Vintage Germantowne Crier masthead, circa 1956

The Germantown Crier has its origins as a newsletter first published in 1946 by the Germantown Historical Society. It was reworked into a journal format, and the first issue was published in the winter of 1949. Since then, a new issue has been released multiple times each year, and features articles covering various aspects of Germantown history. It occasionally features the works of Germantown writers and artists. The Crier is currently released twice a year in spring and fall.

Please Note: As some of the articles are almost 70 years old, they were written at a time when our community and country had different attitudes towards history, race and ethnicity. This should be kept in mind when reading the articles, and their content should be considered in the historical context in which they were written.

We will be sharing vintage articles from the Crier here in a virtual library – adding a new article regularly throughout the year!

The Germantown Crier is a benefit of your membership with Historic Germantown. You can find out more information, JOIN or DONATE here.

Funding for our organization and the e-publication of Germantown Crier articles is supported in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

 

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Germantown Crier, Spring 2021

Special focus edition of the Crier featuring multiple articles on 19th and early 20th century African American businessman and philanthropist, John S. Trower

  • In Celebration of John S. Trower, His Legacy, And Achievements
  • The Estate of John S. Trower (1849-1911), Caterer and Restauranteur of Germantown by Oscar Beisert
  • John S. Trower and His Legacy as Discussed in Booker T. Washington’s The Negro in Business by Supreme Dow
  • John S. Trower and His Catering Business by Stacey Swigart
  • In Memoriam: Eugene Glenn Stackhouse, A Man for All Seasons by Dianne Tzouras
  • Black Writers Museum by Supreme Dow

Contributed by David R. Contasta, this article describes roots of colonial revivalism in Germantown.

Slave Catcher Thwarted, Spring 1991

“An excerpt from the Germantown Telegraph for December 20, 1837, briefly noting the capture and release of a fugitive slave named Margaret Brooke or Brooks”

Somersville Neighborhood of Germantown, 1993

An article on the neighborhood known as Somersville. It was located in what was East Germantown at the intersection of Church Lane and Limekiln Pike. Early references indicate that, at the turn of the 20th century, it was a village of 38 homes. It was authored by LeRoy Council (at the time it was written, aged 52) and a lifelong resident of the section of Germantown.

Charlotte Cardeza Titanic Survivor Spring 1998

A history of Charlotte “Lottie” Wardle Drake Cardeza (aka Mrs. James Warburton Martinez Cardeza), a resident of Montebello in Germantown and her survival – along with her son Thomas and staff Anna Ward and Louis Gustave Joseph Lesueur.
By Linda Greaves.

90th Anniversary – The Site & Relic Society of Germantown Winter, 1989/90

A special compendium of articles from the founding of The Site & Relic Society of Germantown which later became the Germantown Historical Society.

  • Minutes of the First Meetings
  • The Founders and First Officers
  • Loan Exhibition of Colonial Relics, 1902

Germantown Crier Fall 2020

Because of COVID, we were unable to publish the Spring 2020 Crier this year. We decided to create a double edition, adding the Spring Crier to the Fall Crier and share the full edition here.  Articles include the following:

  • Migration and Immigration Trends in Germantown from 1970 – 2018
  • The 1918 Influenza Pandemic, as Documented by the Germantown Independent Gazette
  • Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery

The Laurens by Edwin Iwanicki, September 1964

An article on the interesting history of 6043 Germantown Avenue. By Edwin Iwanicki.

Mount Airy in Philadelphia: A Pioneering Community, Winter 1976

A brief, yet interesting history of the community of Mount Airy in the Old German Township by a freelance author, Phyllis Knapp Thomas.

Kelpius and His Followers, May 1953 

Written by Dr. H.V. Gummere, the eminent astronomer and scientist who died on February 9, 1949. He was an alumnus of Haverford and Penn Charter, of which his son, John was headmaster. He taught at Haverford, Ursinus and Drexel, was a member of many scientific societies, a distinguished author, and an elder of the Friends Meeting. The article was submitted by his widow for publishing in the Crier in 1953. Note the postscript at the end of the article for more info.

