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St. James' Episcopal Church records


Held at: St. James' Community History Center [Contact Us]3768 Germantown Pike, Collegeville, PA , 19426, (610)489-7564

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the St. James' Community History Center. 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

"St. James' [Episcopal Church in Lower Providence Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania] has a rich heritage, dating from its first worship service conducted in 1700 by the Reverend Evan Evans, pastor of Christ Church, Philadelphia. Since then the parish has seen many changes in the surrounding countryside and grown along with the area as it progressed from a rural to a suburban economy. Throughout its more than three hundred year history, St. James' has been committed to faithful worship, Christian education, outreach and service...

"Edward Lane, the actual founder of St. James', acquired his extensive lands along the Perkiomen and Skippack creeks before 1700, after emigrating from Bristol, in the west of England. Other Church of England families from Bristol, and nearby Wales, came to settle on his land in the late 1600's and early 1700's. They built a log church on land, presumably donated by Mr. Lane, soon after 1700. This first St. James' Church burned a few years later in a fire that destroyed all of the church records of the day.

"To replace the original log structure, a new stone church was erected in 1721, under the direction of the Reverend Robert Weyman, of St. David's Radnor, who was also in charge of the St. James' parish, at the time. This stone church building stood across the road from the present church in the center of the current cemetery, which was then the churchyard... The 1721 building was demolished to allow for cemetery expansion and to provide stone for use in the walls of St. James' current building.

"The construction of St. James' current church was begun under the direction of the Reverend George Mintzer, who began his rectorship in 1842. Ground was broken in 1843 and the completed building was dedicated in 1845. A tablet in memory of Mr. Mintzer can be found on the wall behind the present pulpit. The belfry was erected in 1867. Its bell was dedicated in "thanksgiving for the end of the rebellion." Several members of the parish lost in [the Civil War] are buried in St. James' cemetery. Among these is the grave of John M. Vanderslice, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, for service during the Civil War. [The cemetery is also the final resting place for over 150 Continental soldiers who fought during the American Revolution, many of whose names are unknown.]

"The parish house was added to the original building in 1905. In the 1950's, under the direction of Reverend Edward Platts, the parish house was completely rebuilt and expanded to accommodate a growing congregation. Platts Hall was officially dedicated in 1958.


St. James' Episcopal Church. "A Brief Parish History." Accessed July 13, 2012.

This collection consists of the records of St. James' Episcopal Church in Lower Providence Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. It includes parish registers and vital records, vestry minutes, church financial and administrative records, women's groups records, and materials from "Colonial Christmas" events. In addition, this collection contains various indexes and genealogical research aids, including a tombstone inventory for St. James' Cemetery, and index to baptisms (1813-1937), and a list of pew holders in 1790 with their parents and descendants.

The parish registers include lists of communicants (members), burials, and baptisms. The records are very detailed: the burial lists, for example, include information such as last residence, date and cause of death. The materials in this section include:

Marriage record, 1788-1810

Parish register, 1812-1838

Parish register, 1873-1940

Parish register, 1938-1969

Parish register (active) 1969-present

Loose parish records, 1858-1937

Will book, 1905

Members, burials, and baptisms, 1956-1963

Cemetery plot maps, 1997

The St. James' Community History Center holds original St. James' vestry minutes for 1859-2012, and copies of the first vestry minute book, 1738-1859. (The first vestry minute book is held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.)

This collection contains various financial and administrative records of the church, such as:

Account book, 1838-1847

Building fund campaign records, 1958

Calendar with burial information, 1944

Cash book for building fund, 1958-1962

Cash book, 1891-1918

Cash book, St. James' savings account, 1954-1963

Cemetery account, 1945-1970

Church library lending log, 1854-1871

Collection record, 1932-1954

Dr. John W. Clawson: manuscript of church history, 1965

Ground rents, 1877-1900

Guest register, 250th anniversary, 1950

Income account book, 1952-1969

Photographs and inventory of church furnishings, circa 1983

Service record book, 1962-1985

Vacation Bible School records and pictures, 1937

Young people's minute book, 1950-1961

Over St. James' long history, the women membership has organized into various groups under several different names. This collection includes minute books and financial ledgers of the Ladies' Mite Society, Parish Guild, Women's Auxiliary, and St. James' Episcopal Church Women as listed below:

Ladies' Mite Society donations, 1847

Ladies' Mite Society donations, 1877

Parish Guild minute book, 1894

Guild secretary's book, 1908-1921

Guild minute book, 1922-1940

Women's auxiliary minutes, 1907-1928

Women's auxiliary minutes, 1939-1943

Women's auxiliary minutes, 1943-1954

Women's auxiliary minutes, 1955-1971

Women's auxiliary receipts and expenditures ledger, 1930-1931

Women's auxiliary receipts and expenditures ledger, 1953-1958

Women's auxiliary receipts and expenditures ledger, 1959-1964

St. James' Episcopal Church Women minutes, 1982-1996

St. James' Episcopal Church Women minutes, 1984-2006

Accordion folder of women's group records, circa 1985

Finally, this collection includes materials relating to "Colonial Christmas," an event held at the church in the 1970s and 1980s that included a tour of nearby historic properties. Most of the materials were compiled by Merrill Bean, 1970-1987: event pamphlets, photographs, slide show and audio reel (1973); file of research on local properties; photograph album (1971), newspaper clippings about the tour, and correspondence about tour.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2011-2012 as part of a pilot 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 St. James' Community History Center directly for more information.

St. James' Community History Center
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza 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

Recent Church records (such as baptisms and deaths) may be unavailable for a period of time after creation. Contact St. James' Community History Center for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

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