Joseph Priestley House

Northumberland, Pennsylvania

Research

Researchers are welcome to use the collections available for study at Joseph Priestley House. All research visits are by appointment. Call 570-473-9474 or send your request via email to info@josephpriestleyhouse.org

Most of the research materials listed below, with the exception of the Bower and Schofield collections, have been taken to the PA Historical and Museum Commission for safekeeping. Contact Brenda Reigle [breigle@state.pa.us] for access to these materials.

Research materials available:

Books by Joseph Priestley
Introduction to the Theory & Practice of Perspective, 1770 PH93.1.6
Experiments & Observations on Different Kind of Airs Vol. 1-3 PH93.1.8A-C
Experiments & Observations on Different Kind of Airs Vol. 2 PH93.1.9
History of Corruptions of Christianity Vol. 2,1782 PH93.1.12
History – Vision, Light, Colors Vol. 1-2, 1772 PH93.1.13A-B
History of Electricity Vol. 1-3, 1771 PH93.1.29A-C
Experiences & Observations of Air Vol. 1-2, 1777 PH93.1.30A-B
Lectures on History and General Policy Vol. 1-2, 1803 PH93.1.49
The History of Electricity, 1794 PH93.1.50
A Comparison of the Institution of Moses, 1799 PH93.1.51
Discourses on Various Subjects, 1805 PH93.1.52
The Doctrines of Heathen Philosophy, 1804 PH93.1.53
Lectures on History & General Policy Vol. 2, 1793 PH93.1.56
Lectures on History & General Policy Vol. 1-2, 1803 PH93.1.58A-B
An History of the Corruptions of Christianity Vol. 1,1782 PH93.1.68
Observations on the Increase of Infidelity, 1797 PH93.1.69
Experiments & Observations on Different Kind of Airs Vol. 1 PH93.1.70A
Experiments & Observations on Different Kind of Airs Vol. 3 PH93.1.70B
Lectures on History and General Policy Vol. 1 PH93.1.77
Experiments & Observations Var. Branches Nat. Philosophy PH96.1.9
History – Vision, Light, Colors, 1772 (complete) PH96.1.79
Comparison of the Institution of Moses, 1799 PH96.1.80
Lectures on History & General Policy, 1803 PH96.1.81
Lectures on History & General Policy, 1803 PH96.1.82
Essay on a Course of Liberal Education, 1765 PH96.1.84
History of Electricity PH96.1.94
Lectures on History & General Policy, 1788 PH96.1.99
Letters to the Inhabitants of Northumberland, 1796 PH96.1.101
Letters to Rt. Hon. Edmund Burke, 1791 PH96.1.102
Sermon from Gravel Pit Meeting, 1791 PH96.1.103
Letter to Rt. Hon. Edmund Burke, 1791 PH96.1.104
Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity, 1777 PH96.1.105
Hartley’s Theory of the Human Mind, 1775 PH96.1.106
History & Present State of Electricity, 1794 PH96.1.107
Answer to Mr. Payne’s Age of Reason, 1795 PH96.1.109
Discourse on the Riots, 1791 PH96.1.110
Appeal – The Riots in Birmingham, 1792 PH96.1.111
Institutes of Natural & Revealed Religion Vol. 1-2, 1772 PH96.114A-B
Sermons (Price and Priestley) PH96.1.116
Lectures on History & General Policy Vol. 1-2 PH96.1.117A-B
Examination of Inquiries, Essays & Appeals, 1774 PH96.1.118
Free Discussion of Doctrines of Materialism, 1778 PH96.1.119
Letters to Edmund Burke, 1791 PH96.1.120
Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever Pt. 1, 1787 PH96.1.121
Discourses Evidences of Revealed Religion, 1796 PH96.1.122
Sermon to Congregations of Old & New Meeting, 1789 PH96.1.123
Appeal to the Professors of Christianity, 1794 PH96.1.124
Comparison of the Institution of Moses, 1799 PH96.1.126
Early Opinions Concerning Jesus, 1786 PH96.1.127A-D
Memoirs of J. Priestley, 1806 PH96.1.128
History of Vision, Light, Colors Vol. 1-2, 1772 PH96.1.129A-B
Copies of Original Letters to Dr. Priestley, 1798 PH96.1.131
Discourse on Death of Dr. Price, 1791 PH96.1.137
Letters Concerning the Person of Christ, 1790 PH96.1.144
Letters to a Young Man, 1792 PH96.1.146
Essay on the First Principles of Government, 1768 PH96.1.148
Original Letters Rev. John Wesley, 1791 PH96.1.151
Lectures on History & General Policy, 1788 PH96.1.152
Corruptions of Christianity Vol. 1-2, 1782 PH96.1.153A-B
Letters to Dr. Horsley, 1783 PH96.1.154
Disquisitions Relating to Matter and Spirit, 1777 PH96.1.155
Lectures on History & General Policy, 1791 PH96.1.157
Lectures on Oratory & Criticism, 1777 PH96.1.158
Letters to Inhabitants of Northumberland, 1801 PH96.7.1
History of Corruptions of Christianity, 1838 PH96.12.1
Discourses on Revealed Religion Vol. 2, 1797 PH2001.1.2
Theological & Miscellaneous Works of Priestley, edited with notes by John Towill Rutt
Volumes 1-2 PH93.1.11A-B
Volume 3 PH93.1.11C
Volumes 2, 4 through 20, 24 PH93.1.57A-S
Volume 25 PH93.1.66
Volume 1 PH96.1.78
Volumes 21 through 25 PH96.1.83A-E
Volume 20 PH96.1.90
Archival Research Collections
James Boeringer Research Collection at Joseph Priestley House Approximately one linear foot of research compiled in 1979-1980 by James Boeringer, professor at Susquehanna University from 1964 through 1980.Collection includes photocopied brief extracts of a selection of Priestley works, works of Priestley contemporaries, and Priestley biographers from 1770’s through the 1970’s. Also included are Boeringer’s notebooks detailing library loan requests, titles of and notes about the works surveyed. During 1979, much of Boeringer’s research was conducted in England.
Jerome D. Bowers Research Collection at Joseph Priestley House Four linear feet of primary and secondary resources used to write and compile a history of Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in the United States.Files consist of copies of original letters from the Andover-Harvard Theological Library, the University of Virginia Archives, Pennsylvania State University Archives, and various other sites including the American Philosophical Society. Secondary papers include copies of book chapters, articles, internet resources, and etc.

