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Downingtown Area Historical Society collection on schools


Held at: Downingtown Area Historical Society [Contact Us]PO Box 9, Downingtown, PA, 19335

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Downingtown Area Historical Society. 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

A number of small, mostly one-room schoolhouses already existed in the area of Downingtown, Chester County, Pennsylvania when the first high school was constructed there in 1874. The Downingtown High School Alumni Association, established a decade later and still active as of 2014, is credited as the oldest high school alumni association in the United States. The building that was formerly known as Downingtown High School and Downingtown Junior-Senior High School became known as Downingtown High School West Campus when the additional East Campus in nearby Uwchlan Township became part of the school.

In 1958, the nearby townships of East Caln, Uwchlan, West Bradford, East Brandywine, and Wallace united with Downingtown Borough to form a school district system. Soon after, in 1961, West Pikeland and Upper Uwchlan townships joined the district.

As of 2014, the Downingtown Area School District supports ten elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools on three campuses (Downingtown East, Downingtown West, and Downingtown STEM Academy).


Downingtown Area School District. "A Brief History of the District." 2010. Accessed July 11, 2014.

This collection consists of yearbooks, photographs, programs/invitations, scrapbooks, and other materials relating to Downingtown area schools, especially Downingtown High School. A detailed inventory to the collection is available on-site.

About half of the collection is Downingtown High School yearbooks, 1929-2013. There is also a large number of photographs, primarily class photos and pictures of sports teams, as well as some images of school facilities, clubs, and related topics. In addition to photographs, there are numerous slides, several glass plate negatives, and a few reel-to-reel audio tapes. Many programs and invitations can be found in the collection for commencement exercises, class reunions, football games and team banquets, baccalaureate services, and other events. Additional materials include certificates, scrapbooks, alumni newsletters, and other documents. Of special interest may be editions of the high school's literary magazine, The Cuckoo (1919-1923); and School Board minutes (1950s) and a small amount of other School Board records.

Because the Chester County Farm Show was held at Downingtown High School for many years, scrapbooks, slides, and photographs from the farm show, 1944-1963, also form part of this collection.

Materials collected by the Downingtown Area Historical Society from various sources over time.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 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 Downingtown Area Historical Society directly for more information.

Downingtown Area Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu 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 Downingtown Area Historical Society for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

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