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M. Elizabeth Burke papers


Held at: Malvern Historical Commission [Contact Us]Borough of Malvern, 1 East First Avenue, Suite 3, Malvern, PA, 19355

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Malvern Historical Commission. 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

Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Burke (1920-2011) was a resident of Malvern, Chester County, Pennsylvania and a political and community activist.

Betty was born on January 2, 1920 in Gladwyne, PA. She grew up on her father's farm in Gladwyne and attended St. Luke's School of Nursing in Philadelphia. She was a registered nurse and taught at Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia. She later returned to St. Luke's School of Nursing as a teacher, where she became director of nurses. She also went on to receive her Masters of Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1943, Betty married Samuel Burke, Jr. (1920-2010). When her husband became an administrator at the Malvern Institute in 1950, they moved to Malvern, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Betty became active with various community and political organizations in Malvern. She was involved with the Malvern Public Library, serving on the Library's Board for more than twenty-five years. She also served on the board of the Chester County Library System from 1965 to 2008 and served as board president for several terms. Betty was also active on the Malvern school board from 1960 to 1968, served as a Cub Scout den mother and Girl Scout leader, and served on the Malvern Historical Commission. She was the Malvern Borough Tax Collector for thirty-four years, 1966-2000, and was a Republican committee woman for thirty-eight years, 1968-2006.

In addition to her work with the community, Betty worked two nights each week as the night nurse in a local doctor's office for thirty years. She also ran a wedding photography business with her husband, Sam, for twenty years. When her husband retired in 1980, Betty encouraged him to run for Malvern Borough Council. He served on the council from 1980 to 2000, including two terms as president.

Betty passed away on March 5, 2011 in Malvern. The Samuel and M. Elizabeth Burke Park in Malvern honors Betty and Sam's dedication to the community.


Downey, Sally A. "M. Elizabeth Burke, 91, a Malvern Activist." Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), March 17, 2011.

This collection consists of papers accumulated by M. Elizabeth Burke during her time as Malvern Borough Tax Collector, member of the Malvern Historical Commission, and her time in other roles in the Malvern community. The collection also includes some research on Malvern and Chester County history. The papers are organized into files.

Materials from the Malvern Historical Commission include correspondence, meeting minutes, and materials related to the Commission's oral history project. There are photocopies and some originals of Chester County Architectural Inventory Forms for properties in Malvern. There are also some folders that include newspaper clippings relating to Malvern history, Chester County history, and Malvern schools.

Materials relating to Burke's role as Borough Tax Collector include correspondence and borough tax forms. There are also legal documents relating to Borough of Malvern court cases.

There is also a folder on elections that contains voter lists, blank campaign expense reports, voter districts and newspaper clippings, as well as a folder on local republicans containing resumes, newspaper clippings, and other materials, possibly from Burke's time as a Republican committee woman.

The collection also includes a small amount of ephemera from other organizations in which Burke was involved, such as the Paoli Memorial Association and Upper Main Line Association. Additionally, handwritten notes, newspaper clippings, and photocopies of newspaper clippings can be found in several of the files.

Gift of M. Elizabeth Burke, circa 2006

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 Malvern Historical Commission directly for more information.

Malvern Historical Commission
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.
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