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John & Gertrude Pitcairn Papers

Identifier: Mss.001

Scope and Contents

The John & Gertrude Pitcairn papers contain correspondence, diaries, notebooks, ledgers and memorabilia pertaining to the personal, public and business life of John and Gertrude Starkey Pitcairn.  This includes correspondence regarding the Swedenborgian Church, the Academy of the New Church, Cairnwood Estate, Cairnwood Farms, the Anti-Vaccination movement, homeopathy and the iron, coal, gas, oil and railroad industry.  The collection also contains a large accumulation of personal items and memorabilia


  • Created: 1855-1917
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1865-1916
  • Other: Date acquired: 19800101


Conditions Governing Access

Qualified researchers have unrestricted access to this collection

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is held by the Academy of the New Church.  All requests for reproduction, dissemination, display or publication should be directed in writing to the Archivist, Academy of the New Church

Academy Archivist PO Box 740 Bryn Athyn, PA 19009-0740



15.00 Linear Feet

3.00 Linear Feet

25.00 Linear Feet

6.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The collection is divided into five series, each series contains a variable number of boxes. Series 1 contains letters to and from John Pitcairn.  It is boxed chronologically, with each box divided into four categories: Personal, Church and Academy, Business To and Business From.  Personal letters folders contain letters from John Pitcairn's immediate and extended family.  Church and Academy letters folders contain correspondence regarding the Swedenborgian Church and the Academy movement within the Church.  Business To and Business From folders contain correspondence with business associates in the railroad, oil, gas, coal, plate glass and other industries with which John Pitcairn was involved.  Also included in this series are Gertrude Starkey Pitcairn's letters to her sister Dora and her friend Maria Hogan as well as a collection of John Pitcairn's letters to his close friend Walter C. Childs. Series 2 contains various ledgers, diaries, notebooks and account books used by John Pitcairn or his employees at Cairnwood. Series 3 contains special subject information such as pamphlets and travel information, Pitcairn's language studies, a particularly important legal case and letters from important men of his time involved with art, politics and business.  Series 4 contains memorabilia and personal items owned by John Pitcairn.  These items range from his fishing rod and mechanical check writer to his top hat and Meerschaum pipe, as well as descriptions of the Centennial Exposition in 1877. Series 5 contains black-and-white photographs of John Pitcairn, his family and associates

Physical Access Requirements

This collection is housed in Glencairn Museum and is available for research by appointment only.  Contact the Archvist by phone or e-mail.


Technical Access Requirements

There are no technological requirements for using this collection.

Custodial History

This material remained in the custody of the descendants after the death of John Pitcairn.  Raymond Pitcairn, the eldest son, continued to live with his wife and family in the Cairnwood estate after the death of his father.  John Pitcairn's belongings and papers were stored in closets, boxes and on shelves in Cairnwood and some were later moved to Glencairn after its completion.  After Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn moved into Glencairn, Raymond's daughter Gabrielle and her husband Willard Pendleton lived in Cairnwood from 1945 until near 1980 when the home was donated (along with Glencairn) to the Academy of the New Church.  The house remained unoccupied until 1995.  In the early 1980s, it was decided that Walter C. Childs, II would organize the papers and belongings of John Pitcairn.  These materials were housed in Cairnwood's garden house which was named the John & Gertrude Pitcairn Archives.  Walter C. Childs, II was assisted later and then suceeded by Jerome Sellner.  In 2007, Jerome Sellner retired and was suceeded by Gregory Jackson.  All of these archivists served in a volunteer capacity.  In 2008, Gregory Jackson was hired as a full-time archivist for all of the collections belonging to the Academy of the New Church.  It was decided in 2008 that the Garden House would be re-purposed and in 2009, the collections were inventoried and removed (still in progress) for renovation of the building.  Some of the memorabilia collection will be returned to the Garden House on long-term loan.      In 2006, the John Pitciarn letters were photocopied, re-housed and moved to the Glencairn Museum Archives facility.  In 2009, all special subject binders were disassembled, the material was re-housed with photocopied or original front matter and stored with the rest of the John Pitcairn letters in Glencairn Museum Archives.

Source of Acquisition

The Estate of Raymond & Mildred Pitcairn

Method of Acquisition

The material was included in the donation (by the descendants of John & Gertrude Pitcairn and Raymond & Mildred Pitcairn) of John Pitcairn's Estate, Cairnwood and Raymond Pitcairn's home, Glencairn.  Legal documents pertaining to this donation are held by the Academy of the New Church.

Appraisal Information

There is no scheduled re-appraisal or de-accession for any materials in this collection.  It is assumed that no materials from this collection will be de-accessioned.

