African American Collections
Collections related to African Americans are found throughout the Library & Archives, including in family, military, community, and business collections. The guides below are not meant as an exhaustive list, but as a starting place for research. We continue to work to improve our cataloging to make these materials more accessible. Collections will be added to this guide as they are uncovered and when new material related to the African American community is donated. Last updated July 15, 2019.
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.
John Durang Collection
John Durang’s memoir is one of the treasures found in the York County History Center 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 the 19th century. The Memoir of John Durang American Actor 1785-1816 was edited by Alan S. Downer of Princeton University and published for the Historical Society of York County and the American Society for Theatre Research by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 1966. Now 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, with assistance by Tori Lawrence, Durang’s work continues to live on through the website John Durang: Forming America on Stage. Here one can learn about Durang, York resident and early American dancer, actor, manager and artist.
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 archivally 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.
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.