The YCHT Library & Archives has several collections that when given were kept intact as a collection. Each special collection focuses on a particular subject; i.e. World War II (Devers Collection; York's four star General Jacob Devers), architectural drawing collections (J.A. Dempwolf Collection, Charles Williams Collection), York County mills (Grant Voaden Collection) and business records. These materials were given at one time and are maintained as a separate collection. Indexes were created and available below. As with all of our material, they are available for research during the Library & Archives hours of operation. Due to the size and depth of most of these special collections; the busines records collection is the only special one in which we offer a limited research by mail service.
Architectural Drawing Collections
Architectural drawing collections include architects J.A. Dempwolf and Charles Williams. There are 1,775 Dempwolf drawings, mostly ink on linen (some with color), and 275 in the Williams collection. The Dempwolf drawings are for buildings erected from about 1880 to 1930, and the Williams collection covers the first quarter of the twentieth century. The Dempwolf drawings are for schools, private residences, factories, churches, department stores, banks, and public and government buildings throughout the southern half of Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. The Williams drawings are for the same types of buildings. In addition, the Williams collection includes seventeen sets of drawings of area highway bridges. With a Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commision grant, these drawings were photographed using an Opti-copy camera system. A macromaster negative and positive contact print were created increasing public accessibility while preserving the originals.
Click here to search the Dempwolf index.
Click here to view the Williams index.
With an abundance of raw materials, readily available sources of power, a willing work force, and advantageous location for commerce, York County was destined to become a center of business and industry. The York County Heritage Trust Library & Archives collection includes many original records of local businesses, organizations, and professional people. A grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission made it possible to survey the records, and to identify, arrange and describe them. The project also included the preparation of finding aids, including a database which is available for patron use and summarized here.
The 1999 merger of the Agricultural and Industrial Museum of York County with the Historical Society of York County, forming York County Heritage Trust, made the identification, cataloging, and creation of finding aids of these business records even more imperative. They joined the masses of records already residing in the Historical Society collections. In addition, the machines, from gristmills to wire cloth (screen) looms that go with the records are now on exhibit at the Industrial Museum. More records were acquired through a merger with the Fire Museum of York County. This project made it possible to preserve the correspondence, ledgers, daybooks and sundry materials that document York County's rich history.
Click here to search the Business Records Collection.
Grant Voaden Mill Collection
Grant Voaden Mill Collection focuses on over 270 York County mills. Grant Voaden, an engineer with S. Morgan Smith, became interested in York County Mills. He had produced an information sheet and organized his data for each mill, the type of mill, date of construction, owners etc.
Click here to search the Grant Voaden Mill Index.
Civil War Soldiers: York/Adams County
In 1860 York County's population was over 68,000, with York Borough comprising over 8,600. Estimates vary, but over 6,200 York Countians served during the Civil War. Following the war, many did not return to York County due to death or relocation. Almost two decades ago, author Dennis W. Brandt began compiling a database of York and Adams County soldiers while working on his first book, From Home Guards to Heroes: the 87th Pennsylvania and Its Civil War Community. This database reflects years he spent in the Library at the YCHT, Washington D.C.'s National Archives, Carlisle's Army War College, and private collections. Gleaning data from the letters, pension files, diaries, cemetery readings and other papers he has accumulated data on nearly 11,000 Civil War soldiers, mostly, but not exclusively, from York and Adams counties.
Click here to learn more about the Civil War Soldiers: York/Adams County Index
Pennsylvania Civil War Civilian Damage Claims (Pennsylvania Border Claims)
Following the Civil War, Pennsylvania residents who lost horses or material goods could file border claims with the state government for damages rendered by the Confederate Army or the state militia. Allowable claims did not include livestock or poultry, and any damages caused by the Union Army of the Potomac had to be filed with the Federal government. This data was compiled by historian Scott L. Mingus Sr. and includes both state and Federal claims, where available and still legible.
Click here to search or learn more about the Pennsylvania Civil War Civilian Damage Claims.
General Jacob Devers Collection
The Devers Collection is the papers of WWII General Jacob Devers. They include correspondence, oral history tapes, photographs, scrapbooks and miscellaneous material placed here by General Devers There are 92 photo albums and 137 5-inch Hollinger boxes containing his papers, a total of 110 linear feet of material. An index that was created in 1992 is found next to Devers Box # 137.
Click here to view search the General Jacob Devers Papers Collection.
General Thomas E. Griess Research Collection
The Griess Research Collection is the collection of research that retired Army Brigadier General Thomas E. Griess had conducted on General Jacob L. Devers. This collection includes Brig. Gen. Griess' research using the Devers Collection and also includes oral histories with General Devers. His research was done with the intention of writing a biography on General Devers, which never came to fruition. This collection was given in 2005 by West Point Military Academy.
Click here to view an inventory of the General Thomas E. Griess Research Collection.
Movie Film Collection
Movie Film Collection. Recently awarded an Archives and Records Management grant funded by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission the York County Heritage Trust digitally transferred and archival stored thirty-five reels of silent 16mm film. Totally over 13,000 feet this film collection focuses on events and gatherings in York County ranging from 1923 to 1960. The majority of this collection was filmed and shown by a York County couple, Charles Noss and his wife Carrye. In addition to the Noss films, there were seven reels totaling over 2,700 feet that documented York City in 1941. The final 800 feet of film converted were promotional films by George Z. Byler for the Thompson Business College. They captured 1940 business and classroom scenes for both the York and Harrisburg area. This grant also provided for a new computer in the Library & Archives reading room to provide public access.
Click here to view an inventory of the Movie Film Collection.
John Durang's memoir is one of the treasures found in the York County Heritage Trust Library & Archives. This volume, written sometime after 1816, came to the Historical Society of York County through the efforts of James Shettel, a Historical Society board member and supporter. It captures Durang's experiences on the American stage during the early days of the19th century.
The American Society for Theatre Research was approached by the Historical Society of York County through the efforts of Alan S. Downer of Princeton University and an agreement was made. The Memoir of John Durang American Actor 1785-1816 was published in 1966 for the Historical Society of York County and the American Society for Theatre Research by the University of Pittsburg Press.
Through the efforts of Lynn Matluck Brooks, Director of the Dance Program and co-editor of Dance Chronicle: Studies in Dance and the Related Arts at Franklin & Marshall College, Durang's work continues to live. Assisted by Tori Lawrence, she has created the website John Durang: Forming America on Stage. Here one can learn about Durang, an American dancer, actor, manager and artist. Listen to his music and enjoy the vibrant colors of his watercolors.
Click here to view the John Durang website.