Diocese Archives, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh was created in 1865 from the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. At that time, 25 counties of western Pennsylvania, from Maryland in the south to New York in the north, comprised the new diocese. In 1910, this area was divided roughly in half, leaving the Diocese of Pittsburgh with 11 counties in the southwestern part of the state: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland. Although the first Episcopal churches in western Pennsylvania existed in the 1760's, it was in 1787 that John Penn, a nephew of William Penn, deeded land in downtown Pittsburgh to the Episcopal denomination, as well as the Presbyterians and German Evangelicals. The deeded land on Sixth Avenue, which was shared with the Presbyterians, previously had been an Indian burial ground and was used for burials by both denominations before structures were built. However, the first Trinity Episcopal Church was built in 1805 on the land now housing the Wood Street "T". It was not until 1829 that Trinity's rector, the Rev. John Henry Hopkins, designed and built the second building on the land provided by the Penns. When that structure became too small for the growing congregation, it was razed and the present church built in 1872.

A History Committee was formed in 1979 by Trinity Cathedral to centralize and preserve the documents and artifacts scattered around the church. When it became evident that there was also a great deal of material that was diocesan in nature, an appeal was made to the Bishop for financial support to create a repository and bring in a trained person to organize what had been found. By 1985 the small repository was finished and materials archivally organized and stored. Following an evaluation by an NHPRC recommended consultant, a Diocesan Historical Commission was appointed by the Bishop to preserve and make available the historical materials which documented the creation and growth of the Episcopal church in western Pennsylvania.

Although most of the 74 open churches in the diocese prefer to maintain physical control of their own historical records, the archives collection maintains materials from closed and open parishes. While the earliest document is a letter of transfer dated 1777 and there are a few items from the early 19th century, most items date from the mid 1800's on. The collection consists of correspondence, diaries, photographs, artifacts, sacramental registers, parish record books, scrapbooks, microfilm, audio and video cassettes, architects blueprints, financial papers, and vital records, among other items documenting the history of the Bishops and clergy, the diocese, its organizations and outreach programs. The bulk of the collection is open for genealogical and academic research. Contact Lynne Wohleber, Archivist at 412-281-6131 or wohleber@pgh.anglican.org for more information.

Christ Chruch
St. Bartholomew's
The Girls Friendly Society

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