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Overview

The history of a social or cultural institution often provides researchers with a unique perspective on the development of a nation.

Such is the case with the Archives of Old Christ Church, Philadelphia.This microfilm collection documents the history of Philadelphia's Old Christ Church, a cornerstone for the Protestant Episcopal Church in America. Researchers will be interested in the parallels between the growth of the church and its impact on the city of Philadelphia and the United States.

Founded in 1695, Old Christ Church defined the plan for Episcopal Church Government after the American Revolution. It was also one of the first parishes to embrace the Sunday School movement--a phenomenon described in this catalog. (See The American Sunday School Union Papers, 1817-1915.)

Among topics of research suggested by the minutes, registers, reports, and personal papers in this collection are:

 

  • the Anglican minority in William Penn's Quaker capital
  • the Church of England's appointment of clergy to guide and instruct the congregation
  • the lay power of the vestry vs. the aims of the early rectors
  • the impact of Old Christ Church on Philadelphia, the American Revolution, and the nation as a whole
  • the influence exerted by prominent parishioners such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, and Francis Hopkinson
  • the Civil War and its toll on the Old Christ Church congregation
  • the 1950 designation of Old Christ Church as a national shrine

This collection is also a valuable record for genealogists and local historians researching Pennsylvania and its history, and was originally sponsored by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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