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St. James' Community History Center collection on local and church history


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." (St. James' Episcopal Church)

The church is also known as St. James', Evansburg and St. James’ Church, Perkiomen. Reverend Edward Platts served as a vicar there from 1941 to 1953, and as rector from 1953 to 1968.

"The Evansburg District, located in central Montgomery County, has occupied a key position in the cultural development of southeastern Pennsylvania. This district was part of William Penn's Holy Experiment, an early attempt to maintain the integrity of disparate religions, cultural and political cooperation. Lutherans, Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Mennonites, and Anglicans all inhabited the region and presented admirable models of religious toleration and harmony unknown to many parts of Colonial America. Dr. Sylvester K. Stevens, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has described this area in the following manor: 'There is good evidence to support the argument that this is the last, virtually unspoiled valley where William Penn's idea of peaceful religious coexistence actually was practiced for over two centuries." (Living Places)


Living Places. "Evansburg." Text adapted from a copy of the original National Register nomination document, 1971. (ADC: 3254 B02) Accessed July 17, 2012.

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

The bulk of this collection is comprised of alphabetically-arranged subject files. The collection also contains some original and reproduction photographs, about 1/2-dozen deeds, a scrapbook of the Girls' Friendly Society, and a small amount of Rev. Edward Platts papers (mostly correspondence).

The subject files include pamphlets, research notes, copies of articles, a small amount of correspondence and original church records, newspaper clippings, and maps. Some of the main subjects covered are: St. James' written histories; Legal; Members (membership lists); Property (cemetery records, church furniture, labyrinth, history of church buildings); Organizations (community groups); Outreach (church outreach); Reunions and anniversaries; Diocese of Pennsylvania; Rectors of St. James'; Churches and Area Historic Connections; Local Community (history of). There are also a number of family histories, for which an alphabetical index exists on-site.

This collection contains some original and reproduction photographs, many of which are on display in the History Center. Most photographs depict the school house and church or rectors and members.

There are about 1/2-dozen deeds in this collection dating from 1803 to 1917.

The Girls' Friendly Society is a worldwide organization begun in England by women of the Anglican Church in 1875. At its inception the organization aimed to support and empower girls and women from working class families. Following the Industrial Revolution many girls and women found themselves removed from their families with a need for guidance and support. The organization is nonsectarian but does follow an organizational structure similar to that of the Anglican Church as its founders were members of the church. A Girls' Friendly Society branch was started at St. James' in 1938. The group is still active as of 2012, meeting primarily for service projects and worship. This collection contains one scrapbook of the Girls' Friendly Society of St. James', including clippings, invitations/ephemera, and publications, 1903-1954.

Of special interest in the collection is a group of papers created by Rev. Edward Platts. Platts served as vicar of St. James' from 1941-1953 and rector from 1953-1968. His papers consist mostly of correspondence dating from 1917 to 1962, but feature a small number of deeds dating from 1894 to 1914.

Materials collected by the St. James' Community History Center over time.

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.
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Contact St. James' Community History Center for information about accessing this collection.

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