oil portrait paintings and scenes of early Delaware County donated to DCHS over the century, including original Jesse Soifer art collection

  • Artifacts - The artifacts collection is quite extensive and is inventoried in our PastPerfect database that is currently only available for search on-site at DCHS. This database will be made available for online research in the near future. 

  • Books & Bound Publications - over 4,500 books and documents

    • Black History

    • Chester History

    • Darby Borough Historical and Preservation Society Collection

    • Journals & Scholarly Publications

      • Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography – 1877 to date

      • Pennsylvania History Journal

      • Pennsylvania Archives – first through eight series

      • Pennsylvania Colonial Records – 17 volumes​

    • Local Authors

    • Personal Historic Accounts

    • Pennsylvania & Delaware History

    • Rare Books collection

    • Telephone Books

    • Township, Borough and Municipality - history & documents, organized by township

    • Yearbooks

  • Box Collection see “Box Collection” index

    • Located in the basement climate- controlled vault, the Box collection hosts a plethora of unique information that cover a variety of specific events, subjects, civic groups, places and businesses, that have been donated to DCHS over the years. Topics include: Construction of I-476, Sleighton Farms School, Civil Rights in Chester, Delaware County Federation of Women’s Clubs, Lenni-Lenape history, and more

  • Documents/Records

    • Birth Records

      • Chester Register of Births, 1889-1906 (microfilm)

      • Upland Borough Birth List, 1894-1917

    • Borough Township Files

    • Census Information - Delaware County 1790-1920 (microfilm), other PA Counties from various years

    • Church Records/Religious Institution Records - see "Church Records" index

    • Family Bible Collectionsee “Bible” index

    • Death Records & Obituaries 

      •    Chester Rural Cemetery Records - 1863-1918

      •    Funeral records of E. F. White - (Chester) 1887-1930

      •    Old Mt. Zion Church Cemetery, Collingdale (was Darby) 1861-1882

      •    Obit extracts from the Delaware County Republic 1833-1885

      •    Obits, DCHS random collection of clippings

      •    Mortality schedules from the census: 1850, 1860 & 1870

      •    Social Security death benefit records (for the United States) 1937 to June 1992 (on CD-Rom)

      •    Upland Borough death list 1894-1917

      •    W.P.A. Grave Marker Project - information from readable stones in 1937 (some Del Co. cemeteries)

      •    Will abstracts - Chester Co. 1714 to 1800, Delaware Co. 1789 to 1835

      •    Wills & Administration Records

    • Deeds/Indentures

      • This collection consists of over 8,000 deeds and similar property, estate, and legal documents. It includes a large number of 19th and 18th century documents -- the earliest is from 1681 -- as well as several deeds from William Penn and John Morton (signer of the Declaration of Independence). There is a card catalog in alphabetical order for the collection.

    • Directories

      • Aston Township 1951-1994/ Chester City 1879-1931, 1941, 1956, 1959

      • Eddystone 1889-98, 1901-12, 1917-31, 1941, 1956/ Marcus Hook 193, 1956, 1959, 1941;

      • Media - 1883-86, 1891, 1906, 191731, 1941/  Upland 1882-86, 1889-96, 1901, 1904/31/1941;

      • West Chester 1857-1860; 1897: Clifton Heights/Darby/Lansdowne/Sharon Hill/Wayne

      • 1902: Clifton Heights/Darby/Lansdowne, Ridley Park/Sharon Hill/Wayne

      • 1914: Delaware County Farm & Business/ 1936 Philadelphia City Directory

      • 1941: Parkside/Linwood/Trainer

      • 1956: Brookhaven/Linwood/Parkside/Ridley Park/Swarthmore/Trainer

      • 1959: Brookhaven/Nether Providence/Parkside/Rose Valley/Swarthmore/Trainer

    • Genealogies – selection of different family genealogies tied to Delaware County

    • Government Documents (Chester City Planning Commission, Chester Redevelopment Authority, Chester City Council meeting minutes - 1970-1979, Government Study Commission of Delaware County records, 1973-1979, PA Crime Commission investigatory hearings, and other)

    • Land Records - (limited selection, contact the DC Deeds Department for information specific to existing homes)

