Main content

Newtown Square Historical Society local history collection


Held at: Newtown Square Historical Society [Contact Us]P.O. Box 3, Newtown Square, PA, 19073

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Newtown Square 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

"Newtown Township [Delaware County, Pennsylvania] dates to 1681, when William Penn planned two inland "new towns" (the second one is Newtown, Bucks County). The township was laid out with a straight main road, Newtown Street Road, running south to north and bisecting the Township. An east to west road - Goshen Road - also bisected the Township - and intersected with Newtown Street Road. Penn planned for a Townstead to develop at this intersection. Buyers who bought plots of farm land in the more remote sections of the Township would be entitled to a Townstead plot fronting on the main road. The original town followed that plan - several churches, a crossroads tavern, a wheelwright and several other small businesses located along Newtown Street Road.

"The original settlers were largely Welsh Quakers, and their livelihood was farming. For about the next 250 years, Newtown remained a farming community. With the construction of the West Chester turnpike, the nexus of the town moved up to the intersection of West Chester Pike and Newtown Street Road in the 19th century. A hotel and general store anchored that corner for over 150 years; and later a town hall was built as well. In the northeast corner of the Township, along the Darby Creek, several mills were located, and supported a population of more than 100 workers during the middle years of the 19th century. The Newtown that entered the 20th century was linked to the nearby city of Philadelphia by trolley and a freight rail line that terminated in the Township, but was still a farming community at the time of World War II."

Facilitated by convenient public transit connections to Philadelphia, Newtown Square's population exploded with suburban development in the 20th century. Fewer than 2,000 inhabitants before World War II grew to over 18,000 inhabitants by 2010.


Quoted text from: Newtown Square Historical Society. "Newtown History." Accessed June 13, 2013.

This collection is comprised of two parts: manuscript materials and digital files. Manuscripts documenting Newtown individuals, families, and organizations include the following: Alice Grim papers (mostly photographs with some correspondence and other documents), circa 1900-1950 CD of school tours Deeds and legal papers (mostly Davis family), circa 1860-1960 Diary, 1921 Ellis College May Day celebrations films (8mm), 1960s Fay C. Scherr (vice president of Marple-Newtown Joint School Board and first woman on Newtown school board) collection on Marple-Newtown school district (with clippings, ephemera, and correspondence), circa 1963 Fox Chase Inn account book, 1822, 1878 Hilda Lucas slides of Newtown Township buildings (captioned), circa 1950s-1970s John A. McCauley (school teacher at Alice Grim Elementary School in Newtown Square) papers (including clippings, scrapbook, autographed yearbook, and other papers), circa 1940-1985 Laurence M. Johnson volume, circa 1850 Lewis family papers, including diaries (circa 1900), 1744 deed, and other documents Mollie and Saunders Millner correspondence Newtown Township tax assessments, 1950 Photographs of Newtown Square area people, places, and organizations (framed and unframed), circa 1890-2000 Preston Mansion deeds, 1816-1854 Rail-related technical drawings, circa 1915 Unidentified daybook, 1919 Unidentified ledger, 1836-1938 Various maps and blueprints

Additional framed photographs and other documents are on display throughout the building.

The collection also contains subject files/boxes on various local history topics, including general categories, such as churches and schools, and specific subjects, such as the Bartram Bridge and Square Tavern/Benjamin West. The materials documenting these topics, which date from circa 1890 to 2013, largely consist of newspaper clippings, pamphlets and ephemera, narrative histories/reports, and photocopies of articles and primary source documents. There are also a few original primary source documents such as photographs and a few oral histories stored on CDs. The Society also has 1850 and 1860 census transcriptions and historic building survey information. Materials in this part of the collection are mixed with records of the Newtown Square Historical Society, the Newtown Square Historical Preservation Society, and records relating to the township's Colonial Day event.

Lastly, the Historical Society has digital files that are organized into the following series: People, Historic Sites, Photographs, and Maps. Each series is organized into folders by subject. The files are mostly JPGs (both born-digital photographs as well as scans of paper photographs or documents), with some PDFs (mostly scans of paper documents) and DOCs (research notes and copies of related emails, mostly compiled by Doug Humes). The People series includes photographs and documents relating to Newtown individuals and families. The Historic Sites series contains many born-digital photographs of buildings, as well as some scanned older photographs, site survey forms, and research notes on historic structures in the area. The Photographs series consists of photographs of Newtown Square area people, places, and organizations. The Maps series, by far the smallest of the digital files series, consists of approximately 80 scanned maps of Newtown and related municipalities in Delaware County, as well as some scanned aerial photographs of the area.

Materials collected at various times from various sources by the Newtown Square Historical Society.

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 Newtown Square Historical Society directly for more information.

Newtown Square Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton 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 Newtown Square Historical Society for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

Print, Suggest