historical architectural drawing

Special Collections

York County History Center Almanac Collection

The York County History Center has a large collection of almanacs printed locally and non-locally, and in both the English and German languages. Almanacs are annual publications that traditionally contained information about weather forecasts, when to plant crops, astronomical data (rising and setting of the sun and moon, eclipses, tides, etc.), astrological predictions, and church festivals and holidays, often in tabular form. Almanacs reflect contemporary culture and folkways, and many of the almanacs in The History Center’s collection reflect Pennsylvania German culture and folkways in particular.

Jeremiah Sullivan Black Collection

Jeremiah Sullivan Black was born in 1810 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1830. In 1851, he was elected to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The newly elected President Buchanan appointed Black as the United States Attorney General, and later, in 1860, he appointed Black as his Secretary of State. After the Civil War, Black vigorously opposed the Congressional Plan for Reconstruction, drafting President Johnson’s message vetoing the Reconstruction Act. Beginning in 1873, Black became involved in revising Pennsylvania’s constitution. His health failed in his later years, and he passed away in 1883 at his mansion, “Brockie”, in York, Pennsylvania and was buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery, also in York.

The Jeremiah Sullivan Black Collection consists of books and pamphlets that were part of Black’s personal library, and are primarily about law and politics.

J.W. Gitt Collection

A native of Hanover, Pennsylvania, Josiah William Gitt was the owner and editor of The Gazette and Daily newspaper from 1915 to 1970. Under Gitt, The Gazette and Daily gained a national reputation for its independent news orientation and editorial positions, often taking left-leaning positions on national political issues. Gitt and his newspaper gained world-wide attention in 1948 when the paper endorsed Henry Wallace in the presidential election, the only U.S. newspaper to do so. The J.W. Gitt Collection contains material from Gitt’s personal papers that he accumulated during his time as the owner of The Gazette and Daily. The collection also contains several boxes of research material compiled by Mary A. Hamilton for her biography of Gitt, Rising from The Wilderness: J.W. Gitt and His Legendary Newspaper, The Gazette and Daily of York, PA, a York County History Center publication.

York County History Center Film Collection

An Archives and Records Management grant funded by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission the York County History Center 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. To date, the reminder of The History Center’s reel-to-reel movie film collection has not been digitized.

Grant Voaden York County Mill Collection

The 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. Each file contains an information sheet that he created to organize his research, miscellaneous documents and photographs. Typical data included in each mill file is the type of mill, date of construction, owners, and other miscellaneous data. Voider’s research files can be accessed during normal library hours.

A selection of these photographs compiled by Voaden are featured in The History Center’s publication Miller’s Tales — The Mills of York County, written by Lila Fourhman-Shaull, Director of the Library & Archives.

Charles A. Williams Architectural Drawings

Charles A. Williams was born in 1873 on his family’s farm near Glatfelter’s Station in York County, Pennsylvania. He attended the York Collegiate Institute. Williams was an associate of A.P. Dise of Glen Rock, PA, designing and building houses. Later he became an associate of G.A. and F.M. Wagman Company of Dallastown, PA, building reinforced steel concrete bridges. He designed numerous bridges for York County, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Railroad, as well as many commercial, public and residential buildings. He is buried at Salem Lutheran Church Cemetery in Jacobus, PA.

The York County History Center’s Library & Archives has a collection of over fifty of Williams’ architectural projects. They were photographed with the Dempwolf Architectural Drawings with funds provided by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). The drawings are invaluable for restoration and historical research.

Dempwolf Architectural Drawings

John Augustus (J.A.) Dempwolf and his brother Reinhardt Dempwolf ran one of the most successful architectural practices ever located in South Central Pennsylvania. J.A. Dempwolf established the firm in 1874 in York, Pennsylvania and was later joined by Reinhardt Dempwolf in 1884. J.A.’s son, Frederick, eventually joined the firm as well. The firm designed residential, commercial and public buildings, most of them located in southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland, although they did many projects throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Many of the Victorian and Edwardian buildings of York were designed by the Dempwolfs, most notably the Central Market House, which still serves as a farmers’ market and eatery today. They had a great influence on York’s architecture from the 1880s through the 1930s, which was spread by seven of their students. all of whom went on to become architects in or near York, PA.

The Dempwolf Architectural Drawings were photographed through a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). The Library & Archives arranged for the photographing of nearly 2,000 original architectural drawings from the 1880s through the 1930s from two York County architectural firms, J.A. Dempwolf and Charles A. Williams. Johnson Imaging Systems, Inc. of Camp Hill, PA used an Opti-Copy camera system to photograph the collection, and a macromaster negative was created from which a print was made. In addition to the original drawings, the Library & Archives has a set of negatives and a set of prints of these photographs, which have also been digitized. The photographs increase public accessibility to the drawings, while preserving the original drawings.