The focus on the works all center around Joseph Priestley, early American Unitarianism, and James Kay. There are sermons, personal letters, account books, diaries, newspaper articles, speeches, magazine articles, literary accounts and more.

Robert Crist Research Collection at Joseph Priestley House One linear foot of research papers compiled by Robert Crist for the PHMC during the 1980’s. Materials relate to the life and work of Joseph Priestley, especially concentrating on publications; and the involvement of the American Chemical Society, Penn State University and other organizations with Joseph Priestley House during the first half of the 20th century.Collection includes photocopies of letters written by Joseph Priestley (original manuscripts in various repositories); photocopies of An Account of the Late Riots in Birmingham, 1791, Priestley’s customs receipt and will, and A Catalogue of Books Written by Dr. Joseph Priestley, composed in 1806 by Joseph Priestley JR; photocopies of Penn State University correspondence regarding their management of the Priestley House from the 1920’s through the 1950’s; and Crist’s notes, reports and correspondence regarding his research.

Additional materials are bibliographies of Priestley’s written works, photocopied chapters of books and journal articles dealing with relevant architectural history and the history of chemistry and laboratories, Priestley biography (including the work of John Towill Rutt and others in the 19th century as well as 20th century biographies); and news articles, pamphlets and other ephemera related to the history of and commemorations at Priestley House.

Research collections consulted for this compilation include the Yale Rare Books Collection, Dickinson College, and Penn State University’s Chemistry Department and Pattee Library Rare Books Room.

Lester Kieft Research Collection at Joseph Priestley House One half of one linear foot of research papers and ephemera compiled by Dr. Lester Kieft, professor of chemistry at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, from 1942-1981, relating to the commemoration of Joseph Priestley via a first-class U.S. Postal Service Stamp in 1983, and the involvement of the American Chemical Society in commemorating Joseph Priestley House.Collection includes photocopies of excerpts of Joseph Priestley’s published writings and Diderot and d’Alembert’s illustration of a laboratory, and correspondence between Lester Kieft and William Bolger, Postmaster General of the United States. Also included are the PA senate and gubernatorial (Dick Thornburgh) recognitions of Priestley on the stamp’s first day of issue, and copies of speeches presented during the stamp commemorative ceremonies. Black and white photographs from 1976 depict laboratory apparatus.

