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New London Area Historical Society local history collection


Held at: New London Area Historical Society [Contact Us]PO BOX 1002, New London, PA, 19360

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the New London 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

Part of a large tract of land purchased by members of the London Company from William Penn in 1699, New London Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania was chartered in 1723 and originally included the areas that now comprise adjacent Franklin Township and nearby London Britain Township. Some of the land in this area was part of a land dispute between the Penn family in Pennsylvania and the Calvert family in Maryland until the Mason-Dixon Line was used to established a formal boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland in the 1760s. As a result, some of the land that was once considered part of Maryland in the 18th century is now part of Pennsylvania.

In 1743, Reverend Francis Alison, a minister at the New London Presbyterian Church, opened the New London Academy, from which the University of Delaware would later be established. The New London Academy quickly became well known for its excellence in education and its alumni included prominent colonial, revolutionary, and early American-era politicians, historians, clergy, and educators. Three signers of the Declaration of Independence attended the Academy, including future Pennsylvania Governor, Thomas McKean, who was born in New London Township in 1734. (His birthplace is today part of Franklin Township, which split from New London Township in 1852.)

Although New London was largely a rural area consisting of farms in the late 18th and 19th centuries, the area was part of the main route that stagecoaches and other travelers used when traveling between Philadelphia and Baltimore, and Lancaster, PA and Perryville, MD. Consequently, several shops and businesses cropped up in New London including inns, general stores, blacksmiths, tanneries and saddle shops, wheelwrights, shoemakers, tailors, and other entrepreneurs. The area's status as a hub for travelers was acknowledged in its early 19th century name: New London Crossroads. Today, New London is still primarily a rural area, but thanks to improved roadways, it has developed into a residential area for those who work in the nearby cities of Wilmington and Newark, Delaware.


New London Township. "About New London Township." 2015. Accessed June 10, 2015.

This collection, 1711-2000 (bulk 1970-2000), consists of a mix of primary and secondary-source materials relating to the history and residents of New London Township and nearby areas. Materials include manuscripts, property files, photographs, slides, newspaper clippings, subject files, and a small amount of records from various New London historical organizations. There are also some textiles and objects associated with this collection that were not included as part of this survey.

There are approximately 2,000 color slides in the collection with images of people, places, and documents relating to New London Township, likely used during local history lectures. Some of the slides depict areas nearby New London, such as northern Maryland. A hand-written index is available on-site for a majority of the slides. Other audio-visual materials in the collection include photographs such as black and white photographs of the Kirk log cabin restoration, late 19th century-early 20th century school class photographs, a couple of contact sheets, and other photographs of New London people, buildings, and scenery, as well as at least one audio reel-to-reel. There are some photographs that may relate to nearby areas outside of New London including the Jack Mackey family photographs, circa 1910s-1930, the Hodgson family photographs, and various unidentified family photographs, circa 1883-1940).

Property documents in the collection include building schematics; a modern (post-1970) partial list of 18th and 19th century deeds and abstracts (alphabetical by owner), often including information about the property and drawings of property lines; photocopies of property documents including deeds and warrants; photocopies of 18th century land surveys; copies of materials relating to historic home surveys; copies of 18th century tax lists; original property deeds from 1936-1949; information on the succession of ownership for certain properties; Morse's Home plot plans and maps; "Tavern" research; hand-drawn property maps; "Site 12" property research; and copies of historic property surveys.

Other documents in the collection include a scrapbook with newspaper clippings focusing on the New London Inn and New London history; photocopies of newspaper articles and general research on the New London Academy; notes, newspapers and newspaper clippings about New London; a very small amount of genealogical research on New London families, including Robert Finney, and a folder on the Morse family (Lancaster, PA); copies of a New London burial census and 19th century census records held at the National Archives; graduation programs; Howard Paxton checks and letters, circa 1920s-1930s; and other New London history related materials. There is a small amount of 18th and 19th century materials including indentures from 1850, 1851, and 1863 and receipts from 1711 and 1734. Of special interest are a few items relating to Joseph Gardner including a 1767 indenture, a letter, 1778, regarding the renting of Joseph Gardner's property, and a military appointment for Joseph Gardner from the Pennsylvania Assembly, 1776.

There is a small amount of subject files that include secondary-source research materials on individuals such as Darlington Cope and Thomas McKean, families, historic homes, businesses, churches, inns such as the New London Inn, schools such as the New London Academy, and other topics relating to New London and nearby areas. Some files may include photographs.

Records from various New London historical organizations include: New London Historical Commission minutes, correspondence, ordinances, and policies, circa 1995; materials relating to New London's application to become a historic district; New London Historical Society/History Club records, 1972-2000, including by-laws, 1993, minutes 1972-1975 and 1980s-1990s, membership lists and applications, letters, invoices and other financial documents, grant applications, programs and tour information, advertisements, pamphlets, and research materials (photocopies of primary source documents, articles, book-excerpts, and some notes) relating to history talks and lectures given by the Club; and files of Janet Dougherty, secretary for the New London Preservation Committee, 1970s-1990s.

The collection also contains printed materials relating to locations near or outside of New London Township (other locations in Chester County, PA; Cecil County, MD; and Delaware) including pamphlets, guidebooks, travel brochures, newspaper clippings, and newsletters.

Materials collected by the Society from various sources over time

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 New London Area Historical Society directly for more information.

New London Area Historical Society
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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Collection Inventory

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