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.

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New acquisition: Royden & Betty Landes collection

New acquisition: Royden & Betty Landes collection

In early July, soon after we re-opened the Heritage Center from COVID-19 closure, we received a collection of rare books, artifacts, manuscripts, and records from the estate of the late Royden A. and Betty Landis Landes, formerly of Lower Salford Township, donated by their son Richard L. Landes. Along with a career in refrigeration, and his role as a minister at Lansdale Mennonite Church, Royden Landes had what I would call a general interest in genealogy and local history, and would occasionally attend local household auctions where he might purchase a few books or family manuscripts. He also inherited, from ...
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New acquisition: Ethiopia memorabilia of Jacob & Mildred Clemens

New acquisition: Ethiopia memorabilia of Jacob & Mildred Clemens

Last year, the family of the late Jacob R. and Mildred Landes Clemens of Lansdale, PA, donated a travel trunk filled with cultural artifacts, memorabilia, photos and papers collected by their parents during two years of relief work in Ethiopia. Jacob and Mildred were sent as relief workers with Mennonite Central Committee to Nazareth, Ethiopia, from November 1946 through 1948. Their trunk of memorabilia had been given to their daughter and son-in-law, Mary Ann and Brian Hagey, who recently gave it to the Mennonite Heritage Center on behalf of the family. I also want to thank Mary Ann and Brian ...
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New acquisition: Laadan and Anne Moyer family artifacts

New acquisition: Laadan and Anne Moyer family artifacts

Once in a great while in our collecting work at the Mennonite Heritage Center, we have the unusual opportunity to sort through and select from a multi-generational family collection in its native setting -- the very homestead where the objects were either made or acquired, used, passed down and preserved. This is the scenario that developed after I received a phone call last May from the owner of a Moyer family homestead in Salford Township, Montgomery County, inviting me to come for a visit and see a “few” things he thought we might be interested in. Philip A. Moyer is ...
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New acquisition: Yoder-Shelly family Bible

New acquisition: Yoder-Shelly family Bible

Many of you know the story of the "Saucon Incident" during the American War for Independence -- eleven men of the Saucon Mennonite congregation in Northampton County were imprisoned for refusing to pledge allegiance to Pennsylvania, and all their moveable property was sold on auction. If you don't know the story, read it here. (The linked book, Sweet Land of Liberty by Francis S. Fox, is available in the MHC Library, along with John Ruth's account of the incident in his book 'Twas Seeding Time, and court documents as published in the Pennsylvania Archives.) Since 1990, the MHC has owned ...
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New acquisition: Clemmer family folk art and documents

New acquisition: Clemmer family folk art and documents

Earlier this year, Harold R. and Doneda Clemmer donated a small collection of folk art and a group of deeds and surveys from the family and homestead of his ancestors, Preacher Christian & Barbara Gehman Clemmer, of Hereford Township, Berks County. The Clemmers were members of the Hereford Mennonite congregation, in Bally, PA, where Christian was ordained a preacher in 1842. We’ll feature some of the folk art and just a selection of the land-related documents from the recent donation in this post. The Mennonite Heritage Center had earlier acquired from a couple of other sources several other artifacts from ...
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New acquisition: 19th-Century Obituaries

New acquisition: 19th-Century Obituaries

In January 2018, the MHC received a surprise package in the mail from Lois Beun Callaghan of Santa Fe, NM, a descendant of John Meyer/Moyer (1799-1877) of Skippack Township. It contained several 19th century German newspapers with Meyer’s name on them -- Der Morgenstern (Doylestown, PA), Der Neutralist (Skippack, PA), and Montgomery County Presse (Lansdale, PA) -- and a separate file of hundreds of obituaries (and some marriage notices) clipped from these papers in the years 1844-1893. We’re thankful to Lois, who grew up in the area, for remembering our community with this gift, a major contribution to the Center’s ...
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New acquisition: "Die Mutter Jesus" fraktur

New acquisition: “Die Mutter Jesus” fraktur

Mennonites, like other Protestants, do not typically venerate special or powerful "saints" canonized by the Roman church, but occasionally, Mennonites and other Pennsylvania Germans would appeal to saints in medieval prayers associated with folk healing. Saint Mary, the mother of Jesus, was especially present in these prayers. In 1830, a local Mennonite created a beautiful piece of fraktur titled "Die Mutter Jesus [The Mother of Jesus]." The Mennonite Heritage Center has exhibited this piece in the past, and happily we were able to purchase it for the permanent collection in October 2018. It is now on display in the Fraktur ...
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New acquisition: Joshua Histand and Enos Gehman papers

New acquisition: Joshua Histand and Enos Gehman papers

Last fall, Sarah Godshall Hunsberger, one of our members in Harrisonburg, Virginia, called to say that she had some old family papers and artifacts to give to us, but wanted to send them with someone from the Souderton area who might be traveling to the Harrisonburg area and back.  Eventually, through the Mennonite “network”, an old wooden box labeled “Keystone Watch Case Company” showed up at the front desk here at the Mennonite Heritage Center.   It was half filled with various old papers, books, and a few photos from Sarah’s family.  When I was finally able to sort through the ...
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New acquisition: Groundhog Lodge #2 records

New acquisition: Groundhog Lodge #2 records

The records, photos and some artifacts of Groundhog Lodge #2 "on the Skippack" were donated to the Mennonite Heritage Center last fall, after the group disbanded earlier in 2018. This Grundsow Lodsch, based in the Souderton-Harleysville area, started in 1937, held its first public Fersommling (gathering and banquet) in February 1938, held its 81st annual banquet in February 2018, and then decided to disband. It was the second of the lodges (or clubs) organized in the wider Groundhog Lodge movement in eastern Pennsylvania. In the aftermath of World War I, American society was suspicious of German culture, traditions and language ...
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New acquisition: Henry & Florence Keeler family photos

New acquisition: Henry & Florence Keeler family photos

In 2017, shortly before her death, Ruth Keeler Longacre donated a photo album and other papers that belonged to her mother, Florence Moyer Keeler (1898-1992) of Towamencin Township. Florence's husband Henry died in a farming accident many years ago in 1946, and Florence never remarried, continuing to live at her husband's family home on Keeler Road with her four unmarried children, Paul, William, Ruth and Laverne. Son Curtis Keeler, who was married to Verna Long, lived in Telford. They were the parents of local news reporter Bob Keeler. The album is well-labeled and paints a warm picture of Florence's life ...
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