Philadelphia's Historic Congregations - Political, Social and Cultural Developments in Philadelphia's early congregations

Material Description

The materials nominated for digitization comprise 40,000 records from Philadelphia's oldest congregations, ranging in date from 1677 to 1865. Collectively, the materials include: church membership files as well as baptism, circumcision, marriage, bar/bat mitzvahs, and burial records. Additionally, the collections represent organizational information such as governing body records: meeting minutes, charters, land grants, accounts and correspondence as well as sermons. All materials continue to reside with the institutions who created them with a few notable exceptions - the Presbyterian Historical Society now maintains the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Presbyterian Church records and the St. Paul's records (no longer an active congregation) are presently housed at the Episcopal Diocesan archives. Project relevance has been categorized into three areas: Prominent ministers who were at the same time prominent civic leaders: Jacob Duche (Christ Church), William White (Christ Church), George Duffield (Third Presbyterian) - all served as Chaplains for the Continental Congress; Frances Alison (First Presbyterian) most prominent Presbyterian minister of the time and charter member of the American Philosophical Society; Gilbert Tennet (First pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church); Gershom Mendes Seizas (Mikveh Israel) First native born Jewish minister in the United States; and Francis Asbury (First Methodist Church Bishop). Prominent people include Benjamin Franklin; Francis Hopkinson; Benjamin Rush; Robert Morris; William Smith; John Ross; Absalom Jones; Richard Allen; Rebecca Gratz who created the Philadelphia Orphan Asylum; Nathan and Benjamin Levy who were merchants; and Moses Aaron Dropsie, cultural leader. Prominent events include: the Revolutionary War; early Philadelphia colonial history; the founding of America; religious freedom; immigration and assimilation of early settlers; the formation of new religions including Episcopal, African Episcopal and African Methodist; the Civil War; public health epidemics such as yellow fever and small pox; and the early creation of social services.

Year Added:



Christ Church Preservation Trust


Ms. Carol Smith
Christ Church

Mr. Allan Hasbrouck
Christ Church Preservation Trust

Collaborating Institution(s)

St. George's Methodist Church; Gloria Dei; Episcopal Dioceses Archives; Presbyterian Historical Society; St. Peter's Episcopal Church; Mikveh Israel

Date Range

1708 - 1708

Geographic Scope



  • 40000 Manuscripts