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Bryn Athyn Community Collection

Identifier: Mss.004

Scope and Contents

This collection encompasses the establishment of the Village and then the Borough of Bryn Athyn, PA including early Village Council records, material regarding local organizations, social life and oral histories.  It does NOT contain any official records of the Borough after incorporation.

Materials included in the collection are the minutes and other material generated by the Village Association, early deeds to many of the properties, programs from theater productions and orchestral programs, information generated by the Moonwatch club (information about tracking celetial bodies), minutes from the garden club, etc.  There is even information (probably generated by mothers/fathers in the church) about social mores and behavioral expectations.  Some early maps and atlases are also available.


  • 1893-present
  • Date acquired: 20080701

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access


Biographical or Historical Information

Bryn Athyn was settled beginning around 1895 when members of the Philadelphia Swedenborgian Church moved to the area. For more than a decade, Philadelphians, including these "New Churchmen" visited Alnwick Grove park to enjoy fishing, boating and even dancing.  Alnwick Grove park was near the Bethayres train station on the Philadelphia and Newtown line, makeing the area easily accessible from the city.  In the late 1880's, industrialist John Pitcairn began buying land (mostly farmland), eventually accumulating approximately 550 acres.  Some of this land he kept for himself and his family, some he sold to other New Churchmen and some he donated to the Academy of the New Church to be used for school buildings.

As more people began to arrive in the area, a Village Association was formed to deal with road, sewer and utility issues.  The name Bryn Athyn was chosen - a Welsh term believed to mean "Hill of Cohesion (or Unity)."  As the village continued to grow, the village association applied to become a burough to enable them to self-govern.  In addition to the usual municipal institutions (fire department, police, etc.) the residents formed many groups and clubs to enrich their cultural lives.  Many of these groups still exist today, although some have changed form (boys club became the Boy Scouts, the local theater group became B-Act, etc.) and some have disappeared althogether.

Note written by


18.00 Linear Feet


The community of Bryn Athyn was formed in the late 19th century by members of the Philladelphia Swedenborgian Church (New Church).  This collection documents the early Village Association (before becoming a Burough) as well as the various community groups, old and new, that sprang up in the community.  This collection does not contain any official records of the Borough of Bryn Athyn.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged into two series:

Series 1 - History

    Sub-series 1 Village Association

    Sub-series 2  Deeds

    Sub-series 3  Community History

Series 2 - Groups & Clubs

Source of Acquisition


Method of Acquisition

Donations and gifts.

Appraisal Information

Indefinite retention.

Accruals and Additions

Accruals are regular and usually informal. Information from various community groups is collected or received in various ways from various staff and donors and added to the collection.

Existence and Location of Originals

multi-part note content

Related Materials

multi-part note content

Archon Finding Aid Title Mss.004
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 Academy of the New Church Archives Repository

PO Box 740
Bryn Athyn PA 19009 USA