The Moravian Archives in Bethlehem holds the records of the Moravian Church in America, Northern Province. We also have a research library containing one of the largest collections of published materials on the Moravians in the world.
These records concern the history of Moravians in North America beginning in 1740. Our holdings include records of the administrative boards, many active and inactive congregations, educational institutions, and individuals. The Moravian Archives in Bethlehem also holds records for other Moravian Provinces: Labrador, Eastern West Indies, and Nicaragua. Records of the Southern Province are held in Winston-Salem, NC.
A selection from the Moravian Archives’ holdings is also available on the website of the Bethlehem Digital History Project. This website provides online access to digitized primary source materials, transcriptions, translations and contextual information relating to the early history of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1741–1844.
Overview Of Selected Resources
• Our online finding aid provides information on the content of an ever-growing number of record groups. Access to digitized holdings is also provided through the online finding aid.
• Our research library contains a large number of published materials on the Moravians and related topics. It also contains the Malin Collection and the Congregational Library (founded 1751).
• A database of Moravian Musical Iconography, containing more than 100 images of musical instruments and ensembles in various parts of the Moravian world
• The Bethlehem Diary includes a daily account of the important events in the center of Moravian activity in North America, beginning in 1742 and continuing until the 20th century. We also have similar diaries from most other Moravian communities, such as Nazareth, Lititz, Emmaus, as well as from the town congregations.
• The handwritten “Gemeinnachrichten” or “Congregational Accounts” (ms. 1747-1818, printed 1819-1891) contain memoirs, sermons, and extracts from diaries of Moravian congregations in other parts of the world. The precursor of the Congregational Accounts are the Prayer Day Reports (“Gemeintagsberichte“), 1736-1746.
• Records of the administrative boards of the Moravian Church, overseeing Moravian work in North America. Until 1764 the elders of the Bethlehem Congregation were also responsible for Moravian work outside of Bethlehem and the records of the Bethlehem Congregation contain much information about individual congregations and missions. In 1764 a separate administrative board was created to oversee Moravian work in North America, usually called the Provincial Helpers’ Conference. With the independence of the Northern Province in 1857 the name changed to Provincial Elders’ Conference. The records of these boards contain much information about individual congregations.
• Records of over 100 Moravian congregations in the Northern Province of the Moravian Church.
• The Unity Archives in Herrnhut, Germany, holds a large amount of records relating to the Moravians in America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of this material is available on microfilm at the Bethlehem Archives. Thanks to a grant of the US Consulate in Leipzig and additional memorial gifts made in memory of archivist Vernon H. Nelson, we currently have 13 microfilms (R.14.A.1 – R.14.A.35).
• Various finding aids of Moravian collections held in other places (such as the Unity Archives in Herrnhut, Germany) are available at the Bethlehem Moravian Archives.
• The paintings of John Valentine Haidt, a Moravian artist who was active in America from 1754 till his death in 1780, comprise the largest portion of our fine art collection. Another artist of interest and merit is Christian Schuessele whose large-scale work, “The Power of the Gospel” is on permanent display in our gallery. Our collection also includes many works (paintings, drawings, and sketches) by nineteenth-century Moravian artist, Gustav Grunewald.
• Records of the Moravian Missions to the American Indians. The diaries and letters from the Moravian missionaries who worked among the American Indians (1740 to 1898) are a valuable resource. In addition to a finding aid these records are particularly well indexed in the so-called Fliegel Index (see below). Digital access to these records is provided through Gale Cengage Learning. The records are also available on microfilm (produced in 1970). A number of universities and other places have acquired the microfilms of the Moravian Indian mission and the accompanying Fliegel Index. According to our information, which is probably incomplete, various institutions have copies.
Libraries with Microfilms of the Indian Records
- American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA
- Bloomsburg State College, Bloomsburg, PA
- Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington, DC
- Center for Research Libraries, Chicago IL
- Florida State University
- Graduate Theological Seminary, Berkeley, CA
- Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
- Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN
- Kutztown State College, Kutztown, PA
- Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, PA
- New York Public Library, NY
- The New York State Library, Albany, NY
- Newspaper Archive (Germany)
- Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, Harrisburg, PA
- The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
- Universitätsbibliothek, Tübingen, Germany
- University of Akron
- University of California
- University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
- University of Chicago
- University of Maryland
- University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
- University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.
- Walter J. Johnson, Inc., NY
- Yale University, New Haven, CT
- Youngstown State University, OH
• The Fliegel Index lists many Indian names and the names of missionaries and others involved with the mission. Rev. Carl John Fliegel (1886-1961), research assistant at the Moravian Archives from 1952 until his death, indexed many (but not all!) of the diaries in the collection of Records of the Moravian Mission to the American Indians. The Fliegel Index is available online from Gale Inc. Click here and scroll down to “Records of the Moravian Mission Among the Indians of North America.”
How Complete is the Fliegel Index?
• We also hold records for other Moravian provinces, such as Nicaragua, the Eastern West Indies, and Labrador.
•Our collection of Drawings & Prints, containing approximately 5,000 maps, views, architectural drawings, and prints has been digitized and is accessible through our online finding aid.
• Detailed accounts from Bethlehem’s communal economy (1742-1762) through the opening of the community to non-Moravian residents in 1844 comprise the largest component of the financial records.
• Various diaries, travel journals, letters, minutes, biographies and deeds comprise much of our extensive manuscript collection.
• The minutes of the Unity Elders’ Conference (UEC, Unitätsältestenkonferenz) (1764-1899) are available on microfilm. The UEC was the general administrative board for the world-wide Unity and resided in Berthelsdorf near Herrnhut for most of the time of its existence.
• Memoir collection: at a Moravian funeral service a Lebenslauf or memoir was read as a testimony of the life and faith of the deceased. Many of these memoirs are autobiographical. In addition to the memoirs from the congregations in Northern Province, the memoir collection contains memoirs from the congregations in Wachovia (North Carolina) and congregations in Europe (in the Gemeinnachrichten). The memoir database (incl. obituaries) contains almost 40,000 entries.
• Early records of the Moravian Theological Seminary and the Boarding School for Girls/Female Seminary in Bethlehem, Nazareth Hall Boys’ School and other Moravian schools.
• Early photographs and negatives of a variety of persons and places are also held by the Archives.
• Up until the mid 1760s Moravian missionaries in the West Indies, Jamaica, and Suriname reported to Bethlehem. The Moravian Archives holds detailed records regarding these missions, in addition to many reports regarding Moravian missions in other parts of the world.
• Records from the Eastern West Indies Province, the Labrador Province, and the Nicaragua Province have been deposited at the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem.
• Although the records of the Southern Province are held at the Moravian Archives in Winston-Salem, NC, Bethlehem had oversight over Moravian work in North Carolina during the first decades (Wachovia Papers).
• The music collection (including 18th- and 19th-century music from the Bethlehem, Nazareth and Lititz congregations as well as from the Bethlehem Philharmonic Society) is housed at the Archives but maintained by the Moravian Music Foundation. Please contact Gwyneth Michel, asst. director of the Moravian Music Foundation, for questions about the collection, research appointments, etc. (610-866-3340).
• Lissa Folios (Lissaer Folianten, Acta Unitatis Fratrum), a series of fourteen volumes, containing records from the Unity of Brethren (Unitas Fratrum) 1460-1589 in Czech and Latin. Vol. 1-13 are the property of the Unity Archives in Herrnhut, vol. 14 is property of the Czech State Archives in Prague. Vol. 1-13 have been on loan to the Czech State Archives since 1945. The Moravian Archives has microfilm copies of all fourteen volumes. Also see: J.Th. Müller, “Geschichte und Inhalt der Acta Unitatis Fratrum,” Zeitschrift für Brüdergeschichte (1913).
• Local newspapers, such as the Bethlehem Times, the Globe, and the Globe-Times, are available on microfilm.
• An interesting collection of papers regarding Moravian leader Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf is held among the many other collections of personal papers.
• The papers of John Ettwein, the Revolutionary War era President of the Governing Board of the Moravian Church in America, make up the largest portion of our Revolutionary War records.