    • Marriage Announcements

    • Military Records

    • Naturalization and Immigration Record

    • New Jersey Archives – first series, indexes

    • Railroad, Bridges, Ships Collection

    • School Board documents – Chester and other municipalities

    • Tax & Assessment Records – Chester County 1715-1800, Delaware County 1792-1848

  • Media Archives

    • Audio Recordings- Cassette Collection (see index)

      • Original interviews from PHMC's Oral History Project: Chester, Pennsylvania Project: "Black Experience in Chester." (1977-1984)

    • Video Tape Collection (see index)

 

  • Newspaper Collection (available bound, microfilm, clippings, digital)

    • Delco Times newspaper clippings from 1950-2000 organized by subject/title donated to DCHS

    • Chester/Del. Co. Advocate (Chester)1868-1869* Bound

    • Delaware County Advertiser (Chester) Bound

    • Delaware County Prohibitionist (Chester)1891-1894 Bound

    • Interboro News1981-1992 Bound

    • The Issue (Chester)1895* Bound

    • Morton Chronicle (indexed) (Morton)1880-89, 1893-1911 Bound

    • Public Press (Chester)1933-1935 Bound

    • Upland Union1825-26; 1886-1889 Bound

    • The Weekly Reporter (Chester)1881-1883; 1886-1889 Bound

    • Chester/Delaware County Times1877-1974 Microfilm

    • Delaware County Advocate (Chester)1869-1938 Microfilm

    • Delaware County American (Media)1855-1873, 1890-1911 Microfilm

    • Delaware County Democrat (Chester)1889-1912 Microfilm

    • Delaware County Republican (Chester)1846-1850; 1859-1885 & other dates Microfilm

    • Ridley Park News (Ridley Park)1913-15 Microfilm

    • Rockdale Herald (Aston)1898-1973 Microfilm

    • Yeadon Times (Yeadon)1946-1995 Microfilm

    • Delaware County Newspaper Record1819-1870 - CD

    • Chester County Genealogical Catalogue1809-1870- CD

    • The Morton Chronicle 1880-1883- CD

    • The Upland Union1826-1851- CD

  • Manuscripts. Large & Small  see “Manuscripts” Index

    • Consists of miscellaneous original manuscript and printed/ephemera materials relating to local people, organizations, and businesses in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Types of materials include: ledgers, diaries, correspondence, ephemera, pamphlets, and scrapbooks. The collection is divided into three series: I. Small manuscripts, II. Large manuscripts, and III. Boxes (see boxes)

 

  • Maps & Atlases see “Maps” Index

    • This collection includes maps, surveys, technical drawings, and atlases, mostly for the City of Chester and Delaware County (Pennsylvania) and include both original maps and copies. The majority of maps are arranged by municipality. The atlases date from 1872-1967.

    • Historic map collection

    • Original Markham map

    • Original surveys

    • City and street planning

    • Collection of Maps by City, Township & Borough

    • Original blueprints and city/county planning documents

    • County Maps & Atlases

    • Recreation Guides

    • Surveyor & Architect Plans

  • Photography Collection – photocopy index by township/subject available at DCHS

    • 45,000 photographs from around the County, organized by township or municipality. Extensive collection of historic Chester photographs. Most of the collection is alphabetically arranged into three series: I. Municipalities in Delaware County, II. People, III. Subjects (such as schools, transportation, bridges, creeks, groups, etc.). There are item-level inventories for these series available on-site.

    • Oversized Rare Photos: 

      • DCHS is in the process of updating inventory in Past Perfect, so this list will continue to be updated as we add more photos​

      • Oversized Photos Inventory (a/o August 2021)

    • People photographs

    • Muscella negatives, local Chester- based photographer

      • Alfred L. Muscella, Sr. was a professional photographer who lived and worked in Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The Fred Muscella film negatives, 1946-1991, consist primarily of 4"x5" film negatives, with some film strip negatives and 4"x5" prints from later years. The collection is organized into series by year, and then in alphabetical order by client.

      • Louis Deshong Woodbridge – photography collection

    • Post Card Collection – organized by township

  • Special Collectionsalso see “Boxes” Index or "Manuscripts" Index

    • Dr. Anna Broomall Collection

      • Anna Elizabeth Broomall (1847-1931), from Delaware County, Pennsylvania, was a prominent physician who established one of the first clinics for out-practice maternity care in the United States. She was chief resident physician and instructor of obstetrics at the Woman's Hospital of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. Having an active interest in history, Broomall served as librarian and curator of the Delaware County Historical Society after she retired from medicine.

