Held at: Plymouth Meeting Historical Society [Contact Us]2130 Sierra Road, P.O. Box 167, Plymouth Meeting, PA, 19428
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Plymouth Meeting 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
Originally inhabited by Lenni Lenape Indians, the area now known as Plymouth Meeting (primarily lying within Plymouth Township, with a small portion in Whitemarsh Township) in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, was settled during the late 17th century. The first settlers were English. They stayed a short time, then moved to Philadelphia. Then Welsh settlers came and built Plymouth Friends Meetinghouse in the early 1700s. German immigrants also settled nearby. In 1686, the discovery of limestone in nearby Oreland drew settlers to the area. What is now Germantown Pike was ordered laid out by the Provincial Government in 1687 as a "cart road" from Philadelphia to Plymouth Meeting, though it was not finished until 1804.
Whitemarsh Township was incorporated in 1704 as part of Philadelphia County and was one of the 28 original communities that comprised Montgomery County when it was created in 1784. Founded in 1686, Plymouth did not become a township until January 1922. Through the efforts of the Plymouth Meeting Historical Society, the Village of Plymouth Meeting was placed on the National Register of Historic Districts in 1971.
Both Plymouth and Whitemarsh Township saw action during the Revolutionary War. The Battle of White Marsh and the Battle of Barren Hill took place within Whitemarsh. The Plymouth Friends Meeting house on the corner of Germantown and Butler Pikes, according to a current roadside sign, "served as a hospital and campsite for Washington's forces on their way to Valley Forge."
Several railroad lines were constructed in the area during the 19th century. The Plymouth Railroad, for example, was built in 1836 to serve some 20 lime kilns operating along the route between Conshohocken and Cold Point. In 1870, the line was acquired by the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and was rebuilt and extended to Oreland at a junction with the North Pennsylvania Railroad. While these transportation improvements brought relatively little residential development--the townships remaining a community of small villages and farms--they did encourage industry.
Plymouth Township gained some notoriety during the 19th century as an abolitionist stronghold, and many local families are known to have participated in the Underground Railroad. Many prominent abolitionists, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lucretia Mott, Mrs. Stephen Foster, and William Lloyd Garrison spoke at the local Abolitionist Hall near the corner of Germantown and Butler Pikes. The Hall later served as a studio for the artist Thomas Hovenden.
The areas of Plymouth and Whitemarsh grew significantly after World War II, especially during the latter decades of the 20th century when another round of development activity was triggered by the completion of the Blue Route (Interstate 476) with its major interchange in Plymouth Township.
Plymouth Meeting Historical Society. "Brief History of Plymouth Meeting." Accessed November 29, 2012. http://www.plymtghistsoc.freehosting.net/
Whitemarsh Township, Pennsylvania. "History (of Whitemarsh)." Accessed November 29, 2012. http://www.whitemarshtwp.org/information/about.aspx#History
This collection documents local history in the areas of Whitemarsh and Plymouth Township including people, families, buildings and locales, events, and organizations. Most of the materials are secondary sources, such as newspaper clippings, photocopies, research notes, and pamphlets and ephemera. There is a small amount of original, primary source documents, and there are some Plymouth Meeting Historical Society correspondence and records.
The collection is organized into alphabetical subject files. There is a card catalog for this collection available on-site.
Materials collected over time by the Plymouth Meeting 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 Plymouth Meeting Historical Society directly for more information.
- Plymouth Meeting 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 Plymouth Meeting Historical Society for information about accessing this collection.