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Village Improvement Association of Doylestown records


Held at: Village Improvement Association of Doylestown [Contact Us]595 West State Street, Doylestown, PA, 18901

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Village Improvement Association of Doylestown. 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

"Concerned about their families after dusty Bucks County [Pennsylvania] roads caused a variety of health-related issues, fourteen women gathered on April 26, 1895 and formed the Village Improvement Association (VIA) dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Central Bucks community. Early on they arranged to eliminate dust in the streets and later established the first visiting nurse service in Doylestown. In 1923, they founded Doylestown Hospital.

"Since that time, the VIA has grown in size and scope to its present membership of over 350 women. VIA members are a vital presence at Doylestown Hospital which has become a nationally-recognized, awarding-winning community hospital providing exceptional healthcare services in a compassionate environment. The organization also oversees Pine Run Retirement Community which encompasses Independent Living, Personal Care, Alzheimer and Dementia Care and Rehabilitation Services.

"The organization's efforts go beyond health services in supporting the local community. It offers one-time grants to community efforts; educational scholarships for outstanding high school seniors pursuing health-related careers and women seeking professional careers; and through its Welfare Fund, the VIA provides a variety of support for those in our community with emergency needs.

"The VIA is proud to call the James-Lorah Memorial Home at 132 North Main Street in Doylestown its headquarters. Once the home of Sarah M. James (a charter member of the VIA), the home was bequeathed to the organization in 1954. The Federal-style building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"The community is the primary concern of the VIA which initiated a wide range of programs to support and enhance the quality of life in Central Bucks County.

"In November 1985, the VIA membership approved a plan for corporate restructuring that created the VIA Health System. This plan took effect in March 1986 and has enabled the VIA and Doylestown Hospital to operate more efficiently and with greater diversification.

"In 1992, the VIA acquired the Pine Run Community and Health Center and in 1998 added a separate assisted-living complex known as Pine Run Lakeview.

"In May 2001, the Health & Wellness Center by Doylestown Hospital opened in Warrington. In addition to private physician practices and the Cornerstone Fitness Club and Spa, hospital services currently located in this facility include diagnostic imaging (X-ray, CT, MRI), laboratory services, Phase 3 cardiac rehab, the Woman's Diagnostic Center, Healthy Directions Nutrition Therapy and Counseling and an outpatient surgery center.

"Throughout its history, the VIA has continued to be forward looking, while maintaining the original goals of the Association which are to promote "every proper means of improving and beautifying Bucks County...improving the health and welfare of the residents," and "supporting a community hospital and other health care facilities for the benefit of all persons." Each year members rededicate themselves to these commitments made in 1895."


Quoted text from: Village Improvement Association of Doylestown. "Our Roots." Last modified 2015. Accessed June 15, 2015.

This collection consists of administrative records, scrapbooks, membership materials, photographs, audiovisual materials, blueprints, newsletters, ephemera, and other materials relating to the Village Improvement Association (VIA) of Doylestown that date from 1895 to 2014. There is also a small amount of materials from the Junior Women's Club of Doylestown. Financial records of the VIA and Junior Women's Club, administrative and financial records relating to the Doylestown Hospital, and general records from 1960 to the present are currently restricted.

Administrative records include thirty-two VIA Board and monthly meeting minute books, 1895-2014; yearbooks (annual reports), 1911-2000; newsletters, 1984-2012; membership records; and organizational histories written by members of the VIA (including one written by a charter member), 1932, 1984, 1991. There are also some records from various committees of the VIA. A majority of committee materials are from the James Lorah Memorial Home Committee, responsible for the care of the house (including grounds) and its contents. Home Committee records include meeting minutes, 1954-2004, inventories and deaccessioned items lists, collection policies and appraisals, reference materials for preservation and conservation, tour guide notes, pamphlets and booklets relating to the home, house maintenance records, and photographs of the home. There are also minutes and treasurer's reports from the Horseshow Committee and meeting minutes, event booklets, reports, and realtor information from the Designer House Committee.

The collection includes a large number of scrapbooks with newspaper clippings, photographs, and ephemera. A majority of these scrapbooks are President's scrapbooks, documenting the terms of each president from the late 1930s to 2010. Earlier president scrapbooks are photocopies, but there are some originals. Other scrapbooks in the collection document various committees; Doylestown Hospital, 1930s-1950s, 1970s-1980s (some are original, some are copies); Designer House annual fundraising event, 1980-2000; VIA publicity and press, 1986-1988; general clippings about the VIA, early 1980s; the VIA's Community Improvement Project for the Greater Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC), 1950s-1980s; awards received from the GFWC; and the 100th Anniversary of the VIA, 1994.

There is a small amount of audiovisual material in the collection, including a six-part DVD series on the history of Doylestown Hospital, 1997, and an audiocassette recording of the Centennial Kickoff celebration at the VIA meeting in 1994. Blueprints in the collection are for the James-Lorah Memorial Home.

Also in the collection is a small number of materials from the Junior Women's Club of Doylestown, including meeting minutes, 1935-1948; yearbooks (annual reports), 1942-1964; by-laws and officer lists; and a small number of photographs from events, letters, awards, and reports. There are a few scrapbooks from the Junior Women's Club including a general scrapbook about the Club, 1966-1967, one about the Village Fair, and a couple relating to the Club's Christmas event. One scrapbook is about children the Club sponsored in Mexico through the Christian Children's Fund, 1982-1987. The scrapbook contains typed letters from the sponsored children, as well as photographs and newspaper clippings.

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 Village Improvement Association of Doylestown directly for more information.

Village Improvement Association of Doylestown
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.
Access Restrictions

Contact the Village Improvement Association of Doylestown for more information about accessing this collection. Some records, including minute books 12-32 and financial records, are restricted.

Collection Inventory

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