Built in 1768, Johnson House Historic Site is a National Historic Landmark designated as an Underground Railroad station. The Johnsons were an abolitionist family who worked with other abolitionists to end slavery.

The Archives of Johnson House Historic Site (JHHS) is comprised of the non-current business records of Johnson House created since its inception as a historic site in the late 1980s.

The Special Collections consists of documents, images, audio/visual media, and other materials related to the early Johnson family; the Underground Railroad, slavery, and abolition generally; and the Woman’s Club of Germantown, whose members purchased the house in the early 20th century and occupied it until early 1980, when they sold the house to the Germantown Mennonite Church Corporation [now the Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust]; and records created by the Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust regarding the house (during their stewardship of the house in the 1980s and early 1990s).




Archival records of Johnson House Historic Site have been gathered and re-housed in acid-free cartons, and are awaiting final organization and description.  Final processing began in the fall of 2023, and their description should be available on our database in 2024.

 Special Collections

In 2020 Johnson House Historic Site received a Historical & Archival Records Care (HARC) grant from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission for Phase I of an overall plan to create, organize, preserve, and make available for research use, the Johnson House Historic Site Archives & Special Collections. Phase I organized and preserved the material in the Special Collections, and created a database of the Collections holdings.

The Collections to date are as follows: SC-1, Johnson Family; SC-2, Woman’s Club of Germantown; SC-3, Underground Railroad and Slavery/Abolition-Related Materials; SC-4, Images on Paper; and SC-5, Audio-Visual Media. 

A sixth collection was added in 2023, but is not yet fully processed and therefore not available for research use at this time: SC-6, Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust, Johnson House Files [available in 2024].

Materials in the Special Collections (with the exception of SC-6) are available for research use at this time, and can be accessed through our public database. See below for how to search the database.


How to Search the SPECIAL COLLECTIONS Database

To access the ArchivesSpace database, click here, and  follow the suggestions below.

 Enter your search terms

Enter your search term into this field.  

Search field

Use ‘keyword’ for the most precise results.

Click blue Search button for results.

Pay attention to spelling and formatting of search term you enter, for example:

When you enter ‘cook book’ into the search term field, no records are found.

However, when you revise the search to ‘cookbook’, records are found:

If you want to view all the Collections in the database

Select Collections (see the second tab in the grey bar across the top of the ArchivesSpace screen). This will direct you to an overview of our collections. Select an individual collection to learn more.

To download a finding aid, select any collection. Hit the ‘print’ button (in the top right hand corner). This feature will download a PDF. Open your downloads and select the appropriate title. A PDF version of the collection’s finding aid will appear in a new screen.


Research Appointments

We welcome all researchers. Our physical collections are available by appointment, only. Please contact us for more information or to make an appointment.

Contact Us

[email protected]

[email protected]