Held at: Eden Cemetery [Contact Us]1434 Springfield Road, Collingdale, PA, 19023
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Eden Cemetery. 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
Founded in 1902 in Collingdale, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, Eden Cemetery is one of the oldest continually active African-American owned cemeteries in the United States. Eden's creation was the collaborative effort of five African-American Philadelphians: John C. Asbury, Jerome Bacon, Charles W. Jones, Martin J. Lehmann, and Daniel C. Parvis, all of whom sought to provide a respectful resting place for African Americans. A charter was granted on June 20, 1902 to establish Eden Cemetery on a fifty-three acre plot, formerly Bartram Farm, in Collingdale. The cemetery was slated to open August 10, 1902, with the burial of Celestine Willis, the wife of a member of the cemetery's advisory board. However, residents of Collingdale protested the interment of African-Americans, which delayed the burial for four days. An injunction followed, resulting in no further burials at Eden Cemetery until October 1902.
Throughout the twentieth century, remains from several African-American cemeteries in Philadelphia, PA were reinterred at Eden Cemetery in order to accommodate the expansion of the growing city. Remains from Lebanon Cemetery and the Stephen Smith Home Cemetery were reinterred in 1903, and in 1923 the remains from Olive Cemetery were also brought to Eden. Most recently, in 1987 and 1995, remains from the First African Baptist Church were reinterred there.
Eden is the burial ground for many notable 19th century African-Americans, including James Forten (1766-1842), William Still (1821-1902), Marian Anderson (1897-1993), Octavius V. Catto (1839-1871), Julian Francis Abele (1881-1950), John Baxter Taylor, Jr. (1882-1908), and Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933). Over four hundred United States Colored Troops Civil War veterans are buried at Eden Cemetery. To honor these veterans, Pennsylvania designated Eden as a Hallowed Ground Site. Also in 2010, Eden was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. As of 2015, Eden Cemetery is still active and has expanded to include twenty-three sections that are named after famous African-Americans (some of whom are buried there), Eden board members, the cemeteries that had remains reinterred at Eden, or those associated with fighting against slavery such as Abraham Lincoln and John Brown.
Eden Cemetery. "The History of Eden Cemetery." Accessed May 29, 2015. http://www.edencemetery.org/History/about.htm
This collection consists of interment books and burial cards, deed and certificate books, section books, financial records, and legal papers that document the burials and lot sales at Eden Cemetery from its inception in 1902 to the present.
The interment books consist of fifteen volumes, 1902-1985, that are organized chronologically, but within each volume, the names are ordered alphabetically. These volumes include the burial location (section name, lot number, plot number), name of the deceased, age at death, burial date, and undertaker. Interment book 1, 1902-1916 Interment book 2, 1916-1928 Interment book 3, 1926-1960 Interment book 4, 1931-1955 Interment book 5, 1955-1960 Interment book 6, 1945-1960 Interment book 7, 1960-1965 Interment book 8, 1965-1969 Interment book 9, 1969-1970 Interment book 10, 1971-1974 Interment book 11, 1974-1975 Interment book (unnumbered), 1950-1958 Interment book (unnumbered), 1956-1963 Interment book (unnumbered), 1975-1979 Interment book (unnumbered), 1980-1985 Around 1970, Eden switched from recording interments in the volumes to recording them on burial record cards. The burial record cards, circa 1965-present, are organized alphabetically and include the same information as in the volumes with the addition of last known address, date of birth and death, and funeral director. Occasionally the contact information for the funeral director is noted.
