Conduct Research


The Cliveden Archives, made up of the Chew Family Papers contain over 230,000 documents, and are held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The vast majority of these documents are not digitized, but this small selection relating to the enslavement of people by the Chew family can be seen here: Clivedon Collections. The major may be visited at the Historical Society. Cliveden also retains significant collections, which include artifacts, data from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, as well as buildings and landscapes. These collections have been almost entirely digitized. To view, click on this link: Historical Society archives.

Germantown Historical Society

The Museum at GHS houses over 25,000 pieces, including a major costume collection of over 5,000. ceramics and glassware, portraits and paintings, furniture, clocks, sculpture, toys and games, housewares, quilts and samplers, and jewelry and accessories. The Pat Henning Library and Archives at GHS is larger, featuring over 75,000 items—books, maps, manuscripts, scrapbooks, more than 8,000 photographs, printed ephemera, and periodicals including unique runs of 19th century Germantown newspapers. The Museum is also home to growing collections of oral histories documenting everyday life in 20th and 21st century Germantown, including firsthand accounts relating to the First and Second Great Migrations of southern African Americans to northern cities.For a more detailed listing of GHS special collections click here: Germantown Historical Society Archives. For access to the GHS online databases click here:


At Grumblethorpe, school groups and tours learn about the Wister family and their contributions to Philadelphia and American history. The rooms and objects that show how Grumblethorpe looked during the 18th century are the spaces for discussions about the Wisters and Philadelphia during the American Revolution. These include talking about Sally Wister’s Journal, the Occupation of Philadelphia, and John Wister’s experience in occupied Philadelphia. The library and the garden showcase the 19th century scientific pursuits of Charles Wister Sr. and Charles Wister Jr. Both Wisters kept written and pictorial records of their farm and engagement in the Philadelphia science community.

The collection and archives for Grumblethorpe are on site in Germantown and in the PhilaLandmarks office in the Hill-Physick House. The objects at Grumblethorpe are used to interpret the house to the 18th and 19th century. These include tall case clocks, armchairs, bedsteads, paintings, and Frances Anne Wister’s childhood dollhouse. The garden has flower beds with plants appropriate for the 18th and 19th centuries, a ginkgo tree planted around 1830, a historic pear tree, and the foundations to the observatory and ice house. Archival material available for research is at the PhilaLandmarks administrative office at 321 S. 4th Street. The Grumblethorpe archives spans the date range of the 18th to the 20th century and includes documents and images of the Wisters, Grumblethorpe, and Germantown,. There are also early Grumblethorpe House Committee administrative records. The images are prints and photographs of Wister family members as early as the 1860s, Grumblethorpe and its gardens, and Germantown. The manuscripts include letters and memos from the Wister family, account books, journals, and copybooks. Notable objects are two volumes of Sally Wister’s personal writings, weather records from Charles Sr. and Charles Jr., Charles Sr. science lecture notes, and Charles Jr.’s photographs and drawings of Grumblethorpe.

Johnson House

The Archives of Johnson House Historic Site (JHHS) comprises the non-current business/administrative records that date from the1980s, when the Johnson House, in collaboration with Cliveden of the National Trust, offered local schools the first program to highlight the role of African Americans in Philadelphia’s history. The records continue to the present and include the years when those administering the house applied for and received designation of the House as a National Historic Landmark (1997). The Special Collections consists of 5 discrete collections of 18th , 19th , and 2 th century primary and secondary documents, images, audio/visual media, and other materials belonging or related to the early Johnson family; the underground railroad, slavery, and abolition generally; and the Woman’s Club of Germantown, whose members purchased the house in the early 20 th century and occupied it until the 1980s. The Special Collections materials were processed with a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The JHHS Special Collections database can be accessed through the Johnson House Historic Site website, and will be available publicly by mid-September, 2023.

Lest We Forget Slavery

The Lest We Forget Slavery Musuem is the only museum in Philadelphia with actual tools of enslavement from the transatlantic slave trade, restraints, Bill of Sale documents, and Jim Crow objects. These materials and educational materials are available in the museum and online.


The Rittenhousetown Archives are an extensive collection of papers, photos, documents, and objects.  As a level 1 arboretum, certain plants and trees are also documented. The Archives have been partially digitized, but are mostly available in paper at the site.


The collection at Stenton includes over 1,200 objects, ranging from outstanding examples of early American furnishings and the decorative arts, many of which descended through the Logan family, to archaeological artifacts and a farm tool collection.  Stenton also has an archive of administrative records and early documents and manuscripts. The collection is in the process of being digitized and will soon be accessible on Stenton’s website


Wyck’s collection contains over 10,000 historic objects that date from 1690-1973, all of which have provenance to the Quaker Wistar-Haines family that lived at Wyck for 283 years. Wyck has a little bit of everything – fine furniture and decorative arts, everyday utilitarian items, and personal artifacts like clothing, drawings, and school books. Objects speak both to the intimate, everyday life of the family and to larger national narratives like the history of scientific discovery, women’s history, history of childhood, horticulture, and more.  The Wyck Papers, a collection of over 100,000 manuscripts collected by the Wistar-Haines family, are accessible to researchers at the American Philosophical Society. Copies of a selection of the papers are available at Wyck. To make a research appointment, email or call 215-848-1690.