The Rittenhouse Paper Mill and Its Founders, March and June 1952

This article was split into two parts – the first part was published in the March, 1952 edition of the Crier and the second in the June, 1952 edition. The article was written by George Allen. Both are included in the link above.

Charles Willson Peale’s Farm and Garden at Belfield, Spring 1983

A brief history of Belfield – the historic house once owned by American artist, soldier, scientist, inventor, politician and naturalist – Charles Willson Peale. From the Tercentary edition of the Germantown Crier, written by Geraldine Duclow.

The Greens of Germantown Drayton, March 1963

Article about green spaces in Germantown by Drayton S. Bryant

Historical Relationship of Germantown and the Skippack, Spring 1970

Article by Joseph J. Peters, M.D.

The Inaugural Edition of the Germantown Crier, 1949

The first edition – Volume 1, Number 1 of the ‘Germantowne Crier’ published in January of 1949.
The original cost was 25 cents! It is full of great advertisements from the Germantown area and features a number of articles about the Harkness House (the current home of GHS!), Market Square and the Great Road.

  • Morris House by John W. Jackson
  • Harkness House by Edward W. Hocker
  • Memories of Old Germantown, Particularly of Market Square by Elliston P. Morris
  • The Great Road to Germantown by Frances Anne Wister
  • Why a Community Council? by Bruce Jones
  • A Sketch of Germantown Historical Society by Katherine Richardson Wireman

Old Inns and Taverns of the Great Road June 1952

  • An interesting article on inns and taverns by Ernest Howard Yardley

Background and Circumstances of the Germantown Protest Against Slavery 1688, Summer 1988

  • Part 2 of the article featured in the Spring 1988 edition of the Crier by Martha Crary Halpern

Germantown 1688 Protest Against Slavery Anniversary Spring, 1988

Highlights from the Commemoration of the 300th Anniversary of the 1688 Germantown Protest Against Slavery

  • Facsimile and Text of the Protest Against Slavery, 1688
  • Background and Circumstances of the Germantown Protest Against Slavery, 1688 – Part 1 by Martha Crary Halpern
  • Three Exhibits Celebrate the 300th Anniversary of the Germantown Protest Against Slavery by Barbara C. Adams / Photos by Harry Kalish
  • Blacks in Germantown Before the Civil War, Part 1: Persons Named in Various Contemporary Records and Subsequent Reminiscences, etc.

Great Road Out of Philadelphia by Catharine MacFarlane May 1964

  • The history of Germantown Avenue (through 1964) by Catherine MacFarlane, developed from a lecture by the author given to the Germantown Historical Society.

Street Names in Germantown, Summer 1985

  • List of Street names from historical volumes circa 1885 and 1897

Germantown Old Time Neighborhoods, Villages and One-Man Towns: A Gazetteer, Summer 1985

  • “As the German village slowly grew into a town and then into a suburb and eventually submerged its identity, at least in part, in the City of Philadelphia,  a number of smaller communities came into being within its boundaries, flourished for a time, more or less, and ultimately disappeared. Some of these, especially with colorful names like Dogtown, Smearsburg and Beggarstown, still arouse curiosity. Others like McNabbtown, Little Britain and New Jersualem, survive in old-timers’ vivid reminiscences of fifty to seventy-five years ago.”

Germantown Crier – Winter 1974, Selection of Articles

Included here a collection of smaller articles from the Winter 1974 edition. Volume 26, Number 1

  • The Op Den Graeffs by Nancy Sellers
  • The Upper Burying Ground of Germantown by Doris F. Ritzinger
  • Earliest Kindergarten – from “The Scrap Book” compiled by N.K. Ployd of Germantown, in 1909.
  • Scraps of Local History – from “The Scrap Book” compiled by N.K. Ployd of Germantown, in 1909.

