PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records




Manuscript Group 455
4 cubic feet

In July 1869 a group of gentlemen conceived the idea of spending a few days in the mountains to enjoy the atmosphere, cool water, and scenery. They decided the location for the first camping excursion would be in Horse Valley, located in Upper Strasburg, Pennsylvania. After this first camping experience there was a lapse of time until the second camping excursion in August 1872. During this second encampment, the gentlemen decided to form a permanent organization. Officers were elected, the name "The Explorers" was adopted, a decision was made to purchase tents for the next annual camp, and dues were assessed at $3.50 per member. There were no printed rules governing the behavior of the men, but it was decided that there would be no card games or intoxicating liquor brought to camp. The Explorers did not have a permanent site, but camped annually at various locations. However, in 1913, Charles C. Schriver, Secretary of the Explorers, filed the first application for a leasehold. In 1916 Pine Grove Furnace became the permanent quarters for the Explorers, active membersship was limited to twenty-eight and members who styled themselves as "Colonels." Annual encampments were dedicated to male fellowship that included engaging in such activities as "goofy golf." Cabins were eventually added to the Pine Grove site.

The records of the Explorers Club of Pennsylvania include club minutes and bulletins, camp narratives, logbooks and one camp guest book, correspondence, the charter of incorporation, by-laws, account and financial records, photograph and scrap albums, slides, and newspaper clippings. Information concerning the administration and events of camps is essentially complete from 1872-1988. Information from 1950 onward is best represented, as material referring to earlier camps and activities and does not always contain the same kind of a consistent depth and breadth, although there are portions of handwritten narratives that discuss earlier encampments. Much of the information comes by way of bulletins and minutes sent to the membership that recite camp activities, decisions made by the membership, and other club business. Other important administrative records are the charter of incorporation and copies of the original and updated by-laws. Correspondence is most complete from 1964 to 1981. While letters generally occur between individual club members, the correspondence files also include Michaux Forest Association newsletters and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources notices. The financial records of the club are intermittent, covering inclusively the accounts pertaining to the years 1914-1954, and 1977-1983. Insurance and lease records exist for a period from 1960-1974. Account records and information sometimes appears in bulletins, minutes, and committee reports, as well as occasionally in the general correspondence. The Explorers kept a good collection of photographs and slides of their encampments, which offers an interesting and often entertaining glimpse of what an Explorers camp was like. Of particular interest are the photograph albums of early encampments beginning around 1904 and the collection of slides covering the years 1958-1977. Membership albums contain photographs of each member. Numerous scrapbooks contain news clippings and information pertaining to a variety of activities, camp related and not, from 1884-mid-1940's.

The records are arranged in subgroups. Administrative and financial records make up two subgroups, and photographic records constitute a third. Within these subgroups, records are arranged in series based on the type of file or subject. The file organization of the Explorers Club has been maintained as accurately as possible. Within the series, records are arranged chronologically.

As a result of time and wear, some nitrate photographic negatives were destroyed. However, these negatives all had corresponding photographs, so no images were lost permanently.




PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records