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Cliveden of the National Trust (Philadelphia, Pa.) records


Held at: Cliveden of the National Trust [Contact Us]6401 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19144

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Cliveden of the National Trust. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

"Cliveden's original owner, Benjamin Chew (1722-1810), was the son of Maryland Quakers. He received his training in London's Middle Temple, making him one of the most highly-trained lawyers in the [American] Colonies. The Penn family recognized his talent, and he became their principal legal advisor. Unlike other lawyers of the time, who had a penchant for flowery and wordy opinions, Chew's writing was defined by brevity and clarity. Chew's crowning appointment was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Province of Pennsylvania - he was the last man to hold that position before America declared [its] independence from Great Britain [in 1776]. In addition to his legal prowess, Chew was a shrewd land speculator. Much of the wealth that supported the family's lavish Philadelphia lifestyle flowed from several tobacco and wheat plantations in Maryland and Delaware.

"In 1767, Benjamin Chew completed a summer retreat in Germantown he called Cliveden, built in the highest Georgian style. The estate had manicured gardens, wooded groves, and several outbuildings, including a large carriage house. The inside of the stone mansion boasted elaborate woodwork and furnishings imported from England. Although he possessed no architectural training, it appears that Chew had a hand in designing the house.

"During the American Revolution, the pacifist Chew sided with the Crown and his principal clients, the Penn family. As a result, the Continental Congress placed him under house arrest in New Jersey. After the Revolution, Chew returned to his successful legal practice. Despite questions about his loyalty, George Washington and John Adams had immense respect for him, and friendships such as these allowed Chew to reclaim his position in the Philadelphia power structure. Back on his feet, Chew repurchased and restored his beloved summer house, badly damaged by artillery fire during the 1777 Battle of Germantown.

"The Chews continued to own Cliveden until 1972, when they donated the house and its contents to the National Trust for Historic Preservation."

Cliveden, constructed in the Georgian style of architecture, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and was owned and operated as a house museum by the National Trust for Historic Preservation from 1972 until 1992, when the National Trust entered into a co-stewardship agreement with Cliveden, Inc. Since 1992, the National Trust remains the owner of the property, but its maintenance and day-to-day management is overseen by the local board of directors of Cliveden, Inc. In 2004-2005, Upsala Foundation Inc., responsible for the care and operation of Upsala, a Federal-style historic house located across the street from Cliveden, merged with Cliveden of the National Trust.

As of 2015, Cliveden of the National Trust continues to operate as an historic site and house museum and is open to the public for tours from April through December, regularly hosting programs such as concerts, lectures, and plays. There is a re-enactment of the Battle of Germantown annually at the site in October.


Quoted text from: Ujifusa, Steven. "Cliveden: An Historic Germantown Mansion Redefines its Mission." The PhillyHistory Blog (blog). November 1, 2010. Accessed September 4, 2015.

This collection contains the records of Cliveden of the National Trust and other related materials, dating from 1809 to 2015 with bulk dates of 1972 to 2015. The records primarily document the administration of Cliveden as an historic site, and include: administrative files, collection records, reference files, archeological files, buildings and grounds files, program files, grant files, National Trust for Historic Preservation files, board files, education files, Education Director files, oversized materials, audio and visual materials, and other materials.

Administrative files consist primarily of papers, circa 1971-2012, from former employees, including: former executive directors Kris Kepford and Jenny Esler, former PR Coordinator and Educations and Programs Manager Ann Roller, former Curator of Education Sandy Mackenzie Lloyd, former Curator Elizabeth Laurent, and former administrator Raymond Shepherd. These files include correspondence, grant materials, long range and strategic planning materials, institutional memos, membership and volunteer information, various committee and board meeting minutes, architectural drawings, appraisals, financial records, and materials relating to programs, events, and tours. The papers of Raymond Shepherd also consist of materials from the beginning of Cliveden's conversion to an historic site and include Cliveden Council minutes and memos to the National Historic Trust in Washington, D.C. Other administrative materials in the files include reports; cash register receipt reports from the gift shop; fiscal year reports; Members' Day materials such as photographs, correspondence, planning, reports, and receipts; Carriage House records, circa 1970s; bicentennial materials, focus group materials; historical marker application materials; and various visitor logs, event guest books, and attendance sheets, circa 1972-2002. There are also some materials relating to Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and National Endowment for the Humanities grants in the administrative files, including materials relating to the development of new interpretive plans in 1993, 1995, and 1996.

Collection records, circa 1972-2010s, are organized into groupings of accessions, acquisitions, and deaccessions. The accession files are organized by accession number and contain inventory sheets, catalog worksheets, and notes. Most of these files contain object photographs. The acquisition files are organized by year and contain correspondence, appraisals, and photocopies of materials relating to specific acquisitions, including histories. The deaccession files are organized by year and contain correspondence, appraisals, and printouts of the objects' records in the collections management database, PastPerfect, as well as documentation from the method of disposal, such as auction records for sold items. Also included in the collection records are binders with shelf listings for various item locations and an inventory.

