Collections of Pennypacker Mills

Mill and Covered Bridge painting
Pennypacker Mills Collections

Pennypacker Mills contains a uniquely well documented collection that reflects the interests of Samuel W. Pennypacker (1843-1916), his term as governor of Pennsylvania (1903-1907), the construction of the State Capitol, Pennsylvania history, family history and Pennsylvania German culture. Most of the furnishings are on display in the rooms of the mansion. In addition, the collections include a vast archival and library collection dating from 1568-1980 with the majority being from 1830-1916.

Archival Collection: Samuel kept his correspondence including more than 25,000 letters, and copybooks containing more than 13,000 tissue paper copies of letters he wrote. Samuel collected documents for autographs, including more than 300 deeds of eastern Pennsylvania dating from 1682 to 1915. His genealogy of the Pennypacker family includes the descendants of Hendrick and Eve Pannebecker, the first family members in America. The collection includes Samuel’s notes and writings on various family members.

Photograph collection: The archives contain more than 1700 photographs of the family and places they visited, as well as postcard images of local sites in the Perkiomen region. Examples include daguerreotypes, tintypes, and carte de visites to silver gelatins and color slides.

Library collection: Pennypacker was an internationally known book collector and author. Today, the collection contains more than 3700 books and pamphlets, of which many relate to the history of Pennsylvania. The collection includes all of his published materials and many of his original manuscripts.

Furniture and furnishings collection: Many of the objects in the house were of historical significance to Samuel and his family, and Pennsylvania history. Most of the furniture dates to the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. Samuel researched many of the historic items and labeled them with information about the owner or maker. Most of the textiles and clothing date from 1840 to 1920.

Art collection: On display in the mansion are many pieces of art including paintings, watercolors, prints, frakturs and samplers. Samuel’s oldest daughter Josephine had training in art and there are many of her pieces including watercolors, charcoals, oil paintings, and pencil sketches, as well as work by local landscape and portrait artists.

In addition, the collection includes items Samuel W. Pennypacker collected such as campaign pins, arrowheads, Native American stone tools, Revolutionary War items, and Civil War artifacts including items from his cousin, Civil War General Galusha Pennypacker. Site documentation includes the plans and plantings list from the 1901 landscape designed by Thomas Meehan & Sons, and architectural drawings, specifications and documentation for the 1900 renovation of the mansion by architect Arthur Brockie.

The materials listed above are available to researchers by appointment. In addition to the collections at Pennypacker Mills, researchers may want to check the Samuel W. Pennypacker Papers in Manuscript Group 171 at the Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg. The state archives lists 48 cubic feet of materials. Pennypacker Mills actively collects items that were owned by Governor Pennypacker and his immediate family, and items that were used on or relate to the property.