      • The Dr. Anna E. Broomall scrapbooks, 1841-1922 (bulk 1900-1922) primarily consist of volumes of clippings that focus on historically-significant people, organizations, buildings, and events in Delaware County and Philadelphia. The collection also includes some glass-plate and film negatives as well as items, such as letters and ephemera, of historical and personal interest to Dr. Broomall. 

    • Chester F. Baker Collection – local history, scrapbook and family papers

      • Chester F. Baker (1891-1963) was a municipal engineer and amateur historian from the city of Chester in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Among his many affiliations with historical and genealogical organizations, Baker was president of the Chester Rural Cemetery Association and director of the Delaware County Historical Society. The Chester F. Baker local history research and family papers, 1864-1960 (bulk 1925-1960), consist of well over 100 binders with research materials on history topics, papers from organizations with which Baker was involved, and papers relating to his work as a surveyor. There are also a few personal and family photograph albums and scrapbooks.

      • The collection consists of well over 100 binders with research materials on various history topics, papers from organizations with which Baker was involved, and papers relating to his work as a surveyor. There are also a few personal and family photograph albums and scrapbooks. Baker fastidiously indexed the subjects mentioned in his binders, creating alphabetical indexes for most volumes and subject reference cards to include in the Delaware County Historical Society's card catalog. The most frequently-used volumes from the Baker collection have been photocopied; access copies are available in the Delaware County Historical Society's library.

    •  Anthony F. C. Wallace “Rockdale” Collection

    •  Louise Deshong Woodbridge Collection 

      • Louise Deshong Woodbridge (1848-1925), a member of the prominent Deshong family of Chester (Delaware County, Pennsylvania) was an active socialite as well as an amateur photographer and painter. Taking up photography in the early 1880s, Woodbridge had a fairly successful career with her work being exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

      • The Louise Deshong Woodbridge glass negatives, 1884-1905, consist of approximately 200 primarily glass plate negatives with some 4x5" film negatives that document the creator's family, friends, and social activities. They also document Delaware County and the surrounding area around the turn of the 20th century, particularly historic structures, such as the Woodbridge and Deshong mansions, and landscapes. Of special interest are some photographs of the White House, including the White House conservatory, and First Lady Ida McKinley.​

    • Henry Shmith Scrapbooks (mostly in German)

      • Henry Shmith (also spelled Heinrich Schmitz and Henry Schmidt) was born on August 21, 1899 in Germany. Shmith traveled extensively, working as a professional chef at many locations in the Delaware Valley region of the United States and frequently returning to Germany for visits. He settled in Glen Mills, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, where he passed away in 1982. The Henry Shmith scrapbooks, 1924-1979 (bulk 1950-1975), consist of about 20 volumes compiled by Henry Shmith, with photographs as well as clippings, ephemera, stamps, greeting cards, and letters. The scrapbooks, heavily annotated by Shmith, mostly in German with some English, focus on areas in the Delaware Valley or in and around Germany (including Spiegelau).

      • This collection consists of about 20 scrapbooks compiled by Henry Shmith, with many photographs as well as clippings, ephemera, stamps, greeting cards, and letters. The scrapbooks are heavily annotated by Shmith, mostly in German with some English. There are some notes/signatures from people he met. Most of the scrapbooks focus on areas in the Delaware Valley or in and around Germany. Most of the photographs of Germany (including Spiegelau) date from after World War II, though there are a few from before and during the war (captions are minimal).

    •  Howell Papers

      • The Howell family were members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) who resided in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The Howell family papers, 1798-1929 (bulk 1830-1880), consist substantially of routine personal correspondence between several generations of the Howell family, particularly Sally R. Howell, Israel Howell, Mary Mott Howell, Joshua R.

    • J.C.Taylor Papers & Blueprints

      • J. C. (Joshua C.) Taylor (1873-1946) was a prominent banker and lawyer in the city of Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. In 1931 he established Taylor Memorial Arboretum in memory of his wife, Anne Rulon Gray. The J. C. Taylor business papers, 1903-1953 (bulk 1935-1953) consist mostly of legal and property-related documents, including a large number of blueprints.