Collections

The Mennonite Heritage Center cares for archival, manuscript and artifact collections that document three centuries of Mennonite life in the eastern Pennsylvania counties of Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Berks, Lehigh, Northampton and Philadelphia. Follow the links below for more information, or search the collections database.

Recent Additions

Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville

New acquisition: Bower family tree

Zach Bower, a social studies teacher at Dock Mennonite Academy, recently donated an unusual family heirloom to the Mennonite Heritage Center -- a hand-drawn family tree compiled by his great-great-grandfather, Henry Stauffer Bower (1836-1909). The tree, signed and dated 1897, traces many branches of the descendants of Mennonite immigrant Hans Bauer, a native of Switzerland who settled in Hereford Township, Berks County in 1734. This chart was made in combination with a genealogy that Henry compiled, part of which was published in 1897 through the Harleysville News printing house. The complete manuscript of Henry's genealogical work is in the possession ...
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New acquisition: Gehman-Hiestand family registers

New acquisition: Gehman-Hiestand family registers

Last year Alma Shelly of North Newton, Kansas donated several family Bible registers that belonged to her late sister-in-law, Griselda Gehman Shelly (1925-2014), wife of Mennonite minister and author Maynard Shelly. The registers document four generations of Griselda's ancestors, a unique and gifted family of the Berks-Lehigh community. Griselda Gehman was an only child, born in Newark, Delaware to parents of Pennsylvania Mennonite origin. Her grandfather, William Hiestand Gehman,  had moved from Lehigh County, Pennsylvania to the state of Delaware, where he married Lucy Thomas in 1896, and their son Gilbert (Griselda's father) was born in 1898. As there were ...
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New acquisition: Deep Run and Salford gravestone photos

New acquisition: Deep Run and Salford gravestone photos

In 2016, the MHC received not one, but two collections of digital photos from local Mennonite cemeteries. The first contains photos of all gravestones in the Deep Run Mennonite East Cemetery in Bedminster Township, Bucks County. The donor, Daryl W. Rice, shot the photos in 2015. He did an excellent job, selecting a time of day when the sun created the best light for reading inscriptions, and getting down to the level of the stones for a good angle. Most 18th-century Mennonite gravestones did not carry decorative images, but several stones at Deep Run include carvings of crowns and tulips ...
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Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville

New acquisition: Flow blue and stick spatter dishes

In 2016, two sets of beautiful 19th-century dishes were donated to the MHC. The first is a full table setting of "flow blue" dishes, circa 1870, that belonged to Susan Godshall Frederick Rosenberger (1854-1932) of Souderton, PA.  She married first, in about 1873, Benjamin H. Frederick (1852-1891) of Franconia Township; then Amos Rosenberger (1852-1924).  Susan was a member of the Franconia Mennonite Church and is buried there with her first husband.  The dishes may have been a wedding gift at their marriage. Donated to the MHC by their great-granddaughter, Dorothy N. Benner (2016.33.1-26). Flow blue china was similar to traditional ...
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Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville

New acquisition: Scratch-decorated egg

Taking a break from immigrant family stories, this week we're featuring a new acquisition related to the Easter holiday. You may be familiar with the elaborate scratch-decorated eggs of the Lithuanian tradition; but did you know Pennsylvania Germans had a similar practice of scratch decoration? You can see many examples in a chapter on this topic in Alfred Shoemaker's book Eastertide in Pennsylvania (1960). Often decorated eggs were made as presentation pieces or gifts from one friend to another at Easter. This month's featured artifact is a mid-19th-century decorated egg from the Mensch family of Montgomery County. It was donated ...
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New acquisition: Frederick Mennonite Home post card, circa 1905

New acquisition: Frederick Mennonite Home post card, circa 1905

A recent addition to the Mennonite Heritage Center collections is a post card photo of the Mennonite Home for the Aged at Frederick, Montgomery County, circa 1905. Notice the American flag flying prominently from the cupola. In the early 20th century, before the World Wars, churches of the Eastern District Conference often displayed flags. The post card is a gift of MHC Trustee Emeritus Ray K. Hacker. The catalog record can be viewed here. It joins other images in the Frederick Mennonite Home Collection, including this view from around the same time. In this photo, a set of shutters are ...
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Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville, PA

New Acquisition: Provident Bookstore Photo Collection

This month we're featuring a photograph collection recently donated to the MHC: photos of the former Herald/Provident Bookstore in Souderton, mid 1950s-1990s.  The oldest photos date back to the original Herald Bookstore on Main Street and its move in 1957 to the new Souderton Shopping Center at Bethlehem Pike and Route 113. The store was later renamed Provident Bookstore and eventually sold out of Mennonite hands, becoming Berean Christian Stores and finally Lifeway Stores, before closing permanently in February 2016. Long-term employee Edie Hunsberger Randolph saved the photos and brought them to the MHC. These are just a few images ...
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Mennonite Heritage Center

New acquisition: Anna Funk tunebook

For several years, the MHC has featured an "Artifact of the Week" on our Facebook page, and a selection of recent acquisitions on our Library & Collections webpage. In 2017, we'll combine those features into a monthly highlight here on the blog, where we will share the story of an interesting artifact or collection recently donated to the MHC. This month we're featuring a 1786 manuscript tunebook with not one, but TWO beautiful fraktur bookplates and a poetic inscription by the owner of the book, Anna Funk of Franconia Township, Montgomery County. One book, two bookplates When the donor brought ...
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