The Chester County Historical Society receives grant from the Chester County Bar Foundation for Passmore Williamson

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Primary Contact: 
David B. Reinfeld
Primary Phone: 
Primary Email:
Release Date: 
Tuesday, October 28, 2014

(West Chester, PA)  The Chester County Historical Society (CCHS) is thrilled to receive a generous grant of $5,000 from the Chester County Bar Foundation for the restoration of Passmore Williamson’s 1855 prison visitors’ book. The book was the People’s Choice Award winner in the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts in Pennsylvania campaign, which was held in fall 2013. The book received a total of 1,968,595 votes, 191 shares and 40 individual donations in support of its conservation. Although the campaign was a true local community effort, support came from a broad audience with donations and voting coming from as far away as Singapore. 

The prison visitors’ book is one of the most unusual and important items in the collections of Chester County Historical Society. It documents a pivotal time in Passmore Williamson’s life and in our nation’s history, as it resulted from a significant and widely-publicized court case.

Rob Lukens, president of the Historical Society, stated "CCHS is very grateful for this significant grant from the Chester County Bar Foundation. It speaks volumes about the Foundation's mission that they are willing to support the preservation of this national treasure, which will inspire innumerable visitors and researchers for decades to come." 

Don Kohler, Esq., president, stated “The Chester County Bar Foundation is proud to support the Historical Society on such an important part of Chester County history.  Preserving this book will insure that future generations are aware of how important Chester County was to the Abolitionist Movement.” 

Funds from the Chester County Bar Foundation will be used towards the conservation of this rare visitors’ book. Having the book conserved is necessary before CCHS can implement the online and educational components of the project.  Because the book’s binding must be restored and each page needs to be cleaned and treated, the conservation work will cost approximately $25,500, of which more than half has been raised from individual supporters and grants. This estimate is based on a condition report and treatment proposal prepared by the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in August 2013. 

Please help us preserve his book and tell his story. Every donation matters, but please consider making a donation towards the conservation fund.  Become one of Passmore Williamson’s 21st-century supporters today. Please contact David B. Reinfeld at 610-692-4800 x 267,, or make a donation online at 

About the Chester County Historical Society and the Chester County Bar Foundation 

The Chester County Historical Society (CCHS) inspires, informs, and builds community identity by preserving and sharing the remarkable story of Chester County and its people.

CCHS fulfills this mission through:

  • Acting as steward of an unparalleled collection of artifacts, manuscripts, photographs and volumes that documents over 300 years of County heritage;
  • Offering innovative educational programs and exhibitions that draw on the collections to bring history to life, and
  • Helping audiences explore their own histories through Historical Society resources and staff expertise.

Founded in 1893, the Chester County Historical Society (CCHS) is the official county history museum, history education center, and historical repository of Chester County, Pennsylvania. As such, the Society aims to preserve and share the county's remarkable history in powerful and relevant ways. For more information, call 610-692-4800 or visit

Chester County Bar Foundation

In 1985, a group of highly committed Chester County attorneys recognized a growing gap between the legal system and the citizens it serves. In an effort to re-connect the community with our laws, those lawyers came together to form the Chester County Bar Foundation. The Foundation's goal, then and now, is to fund initiatives which strengthen the ties between the residents of Chester County and the justice system.  In the new millennium, the Foundation's Board of Directors adopted a new mission, which highlights the role of the Foundation in reaching out to the public in many expanded ways. That mission — to help Chester County citizens understand, gain access to and benefit from our legal system — simply clarifies what has always been the role of the Bar Foundation. 

With its focused mission, the Foundation took a giant leap forward in its efforts to raise funds through the Foundation Golf Classic and Casino Night. With the advent of these fundraising events, the Foundation doubled its endowment and increased funding for programs. Programs supported by the Foundation include: Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Law Related Education for Youth program, Elder Law Education programs, Charles E. Swope Scholarship and Matching Grant program, Domestic Violence Center of Chester County, Community Impact Legal Services, and the Crime Victims' Center of Chester County. Over its history, the Foundation has become a force within the community by helping people of all ages and backgrounds understand the legal process and their rights as citizens of Chester County. For more information, please visit: