The collections of the Historical Society of Montgomery County include a wide variety of objects that add to the story of Montgomery County. Among the thousands of objects of objects in the collection you'll find some of the highlights below.
- The Hancock Bullet
After General Winfield Scott Hancock was shot at Gettysburg, numerous doctors tried and failed to remove the bullet from Hancock’s groin. Finally, it was another Montgomery County native, Dr. Louis Read, who put Hancock back on his saddle and extracted the bullet. Hancock is buried at Montgomery Cemetery.
- Joseph Detweiler Hagey’s Leg
After losing his leg in the Civil War, Hagey returned home to Hatfield where he worked as a bootmaker. His dissatisfaction with the government issued prosthetic led him to design this innovative leg of wood and leather with a jointed ankle and foot.
- Victorian Hair Art
Creating art, jewelry, and wreaths was a common practice in the Nineteenth Century. Ladies would use the hair of their family and friends to create commemorative artwork.
- Theodore Bean Collection
Theodore Bean was a cavalry officer during the Civil War and a businessman in Norristown who was the first president of the Historical Society. He also wrote a history of the county. His desk and Civil War era diaries and other papers provide a connection from local history, to the society’s history and he is buried in Montgomery Cemetery.
- Firefighting Equipment
Early firefighters wore these large, noticeable hats so they would stand out in the crowd that inevitably gathers at a fire. Capes and coats were added later. The equipment often carries the insignia of local fire companies.
- David Rittenhouse Instruments
David Rittenhouse, American inventor and polymath, was the first American to observe the Transit of Venus from North America and he surveyed the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. The Historical Society has a clock built by Rittenhouse as well as his surveying level and quadrant.
- Thomas Hovenden
The Founders of a State was the painting the nationally known Hovenden was working on when he was killed in a railroad accident near his Plymouth Meeting home.
HSMC has a collection of ten historic clocks including ones by Benjamin and David Rittenhouse, Joseph Thomas, Jacob D. Custer, and Isaiah Lukens, who made the clock on Independence Hall.
- Almshouse Painting
Charles Hofman was a German born painter who lived at various county almshouses in Pennsylvania. He often paid for his stay with a painting. Today he is a well-known folk artist with paintings in the National Gallery.
- First Map of Montgomery County
The first map of the future Montgomery County, it shows the location of the future Norristown and has a description of the land.
The Historical Society has several examples of Fraktur, illuminated Pennsylvania-Dutch documents often recording major life events such as births or marriages.
- Cannon Stove
Built in Lancaster County in 1763 by Henry William Stiegel, this stove was used by Providence Friends’ Meeting House.
- Ziegler Organ
John Ziegler of Skippack built his organ for his daughter Sarah in 1852. It has the most elaborate case of all the known Ziegler organs.
- Flag of the 51st Pennsylvania Volunteers
The 51st Pennsylvania Volunteers was recruited by then Colonel John F. Hartranft early in the Civil War. The 51st saw action at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, and Cold Harbor.
The Historical Society has a collection of over 60 Daguerreotype photographs, including several rare full plate images of Norristown, other are mostly portraits of local people.