Universal York

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New local history resources on the York County Heritage Trust website

York Square, December 1963  (Gazette and Daily photo)
York Square, December 1963
(Gazette and Daily photo)

The York County Heritage Trust Library and Archives has recently added four databases to the YCHT website.

For nearly 15 years YCHT has been entering cataloging and description information for its vast collections of manuscripts, photographs, postcards, books, objects and other items, such as architectural drawings, into PastPerfect. This software was developed for archival and museum collections and is used by thousands of institutions worldwide. For nearly as long, staff and volunteers have also been scanning the individual items and adding the digital images to the records.

These finding aids have only been available in house, but a recent grant from the Anne M. and Philip H. Glatfelter, III Family Foundation has made possible the purchase of on-line components needed for sharing many of these images with the world.

The first four collections, now available at www.yorkheritage.org are York City Streets and Alleys, Family Bible collection, the Dempwolf Architectural Drawing collection and the York County Postcard collection, four of the most used visual collections at YCHT.

The York City street scenes include streetscapes, individual buildings and events taking place on identified streets. The photos date from the 1870s until present, older ones being in the majority.

Postcard view of Red Lion c.1917
Postcard view of Red Lion c.1917

The postcard collection is a nice complement to the street scenes. They date from the late 1800s to well past the middle of the 20th century. Some are in color, showing some street scenes, landscapes, buildings, monuments and other items of interest throughout York County long before the widespread use of color photography.

Part of one page from a Smyser-Spangler family Bible.
Part of one page from a Smyser-Spangler family Bible.

The YCHT Library and Archives accepted large family Bibles until the 1970s, when it ran out of space to properly house them. Now YCHT is just as anxious to receive the family information, usually recorded on special pages at the center of the hefty volumes, but asks instead for photocopies, readable photos or transcriptions of that information. The digital images now on the website are from the Bibles presented before the 1970s. They include the title page of each Bible, as well as any births, baptisms, marriages and deaths recorded therein.

Drawing for the George S. Schmidt house at George and Springettsbury, York
Drawing for the George S. Schmidt house at George and Springettsbury, York

One of YCHT’s most used special collections is images of original architectural drawings from the Dempwolf firm, the leading architects in the area from the 1880s through the 1930s. These nearly 2,000 drawings, most ink on linen and some hand colored, show the striking perspectives and intricate floor plans of many of the homes, churches, schools, factories, commercial buildings and public buildings that we still admire today.

As cataloging and scanning continue, more images will be online in the future. If you are interested in helping catalog or scan items in the YCHT Library and Archives extensive collections, contact the Director of the Library and Archives, Lila Fourhman-Shaull lfourhman-shaull@yorkheritage.org or Assistant Director of the Library and Archives, Amanda Eveler aeveler@yorkheritage.org