Additional materials are photocopied chapters of books, journal and magazine articles, spanning a time period between 1874 and 1983, related to Priestley biography, the history of chemistry in America, the history and activity of the American Chemical Society, and the April 1983 commemoration of the Priestley first class stamp.

Some significant ephemera collected in this archive includes: Booklet: An Exhibit Celebrating the 250th Birthday of Joseph Priestley (exhibit guide for University of PA’s Van Pelt Library exhibit March 11 to May 27, 1983)

Programs:

Publication of “Joseph Priestley: Scientist, Theologian, Metaphysician”

, 1980; and program from The Joseph Priestley Celebration, Wednesday, April 13, 1983Commemorative stamp cachets and envelopes: August 1, 1974 (Second Centennial of Chemistry) and October 12, 1976 (ACS- Restoration of Joseph Priestley’s Laboratory).

Michael Ripton Research Collection at Joseph Priestley House Approximately one linear foot of research papers compiled by Michael Ripton used to develop an interpretative guidebook for the Joseph Priestley House during the early 1980’s. Mr. Ripton served PHMC in various capacities including Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. Materials relate to Joseph Priestley’s life and work and the history of the development of the use of Joseph Priestley House during the first half of the 20th century.Collection includes photocopies of: letters written by Joseph Priestley (original manuscripts in Dr. William’s Library, London); portraits and engravings of Joseph Priestley in various English locations; documentation regarding Priestley’s home and laboratory expenses in Calne; documentation from Warwick County (England) record office regarding the 1791 Priestley Riots and their legal resolution; Penn State University correspondence regarding their management of the Priestley House from the 1920’s through the 1950’s; and the act of State giving Priestley House to the Commonwealth of PA in 1959. Photographs of artifacts and exhibits in Priestley House and the exterior of the house during the early 1980’s are also included.

Additional materials include book chapters and research papers regarding English architecture, and historic landscape architecture in Pennsylvania; photocopies of press releases regarding the Priestley House dating between 1968-1986; annotated copies of the 1981 Historic Structures report on Priestley House written by Tomas Spiers; reports and notes taken during a July 1983 trip to England by a PHMC research team at locations with significance to interpreting Joseph Priestley, such as the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Science Museum of London, King’s Heath Library, Bowood House in Calne, and the Wedgwood Museum; and multiple drafts of the document, An Interpretive Guidebook to Joseph Priestley and his American House & Laboratory, by John B.B. Trussell, Jr., edited by Marianne Bez in 1985.

Robert E. Schofield Research Collection (PH2006.4) at Joseph Priestley House Seven cubic feet of documents including manuscript research notes, photographs published in Schofield’s books about Joseph Priestley, and photocopies of rare primary documents including letters written by Priestley circa 1760-1804.Four cubic feet of additional materials include primary documents (period books & pamphlets written by Priestley), photocopies of other rare books & pamphlets by Priestley, secondary resource materials by various authors including biographies, period histories, Kraus Reprint Company’s 25-volume Theological and Miscellaneous Works of Joseph Priestley by John Towill Rutt, journals, exhibit catalogues and other books about Priestley.

The collection was compiled by Dr. Schofield and served as the research basis for his two-volume biography of Joseph Priestley: The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1733 to 1773 (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997) and The Enlightened Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1773 to 1804 (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004)

NOTE: This is a restricted collection due to copyright issues.

Tomas Spiers Research Collection at Joseph Priestley House Approximately one half linear foot of research compiled by Tomas Spiers, architect, of Spiers and Associates, Camp Hill, PA, while working as a contractor for PHMC’s Bureau of Historic Sites and Properties to produce an historic structures report about the Joseph Priestley House in 1981.Collection includes photographs of the Priestley House interior and exterior spanning the late nineteenth century through the 1970’s, especially concentrating on the 1960’s, the application to place Priestley House on the National Register for Historic Landmarks in 1974, and an archaeological report done by William Hershey in 1978. Also included are photocopies of postcards of Priestley House, and press releases written in the late 1960’s about the restoration of the house and in the early 1980’s seeking information from the public about the history of the house and families who lived in it.

Additional materials are information about Penn State University’s administration of the house, including inventories from 1926 (the opening of the George Pond Memorial Building) and 1952 (when Penn State was preparing to turn the house over to the borough of Northumberland).

The Robert Crist Archival Collection is a related collection, as Crist provided some of the research for the production of the Historic Structures Report completed by Spiers in September 1981. Copies of the Historic Structures Report are in the Site Research Library and Files.