The deed and certificate books are comprised of seven volumes, 1903-present, that are organized chronologically. The volumes include date of transaction, deed number, seller and purchaser name, section name and lot number, and relevant notes such as duplicate deed dates or other changes. Deeds and certificates book 1, 1903-1923 Deeds and certificates book 2, 1923-1944 Deeds and certificates book 3, 1943-1954 Deeds and certificates book 4, 1954-1965 Deeds and certificates book 5, 1964-1973 Deeds and certificates book 6, 1974-1999 Deeds and certificates book 7, 2000-present Related to the deed and certificate books are folders with copies of plot deeds and certificates, 1980-present, that are organized chronologically and detail plot sales and provide proof of ownership, and several handwritten notebooks with jottings that list plot owners and certificates, 1964-1991.
The section books consist of twenty-six volumes organized by cemetery section name and then lot number and provide a history of the lot including the lot owner and date of purchase, name(s) of the person(s) buried there, age at death, date of burial, and funeral director. Bowers section book: lots 1-1084 Catto A section book: lots 1-1497 Catto A section book: lots 1498-1599 Catto B section book: lots 1-501 Celestine Reserve 1 section book Celestine Reserve 2 section book Celestine section book: lots 1-1261 Daniel W. Parvis section book: lots 1-170 David Bowser section book: lots 1-1300 David Bowser section book: lots 1301-1480 Douglass A and B section book: A lots 1-632, B lots 1-403 Douglass C and D section book: C lots 1-380, D lots 1-819 Douglass D section book: lots 727-1041 Douglass E section book: lots 1-977 Harriet Tubman section book: lots 1-1152 Home section book: lots 1-327A John Brown section book: lots 1-757 Katheryn E. Parvis Gardens section book: lots 1-95 Lebanon section book: lots 1-1148 Lehmann section book: lots 1-1223 Letson Martin section book: lots 1-323 Lincoln section book: lots 1-835 Olive section book: lots 1-660 Richard Allen section book: lots 1011-1428 Richard Allen section book: lots 1-1099 Richard Allen section book: lots 1429-1505 There are some duplicate copies of the section books that were used by cemetery superintendents when Eden Cemetery had two separate offices. These duplicate section books are not always as current. Bowers section book: lots 1-1084 Catto A and B section book: Catto A lots 1252-1537, Catto B lots 1-514 Catto A section book: lots 1-1497 Catto A section book: lots 1-1539 Celestine Reserve 2 section book: lots 1-447 David Bowser section book: lots 1-1300 David Bowser section book: lots 1301-1480 Douglass A section book: lots 1-632 Douglass B section book: lots 1-401 Douglass C section book: lots 1-403 Douglass D section book: lots 1-1032 Douglass E section book: lots 1-977 Daniel W. Parvis section book: lots 1-170 Harriet Tubman section book: lots 1-1152 Home section book: lots 1-327A John Brown section book: lots 1-753 John Brown section book: lots 1-757 Katheryn E. Parvis Gardens section book: lots 1-95 Lebanon section book: lots 1-1184 Lehmann section book: lots 1-1258 Lincoln section book: lots 1-836 Olive section book: lots 1-654 Richard Allen section book: lots 1100-1505
Financial records in the collection include a number of burial receipt books with order stubs, 1902-present, and account cards. The burial receipt books include information such as order number, permit number, date of order, name of deceased, age at death, date of death, cause of death (if known), birth place, last known address, undertaker, section name and lot number, plot number, date of interment, and whether the interment was public or private. The account cards are organized alphabetically and show payment information for lots including name of owner, address, amounts applied to account and balances.
Legal records in the collection include burial authorization records from Pennsylvania Department of Health, 1980-2015, which provide authorization from the person who owns the lot(s) for a person/people to be buried there. The authorization records include materials related to interment such as cremation, burial, removal, and/or transit permits, all of which provide information about the deceased. Some of the materials are copies, but some are originals.
Other documents in the collection include the original charter for Eden Cemetery from 1902 and an original plot deed from 1922.
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 Eden Cemetery directly for more information.
- African American cemeteries
- African American soldiers
- Selling--Cemetery lots
- Soldiers' bodies, Disposition of
- Eden Cemetery
- 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 Eden Cemetery for information about accessing this collection.