Accruals and Additions

The John & Gertrude Pitcairn Papers is considered a complete collection.  Occasionally an item or small group of items will be offered for inclusion in the collection by a descendant. 1/27/2010 - John Pitcairn primary and secondary material that had been held in the ANC Archives is accrued to the this collection.  The following items are being accrued: John Pitcairn Diary for 1857, 1855-58 (fragments), 1860-61, 1866, 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1871, 1872, 1873, 1876, 1875&77 (Europe), 1878-79, 82,83, 1884, 1890-91, Pocket Diary for Dec 1877-Feb 1878, part of 1886, part of 1891, part of 1908 John Pitcairn correspondence, primarily to Walter Childs: 1 envelope containing 34 unique correspondences and several copies.(1882-84) 1 envelope containing 26 unique correspondences and 1 copy of another letter  (1885-86). 1 envelope containing 22 unique correspondences (1887). 1 envelope containing 25 unique correspondences (1888-89). 1 envelope containing 33 unique correspondences and several fragments or incomplete letters. (1908-16) 1 envelope containing 27 unique correspondences and severa fragments or incomplete letters. (1877-1881) Correspondence "from" John Pitcairn to various persons dating from 10/11/1874 to 6/26/1916 in four folders, dated accordingly. Two folders of pages from John Pitcairn's Letter Press Books, one contains letters 1888-1889 the other 1889 to ND, including a discourse on Swedenborg's Doctrine of Nature. Miscellaneous - -5 Pocket Notebooks re: Geology & Mining, miscellaneous (2), plate glass, investments 1885-87. -Report on the "Phrenololgical Character of John Pitcairn" - 1/19/1867. -envelope containing speech or toast notes regarding Rev. W. F. Pendleton's 60th birthday and the turning over of deeds held by John Pitcairn of ANC properties to the Academy Corporation. 6/30/2010  Accrued to the collection - two framed photograps, c. 1885.  One photograph is recognizable as Gertrude Starkey (Pitcairn).  The other is identified by the donor as Evaline Grant Davis, grandmother of Clara Davis Pitcairn (Mrs. Harold Pitcairn).  These photographs were in the custody of Collections Manager (Bret Bostock) from approximately 2007 until the present.  The donor is Mrs. Judy Pitcairn Rhodes (daughter of Harold and Clara Davis Pitcairn).  They were received by the archives on this date and have been boxed and entered into the collections. 3/09/2011  Accrued to the collection - two copies each of two blueprints entitled "Plan of lots for John Pitcairn in Huntingdon Valley" (1897) and "Plan of Bryn Athyn Land belonging to John Pitcairn" (1914).  These items were donated by Judy Hyatt along with other material for the Raymond & Mildred Pitcairn Papers and papers to be held for a future Hubert Hyatt Papers. 3/24/2011  Accrued to the collection - poem written by John Pitcairn to "Mr. & Mrs. Boericke" on the occasion of their silver wedding anniversary.  Placed in 1916 & nd Church & Academy folder. 5/26/2011  Accrued to the collection two letters from Gertrude Pitcairn to (likely) Maria Hogan.  One is dated Jan 16, 1881 and the other dated October 12, 1886. 6/8/2012  Accrued to the collection - 3 boxes of letters, newspapers and personal items belonging to John Pitcairn.  Donated by Gordon and Jill Prichett.  Jill Prichett is the daughter of Willard Pendleton and Gabriele Pitcairn Pendleton and great-grandaughter of John and Gertrude Pitcairn.  Box listings are in order of inventory. Box 1 Photo album of Petropolis (Brazil?) Booklet - "Table Talk" culinary fashions 1912 Programs - ANC Commencement Wallet w/ "credit" letter (card) Bookmark - All Around Robin Hood's Barn Report Cards - Vera & Raymond Pitcairn (and other school-related items) Perpetual Calendars Booklet - "Chafing Dish Cookery" Testimonials for Dr. George R. Starkey Map of Pittsburgh Booklet - Du Maurier's "Pictures of English Society" Printing block - image of George R. Starkey(?) Box of sample toiletries Certificates of antiquity - in envelope marked RP from Dr. Bjork. Photos - one of Cairnwood's hall and one of an unknown piece of stained glass Associated Producers Reports - in envelope to John Pitcairn, Esq. Letters of condolence on Gertrude Starkey Pitcairn's death (approximately 60) Booklet - "The Crucible" (2) Booklet - "The Lord our Mediator" Catologo de Fotografias Booklet - "Novae Ecclasiae - Swedenborg" 1859 (in Latin) Booklet - "Hampton's Message" 1916 Booklet - "How to Bottom a Welted Shoe" (to Theo from Frank West) Printing plate - image of John Pitcairn Pad of "Paper Slate" Book - "Reveries of a Bachelor" Printing plate - unknown image (possibly George R. Starkey) Signature stamp Package of "Blanks Used by Agents, Conductors & Baggage Masters" Empty Jewelry cases (3 marked Aheez Khayat - Rare Egyptian/Greek Artifacts) 12 - removed from collection Cloth Pouches (1 brown leather, 1 Crown Royal, 1 Fred Cooper, Inc.) 3 - removed from collection Cookbooks (2) marked as belonged to Agnes Snowden, mother of Elizabeth Hale. Package of Newspaper clippings (some mouse-chewed) Package of receipts - 1884 Rolled blueprint for Packard(?) Shoehorn(?) Parasol handle(?) Pen holder (for metal nib) Pkg of letters marked J.P. Sellars Letter from Lillian Beekman 1905 Spectacle case (empty) Box 2 Engineer's and Mechanic's Pocket Book in leather case Business cards, in envelope Railroad Passes (52) Stack of Business correspondence, reports, statements Wedding invitations (6), some with railroad passes Letters of appointment/decline from George Starkey Stack of newspapers & clippings. Copies of The New Philosophy (8) Package of "Misc. Papers of JP" 1872 "Coinage Catechism" (3) "Reply to lecture of C.J. Whittington (and Whittington's reply to that) Package of Business Letters (4th city desk?) Benade Genealogy Box 3 Metal lockbox (no key) containing homeopathic medicine bottles (21), some empty & personal/business correspondence Maps of Boston Address Book Receipts Newspaper Clippings Christmas Cards & Thank You letters Will of G. G. Starkey Crayon sketch Invitation to Wannamaker's Grand Opening (1911) Notes in Latin and Hebrew Scratch paper w/mathematical computations Booklet - "Prospectus of Institute of Musical Art" Handwritten Hymn Class "speech" regarding "Bostock" (E.C. Bostock?  Author & Date unknown) Booklet "Cook's International Traveling Tickets" empty (2) Book - "Impunity Jane" Book - Foldable, cloth-backed map of California and Nevada Personal/business letters/cards to R.P. & school notes Script book for Wagner's "Die Walkure" Advertising circular Newspaper - Philadelphia Evening Bulletin May 26, 1905 Newspaper - Philadelphia Evening Bulletin May 30, 1905 Notes in Greek Willow Grove Park Concert Programs (12) Booklet "Historical Account of Edinburgh Castle" Picture cards (Christmas) from British Museum (4 packs of six cards each) Swain Nelson letters (2) Concert programs (various) Box of "John Pitcairn" book plates (Ex Libris) Wooden toys marked "Japan" Wooden/Wire bookstand - removed from collection Parasol, folding, black Booklet - "US Circuit Court of Appeals - Samuel F. Barr vs. PPG" Portfolio - Tiffany Studios Booklet - "Little Journeys" (2) Book - "Aeolilan Pipe Organ" Book - "99 Practical Methods of Utilizing Boiled Beef" Booklet - "The Philistines" (2) Booklet - "Through 100 years" Black, Starr & Frost Jewelers Pad of paper, blank JP Telegraph code  book 10/31/2013 - Accrued to the collection a small amount of material related to John Pitcairn's relationship with Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company.  This material was in possession of Lachlan Pitcairn (grandson of John Pitcairn) and was presented to the Archives by his personal secretary.  The material consists of a small amount of correspondence, memo books and hand-written notes along with a printed copy of John Pitcairn's testimony before the United States Industrial Committee.>/p>

