Digitizing the Records of Philadelphia's Historic Congregations

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Carol Smith
Walter R. Rice, Jr.


In 2018, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, awarded a Digitizing Hidden Collections project grant to Christ Church Preservation Trust to digitize the records of eleven of Philadelphia’s historic congregations. Founded by William Penn in 1681 upon the principle of religious liberty, Philadelphia drew worshippers of all denominations. By 1750, the Society of Friends, Christ Church, First Presbyterian, Gloria Dei, Mikveh Israel, and others were providing spiritual inspiration to their various congregations. Their records reflect an emerging society, providing a glimpse into political and social changes before much other official record keeping was in place. These largely hidden records allow access to historical data of great use to scholars, students, and family historians. It is a collaborative project with resources shared generously by the congregations and their partners in this initiative: the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, Atla, and the University of Pennsylvania.

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