Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Pennsylvania Geography Exercise Book, [ca. 1831-1835]

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, August 2011

Summary Information
Title: Pennsylvania Geography exercise book
Creator: Anonymous
Inclusive dates: [ca. 1831-1835]
Extent: 1 volume
Written between 1831 and 1835, the Pennsylvania geography exercise book contains a series of school exercises about Pennsylvania, organized by county. Essays cover a diverse array of topics including the geography, architecture, and history of specific areas.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2009. M-4731.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Pennsylvania Geography Exercise Book, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


John Smith made the first documented voyage by Europeans to what is now the states of Pennsylvania and Delaware in 1608, followed shortly thereafter by Henry Hudson (1609) and Samuel Argall (1610). Between 1637 and 1638, Swedish immigrants began the first permanent European settlements in the area, though the territory often oscillated between Dutch and English control. In 1681, King Charles II of Great Britain granted William Penn a charter to land in the area; Penn established a colony, now named Pennsylvania, with a high tolerance of religious freedom, a large Quaker presence, and a certain degree of autonomy from English governance. During this period, the colony's largest migratory populations originated from Germany and the British Isles, with significant numbers of Scotch-Irish. Pennsylvania outlawed slavery in 1780. Philadelphia was the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the capital of the United States throughout the American Revolution. During the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, Pennsylvania's main industries centered on iron and steel, with a significant printing industry based around Philadelphia. Notably, the Erie Canal, finished in 1825, allowed transport from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

Collection Scope and Content Note

Written between 1831 and 1835, this volume contains a series of school exercises about the state of Pennsylvania, organized by county. Essays cover a diverse array of topics including the geography, architecture, and history of specific areas. Though the volume focuses on Pennsylvania at the county level, the cities of Germantown and Philadelphia are discussed at length. While writing about Germantown, the writer considers not only its history, but also the composition of its population, the religion of these settlers, relations with local Native Americans, natural geography, and its role in the American Revolution. The author treats Philadelphia in even more depth, devoting entire exercises to specific bridges and buildings (including the city's prisons, hospital, local British army barracks, poor houses, and the homes of notable residents such as William Penn and Robert Morris), "The Treaty Tree," foreign settlers, "The 'caves' of the first inhabitants," "Superstition and popular Credulity of the Early Inhabitants" (with a focus on the city's first Dutch and Swedish settlers), and its "Aborigines." Of particular interest is a lengthy discussion of William Penn and his history within the state. Together, the sections on Germantown and Philadelphia comprise roughly one-fourth of the volume.

The remainder of the book is devoted to exercises exploring Pennsylvania's various counties, as divided in the early 1830s (see below for a list of counties covered in the volume). The section on each county contains an initial introduction accompanied by a manuscript map (except in the case of Centre County) and at least one essay. These exercises are generally much shorter than those devoted to Philadelphia, and they focus primarily on geographic features such as rivers, hills or mountains, and soil. Other recurrent topics include roads or other improvements and (occasionally) larger towns or cities. Lancaster and Pittsburgh are among the settlements described in greater detail, though neither description matches the attention given to Germantown or Philadelphia. The exercise book provides a thorough, contemporary view of Pennsylvania in the early 19th century, from the established settlements on its Atlantic coast to the forests of its interior and its western boundaries.

Subject Terms

    • Germantown (Philadelphia, Pa.)
    • Indians of North America--Pennsylvania.
    • Pennsylvania--Description and travel.
    • Pennsylvania--History.
    • Pennsylvania--Maps.
    • Philadelphia (Pa.)--History.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Pennsylvania--Manuscript maps.
    Genre Terms:
    • Essays.
    • Exercises.
    • Manuscript maps.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Pennsylvania Geography exercise book,  [ca. 1831-1835] [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data


    • Topography of Germantown
    • Philadelphia County
      • City of Philadelphia
    • Topography of Pennsylvania
      • Delaware County
      • Chester County
      • Montgomery County
      • Bucks County
      • Lancaster County
      • Berks County
      • Lehigh County
      • Northampton County
      • Pike County
      • Wayne County
      • Susquehanna County
      • Luzerne County
      • Schuylkill County
      • Lebanon County
      • Dauphin County
      • York County
      • Northumberland County
      • Columbia County
      • Bradford County
      • Lycoming County
      • Union County
      • Juniata County
      • Perry County
      • Cumberland County
      • Adams County
      • Franklin County
      • Bedford County
      • Huntington County
      • Mifflin County
      • Tioga County
      • Potter County [not yet organized]
      • Centre County [no map]
      • McKean County
      • Clearfield County
      • Cambria County
      • Somerset County
      • Fayette County
      • Westmoreland County
      • Indiana County
      • Jefferson County
      • Warren County
      • Venango County
      • Armstrong County
      • Butler County
      • Greene County
      • Washington County
      • Allegheny County
      • Beaver County
      • Mercer County
      • Crawford County
      • Erie County

    Pennsylvania. General Assembly. "Pennsylvania History."