4/18/2018 Clark Pitcairn donated six folders containing documents related to Cairnwood Farms. These were deposited in that sub-series which is under the Special Subjects series. Also twenty-one folders containing documents related to business or property aggreements. These were filed with the Agreements/Contracts subseries under Special Subjects.

Existence and Location of Originals

Rack 4B, Bay 1-2. Architectural drawings for this collection are in Rack 1, Bay 1, Flat File.

There is a complete copy of the Series 1 correspondence of John and Gertrude Pitcairn available for study

Related Materials

This material is closely related to the Raymond & Mildred Pitcairn Papers.  After the death of John Pitcairn, Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn and family continued the operation of Cairnwood Farm and under Raymond's supervision, the Bryn Athyn Cathedral, funded mainly by John Pitcairn, was completed.  In addition, Raymond Pitcairn was the executor of his father's estate, so many of the financial transactions that occurred after John Pitcairns death will be found in the Raymond & Mildred Pitcairn Papers. Files (.pdf) containing the Pitcairn Clan and family genealogy can be found on the Archives Serve under the Theodore Pitcairn Family Collection Mss.005.089. Ask the archivist for access to these files.

Separated Materials

Some of the memorabilia collection remains at the Garden House, the former John & Gertrude Pitcairn Archives.

Processing Information

Series six of this collection was formerly located in the Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn Papers.

Note: Architectural drawings cataloged in Jan 2010 using original arrangement.  Intent is to impose arrangement as time and manpower permits.

Archon Finding Aid Title
Gregory Jackson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Bryn Athyn Historic District Archives at Glencairn Museum Repository

PO Box 757
Bryn Athyn PA 19009-0757 Country Code 0