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"Bethany Mission for Colored People" records

Identifier: HC.MC-1133

Scope and Contents

Records of the Mission consist of three deeds to a property on Brandywine Street in Philadelphia; a constitution, dated 1869 and signed by President Marcellus Balderston; a minute book, 1862-1866; final minutes concerning the sale of the Brandywine Street property, 1936; a 1908-1910 account book with penciled comments as to amount of donation, visitors, weather, who offered prayer, who addressed the school, and general remarks; two printed items: the 13th annual report of the "Bethany Mission for Colored People", Brandywine St., Philadelphia, 1871, and the Miller College Bulletin, ca. early 20th century, featuring a picture of Marcellus Balderston; three small photographs of the Church on 1527 Brandywine Street, early 20th century and one large photograph of the Mission building by Frederick Gutekunst, 1869.


  • 1862-1936


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Historical note

The "Bethany Mission for Colored People" was founded in the mid-1850s and, beginning in 1869, was located at Brandywine Street near 16th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. According to its constitution, the Mission was to be non-denominational with the objective of "moral and religious education and general elevation of the Colored people by means of a Mission Sabbath School." The Sunday School welcomed students of all ages, from young children to the elderly. Attendance at the Mission peaked in the 1870s with enrollment close to 500 pupils. The Mission began a slow decline starting in the 1880s which continued until its close in the 1930s, due to the rise of Black churches and increased public education for African-Americans.

Marcellus Balderston (1842-1935) first became involved in the Mission in 1857. Balderston became superintendent of the mission in 1860, at 18 years old, a position he held until his death in 1935. Balderston's family was heavily involved in the mission. John, Rachel, and Lydia, his siblings, as well as Cecilia Wright, his wife, and Martha B. Livezey, his niece, were all teachers at the Mission. The Mission focused on service before creed and welcomed Hicksite, Gurneyite, and Wilburite Quakers as well as non-Friends. Balderston was listed as an original member of the Friends' Historical Association (FHA) and helped plan the merger of the FHA with the younger Friends' Historical Society of Philadelphia.

Photographer Frederick Gutekunst (1831-1917) was born in the Germantown area of Philadelphia and had a photography studio on Arch Street. Gutekunst was known as the "Civil War Photographer" and was renowned for his work as a portrait photographer in the form of carte-de-visite and cabinet cards. Gutekunst also produced several architectural photographs, such as that of the Bethany mission.


.2 Linear Feet (1 box)




Records of the Philadelphia-based "Bethany Mission for Colored People", 1862-1936, a non-sectarian institution established to provide literacy and "moral and religious education" for African Americans.


Arranged by type of material.


The "Bethany Mission for Colored People" records were donated to Special Collections, Haverford College in 1972 by Lucy Shoe Merritt and in 2003 by Martha Paxson Grundy.

Related Materials

  • Emlen Institution for the Benefit of Children of African and Indian Descent records (HC.MC.999)
  • Emily Howland papers (HC.MC-1164)

Separated Materials

Deed for lot between 15th & 16th Street in Philadelphia purchased by Marcellus Balderston from Christ's Evangelical Reformed Church in 1865 flattened and removed to 990 B-R (deeds)


  • Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography. New York: Lewis Publishing Co., 1917, vol. 8.
  • Grundy, Martha Paxson. "The Bethany Mission for Colored People: Philadelphia Friends and a Sunday School Mission." Quaker history 90.1 (2001): 50-82.
  • Myers, Albert Cook. "Some Brief Historical Notes on Friends' Historical Association." Bulletin of Friends' Historical Association 13.1 (1924): 3-10.

Processing Information

Processed by Diana Franzusoff Peterson and Christopher Michael; completed April, 2013. Revised by Seabrook Jeffcoat; completed February, 2020.

"Bethany Mission for Colored People" records, 1862-1936
Diana Franzusoff Peterson and Christopher Michael
April, 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • February, 2020: Revised and box listed added by Seabrook Jeffcoat

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

370 Lancaster Ave
Haverford PA 19041 USA US