The reference files, circa 1969-2003, are organized alphabetically and contain information on Cliveden history, such as gardens, food, vehicles, maps, land records; families associated with Cliveden (a number of files are on the Chew family); and files on other topics related to Cliveden, such as the Battle of Germantown and historic sites similar to Cliveden. These files mostly contain secondary source material including computer printouts and photocopies. Some files contain primary source documents such as appraisals, letters, and handwritten and typed notes.

Archaeological files, circa 1972-2008, are organized chronologically and contain reports and excerpts from reports that relate to archaeological and structural studies done on Cliveden's property and buildings, as well as artifacts discovered on-site. Topics of reports include the rehousing of archaeological artifacts, water damage, and a geophysical investigation report. There are also results and findings from archaeological digs on the site that include catalog analysis sheets. Some files include photographs, and there is at least one CD of a report. There are also a few files related to Upsala, another historic home managed by Cliveden, including a file containing a report and primary-source material on an archeological dig at Upsala.

Buildings and grounds files, circa 1972-2015, are primarily organized by subject and building location. The files organized by subject cover topics such as contracting, dumpsters, pest control, and other subjects and contain receipts for work done, some correspondence, contracts, research on products and companies, and other materials. The files sorted by building location have file titles such as "Carriage House," "Facade," and other names for specific rooms and property locations and contain materials such as disaster plans, photographs, insurance materials, and other documents. There are also some landscape files that are organized by location and contain some photographs and negatives, plant surveys, tree surveys, inventories of trees and other plants on-site, tree health reports, and other materials relating to the property's landscaping. Additionally, there are a large number of reports relating to the building and environment, including reports on environmental planning studies, structural integrity of the building, collections storage assessments and recommendations, paint analyses, the HVAC system, and the Houton project, an architectural survey of the building in 1993. A majority of the reports are stored in binders and contain papers, photographs, and negatives. There are a few reports stored on CDs.

Program files, circa 1989-2011, are organized alphabetically by event and relate to programs and events held at Cliveden. The files contain photocopies of articles and other research, correspondence, receipts, handwritten notes, newspaper clippings, event booklets and brochures, flyers, mailings, and other related materials.

Grant files, circa 1997-2010, are organized alphabetically by the name of the granting institution. Within an institution's file, there may be multiple folders depending on whether or not Cliveden applied to the institution for more than one grant. The files contain grant proposals, applications, notifications and other correspondence, financial status reports, reports to the funder, and other materials.

National Trust for Historic Preservation files, circa 1999-2010, consist of materials relating to the relationship between the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and Cliveden. The files include materials from Site Director's meetings, strategic planning material, development and fundraising materials, and copies of agreements between Cliveden and NTHP. The files are organized alphabetically by topic.

Board files, circa 1989-2013, contain board packets for each full board meeting with agendas, financials, minutes from the previous meeting, and copies of documents relevant to the meeting. There are also files for the executive, financial, and preservation committees with meeting agendas and minutes. The files are organized chronologically.

The educator files, circa 2005-2013, contain materials related to education programs at Cliveden and include project planning documents, correspondence, publicity materials related to the programs, newspaper clippings, and press clipping books about the programs. There are also visitation books.

Educator Director files, circa 2011-2015, contain materials accumulated by the current Education Director during her time at Cliveden. The files include papers related to programs, events, development, and visitation. There are interpretive plans, correspondence, publicity/marketing materials, program descriptions, and other materials.

Oversized materials in the collection include Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) materials from 1972, blueprints, topographic surveys, exhibit plans, historic structure report drawings, and various plans from building repairs and restorations including the main house stucco project, 1993, barn restoration, 1959, and the restoration of and subsequent work on the Carriage House from 1975 to 1976, and 1995.

Audio and visual materials include a large number of photographs, slides, and negatives depicting people associated with Cliveden and visitors, the site and architectural details, and objects. There are also institutional photographs used for publicity. Some photographs are stored on CDs. VHS recordings in the collection relate to Germantown, the Chew family, focus groups at Cliveden, and other historic properties. There are a few U-matic tapes. There are over one dozen oral history interviews dating from 1987 to 1993 on audiocassette tapes with members of the Chew family, conducted by former administrator Raymond Shepherd.

Other materials in the collection include: an 1809 deed related to noted Philadelphia merchant Thomas Willing, materials from the Cliveden Society, research related to the Battle of Germantown and battle re-enactments, property materials, booklets (some from the early 20th century), publications, a small amount of post cards and recipe books, newspaper clippings, and two scrapbooks with newspaper clippings about the beginning of Cliveden as a historic site, circa 1972-1978. There are also materials relating to other historic sites such as Andalusia, Johnson House, Concord School House, and RittenhouseTown, including research, publicity materials, organizational documents, and agreements with Cliveden, as well as materials from Philadelphia's Historic Northwest Coalition.

There is a small amount of photocopied materials from the Chew family papers (originals located at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania) and related research. The Chew family papers, 1659-1986, is an extensive collection held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania that documents the Pennsylvania and Maryland branches of the Chew family through seven generations. The collection contains papers from various family members; records relating to the family's land holdings, including Cliveden; Chew family genealogical research; and the family's substantial map collection.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Cliveden of the National Trust directly for more information.

Cliveden of the National Trust
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Access Restrictions

Contact Cliveden of the National Trust for information about accessing this collection. Some items, such as financials, employee records, donor records, and other materials, may be restricted due to privacy concerns.

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