Small Repositories Subject Guide: Recreation and Travel

The Philadelphia area's small archival repositories are rich in resources relating to the recreation clubs and world travel, including records of one of the oldest clubs in the country devoted to sport (Philadelphia Cricket Club) and the evangelical missionary and international explorer who was most likely the first individual to travel the entire Great Wall of China (William Edgar Geil).

The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR), a project of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is uncovering the hundreds of hidden archival collections held by the many small historical repositories in the five county Philadelphia area. Some of the collections cataloged in the HCI-PSAR project are summarized in this subject guide, which is designed to facilitate and encourage research at small repositories. The guide is not comprehensive but will serve to highlight underutilized collections and reveal the depth and breadth of resources available at small repositories.

Finding aids to all small repository archival collections surveyed in the HCI-PSAR project are available at our finding aid website, hosted by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries. Finding aids are being added on an ongoing basis, so check back frequently.

Sports and recreation

Sports and recreation

Philadelphia Canoe Club Collection, 1904-2008 (CHHS.CANOE)
Chestnut Hill Historical Society
19.5 linear feet
Chartered in 1905, Philadelphia Canoe Club is the third oldest paddling club in the United States. It is headquartered in an 18th century mill at the confluence of the Wissahickon Creek and Schuylkill River in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Canoe Club Collection, 1904-2008, contains administrative records, activity logs, newsletters, financial records, and photographs.

Philadelphia Cricket Club Collection, 1858-2011 [bulk 1935-2011] (CHHS.CRICK)
Chestnut Hill Historical Society
22.5 linear feet
Founded in 1854, the Philadelphia Cricket Club is one of the oldest clubs in the country devoted to sport. The club was nomadic until 1883, when benefactor Henry H. Houston gave them a permanent home in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Cricket Club Collection, 1858-2011, includes financial and administrative records of the club, as well as publications and ephemera, photographs, and newspaper clippings.


William Edgar Geil papers, 1886-2013 [bulk 1900-1910], 46 linear feet (DOY.03)
Doylestown Historical Society
46 linear feet
Often referred to as "America's Forgotten Explorer," William Edgar Geil (1865-1925) was an evangelical missionary and international explorer from Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania who was most likely the first individual to travel the entire Great Wall of China (in 1908). He was a sought-after lecturer and orator; authored 10 books, including his best-selling travelogue The Great Wall of China(Sturgis & Walton Company, 1909); and was an accomplished photographer whose work documented vanishing cultures. The William Edgar Geil papers, 1886-2013 (bulk 1900-1910), include nearly 2,000 photographs; book preparation materials covering all phases of the editorial process; diaries and field notes; personal correspondence; newspaper clippings; and artwork. The collection documents William E. Geil's extensive travels, his work as an evangelist and missionary, and his family.