Did you know there was once an ice manufacturing company in Collegeville? Or that the area was considered a thriving summer resort for wealthy Philadelphians and others? Can you imagine walking from Ursinus College to the local driving park to catch a horse racing event? Or admiring the annual fruit and vegetable exhibition at Glen Farm?
In cooperation with Historic Trappe, Ursinus College’s Library & Information Technology Department has been working to digitize and make available Collegeville’s first newspaper, The Providence Independent, which ran from 1875 to 1898. In 1898, the paper changed its name to The Independent before merging with another newspaper in 1952 to become the Independent and Montgomery Transcript, which ceased publication in the early 2000s. Nearly one thousand issues are available to search, browse and download, beginning with June 8th, 1876 and ending on June 2nd, 1898 (Note: volumes 1, 4, 6 and 7 are not available as they are missing from Historic Trappe’s physical holdings).
Each four-page issue contains local, regional and national news stories as well as fiction, poetry, and advertisements. One page in each issue is dedicated to agricultural advice and practices. Like modern news, coverage ranges across a wide variety of topics including: politics, crime, business, religion, recreation, transportation, weather and natural disasters, obituaries and notices of marriages and property transactions. Items of major historical significance such as the temperance movement and woman suffrage are found in its pages as are local reactions to events such as the Johnstown Flood and the Chicago World’s Fair. In addition to Trappe and Collegeville, reporting is included from Philadelphia, Norristown, Oaks, Valley Forge, Skippack, Phoenixville, Spring City and more.
Of course, there is plenty of news from Ursinus College - especially Commencement exercises, lectures, contests, social gatherings and sermons, as well as athletics and literary society activities. News from the presidencies of John Henry Augustus Bomberger, Henry William Super, George W. Williard, and Henry Thomas Spangler are included in these volumes. You will also find details of the lives of Ursinus College graduates such as Miss Minerva Weinberger! And information about the local community including: The Roberts Machine Company, the Collegeville Roller Flour Mills, Collegeville Fire Company, Perkiomen Bridge Hotel, Glenwood, Prospect Terrace and Trinity Reformed Church to name just a few.
We hope that this new resource will prove useful not only to our current students and faculty in the classroom but also to members of the local community and beyond.