Germantown Crier Spring 2020

Since it was first published in 1949, the Germantown Crier has been distributed to members of the Germantown Historical Society. The publication of the spring 2020 issue has occurred under extraordinary circumstances, having been developed against the backdrops of the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. To facilitate the distribution of the spring 2020 Crier during these times, we have decided to distribute it electronically, free-of-charge and to our entire email list- a “first” for the Crier. The standard print version will be mailed to our members in the near future. If you don’t already receive the print version of the Crier and would like to do so, please join as a member of Historic Germantown! You will be mailed the Crier twice a year, and will receive many other benefits with your membership.

 

Special Series from the Fall 2006 Germantown CrierBetween the Wars: Life in Germantown Between World War I and World War II

“In the early 1990s the Germantown Historical Society conducted an oral history project under the direction of Louise Strawbridge, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. Older Germantown residents, many of them African Americans, were interviewed on tape about growing up in Germantown between the first and second World Wars. These tapes offer each person’s unique story and highlights shared experiences. Many of those interviewed, for example attended the Hill School, Roosevelt Junior High, Germantown High School, the Wissahickon Boys Club, and the [Black] YWCA. Those interviewed knew the value of their memories of Germantown and generously gave their time and effort to the project. We have selected five interviews, four of African Americans and one of two White sisters. Each interview has been edited and shortened. All the tapes are held at the Germantown Historical Society.
The transcriptions of these interviews have been carried out by various volunteers. The assistance of Jim Moore, librarian of the African American Genealogy Group, has been invaluable–transcribing tapes, doing additional research, including obtaining photographs, and checking each interview.”

Early Lighting in Germantown, September 1962

Written for the September 1962 Crier, this article, by Frank E. Glace, features the history of early lighting in Germantown.

When Harlem Renaissance Came to Germantown: Negro Achievement Week April 1928, Spring 2009

Jewish Foster Home and Orphans Asylum of Philadelphia, spring 2010

  • Dennis McGlinchey authors this article on the Jewish Foster Home and Orphans Asylum once located on 700 Church Lane in East Germantown. From the vol. 60 no 1 spring 2010 edition of the Crier.

Shoe Manufacturing in Germantown in 1850: The End of the “Gentle Craft” Winter, 1989/90

  • Article by former Archivist of the Germantown Historical Society and the former editor of the Germantown Crier, Lisabeth M. Holloway on the craft industry of shoemaking in Germantown.

Site & Relic Society of Germantown Vol 2 No1, circa 1916

  • Early “journal” of proceedings from events held for the Site & Relic Society of Germantown (and more), published circa 1916. The Site & Relic Society of Germantown was the precursor organization to the Germantown Historical Society.
  • ‘The Garden at Stenton’ by Mrs. William Redwood Wright
  • ‘The Reception at Cliveden’ by Jane Campbell
  • ‘A Newcomer in Germantown’ by Jane Campbell

Johnnie Schreiber Sees the Battle of Germantown, May 1962

  • A brief article by Dr. Catherine MacFarlane who discovered Johnnie Schreiber while doing research on the Battle of Germantown. Originally published in May 1962, Volume 14, No.2.
  • The author biography at the end mentions Dr. MacFarlane hoped to publish a book for children on Johnnie Schreiber. It looks like it probably never happened, but the life of Dr. MacFarlane is incredibly interesting in her own right. Read more about this incredible woman here.

“Our Sweethearts of the North”: Civil War Portrait Photographs at the Germantown Historical Society, Spring 2007

  • Interesting article highlighting the images and history of some Civil War era portraits in the collection of the Germantown Historical Society by Susan Powell Witt. Originally published in Spring 2007, Volume 57, Issue 1.

In Sickness and In Health: Some Highlights of Medical Practice in Germantown’s Past, circa 1987

  • An article highlighting medical practices in Germantown by Steven J. Peitzman, M.D. and Lisabeth M. Holloway. From the Vol. 39, No. 3 Summer 1987 edition.

Great & Historic Trees of Philadelphia County, March 1968

  • A compilation of historic trees from around Philadelphia County, featuring types, sizes and locations. By John T. McNeil, originally published in March 1968.