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Our collection of more than 4,000 artifacts and documents is at the heart of the Museum's experience. The collection began more than a century ago, in 1907, when Reverend W. Herbert Burk started a two-year fundraising effort to acquire the tent that General George Washington used as his mobile headquarters during much of the Revolutionary War. In 1918, Burk established the Valley Forge Historical Society. Today, the Museum’s collection is part of the legacy of that organization.

We continue to add significant items to our collection through object donations and dedicated funding from donors to enhance the Museum’s multifaceted storytelling. We also strive to provide superior stewardship for our collection, to preserve it for generations to come.

In honor of our fifth anniversary, we are pleased to share these selections from our collecting and stewardship since we opened in 2017. These objects reflect our mission to uncover and share compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. Some witnessed the Revolutionary War, while others reflect memories of that era or of that ongoing experiment.

See the display on view at the Museum in the Color Guard of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution case on the second floor through the end of 2022.

Washington’s Encampment at Valley Forge, 1840-1850

An oil on canvas painting by an unidentified artist depicts Washington's army's encampment at Valley Forge.
Museum of the American Revolution, conserved with funding from American Express

As members of the Revolutionary generation passed away during the early and mid-1800s, Americans memorialized their achievements, as this artist did. This work depicts Washington’s encampment at Valley Forge during the 1777-8 winter. Thanks to the generous support of American Express, we recently had this painting cleaned and secured in its frame to help preserve it for decades to come.

Map, Carte Nouvelle de l’Amerique Angloise…, 1776

This map depicts colonial North America and is translated into French.
Museum of the American Revolution, gift in memory of Janis Sayre Downs

British claims to North America are depicted on this map as those areas east of the Appalachian Mountains only. This was a typical French cartographic convention, which, along with its French text, identifies it as a map made for the French market.

Rebecca Young Ad in The Pennsylvania Packet, June 26, 1781

An ad for Rebecca Flower Young's seamstress services appears in the  Pennsylvania Packet in June 1781.
Museum of the American Revolution

Rebecca Young advertised her flag-making business, located about a block from where the Museum stands today, on the front page. In addition to filling in details about a Philadelphia woman-owned business, this ad helps us to tell Rebecca’s story with one of our discovery cart programs.

Receipt for Blanket, 1777 & Pay Table Receipt, 1782

On the left, a 1777 receipt for a blanket and on the right, a pay-table receipt that are part of the Museum's Patriots Of Color Archive Documents.
Museum of the American Revolution with the support of Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III in memory of Daniel W. Offit, Denise Foderaro and Frank Quattrone, Bank of America, Philip Syng Reese, Ed Satell and the Satell Family Foundation, with additional support from Tim Collins and the Museum’s Collections Society

These documents are part of the Patriots of Color archive, a collection of 194 documents associated with African American and Native American Revolutionary War soldiers. The archive offers the opportunity for new insights about the experience of soldiers of color, as well as about the challenges in supplying and paying the Continental Army. The pay table receipt (right) is for Tuis Sharper who served as a private from 1777 to 1780 in the Connecticut line of the Continental Army.

Bunker Hill Monument Ribbons, 1825

Battle of Bunker Hill Memorial Ribbons given out to commemorate the anniversary of the battle in 1825.
Museum of the American Revolution

Forty veterans of the Battle of Bunker Hill, along with 190 Revolutionary War veterans, attended a 50th anniversary event in 1825 and wore ribbons like these. These ribbons are thought to have been worn by Lemuel Coffin of Newburyport, Massachusetts, who served from 1775 to 1779, including a stint in the “Commander-in-Chief’s Guard.”

The Juvenile Adventures of Christopher Hawkins, 1834

A copy of The Juvenile Adventures Of Christopher Hawkins Book documenting his service time in the Continental Army.
Museum of the American Revolution, Gift of Heywood H. and Louise S. Davis

At the age of 13 in 1777, Christopher Hawkins left Providence, Rhode Island, and sailed on a privateer ship. This memoir, which he wrote at age 70 in 1834, details his experiences including being taken prisoner more than once and escaping. His story helps us to interpret the ship in our core exhibition.

Thomas Barber's Powder Horn, 1780

Powder Horn in the Museum's collection engraved with the name Thomas Barber.
Museum of the American Revolution

The map of eastern New York decorating this powder horn suggests that its owner, Thomas Barber, may have served in the area during the War of Independence. Along with drums, swords and the initials “GW,” the horn includes an element of the later seal of the United States, adopted in 1782 – a hand clutching a sheaf of 13 arrows. The 1782 seal would feature an eagle holding 13 arrows in its talon.

Queen Charlotte Teapot, circa 1762

Teapot Depicting Queen Charlotte
Museum of the American Revolution, acquired with support from The Landenberger Family Foundation, Jim and Pam Penny, and Richard Brown and Mary Jo Otsea

We recently acquired this teapot and several other English ceramic household items. All of these pieces demonstrate the way that consumer goods communicated political viewpoints in the lead up to – and during – the American Revolution. The Queen Charlotte teapot shows the English precedent for commemorating the reigning monarchs.

Portrait Miniature of Mary McIlvaine Bloomfield, circa 1778

Mary Mcilvane Bloomfield Miniature portrait painted by Charles Willson Peale.
Museum of the American Revolution, acquired with funds provided by the Committee of Revolutionary Women including Members of the New Jersey State Society and Major Joseph Bloomfield Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution

Our When Women Lost the Vote exhibition featured Mary McIlvaine Bloomfield as a woman whom we believe voted in New Jersey in 1803. She was married to Joseph Bloomfield, Governor of New Jersey, who appears to have held more liberal views than many men of his era. The acquisition of this piece helps to fill a gap in our collection (objects related to women) and allows us to explore Mary’s story in future exhibits.

Mug, Plate, Teacup & Saucer

Cermics From Archaeological Dig at the site of the Museum include this mug, plate, teacup, and saucer.
Museum of the American Revolution

Starting in 2014, before the Museum was built, we conducted archaeological investigations of the site. We found 50 features, including privies, wells, and foundation walls, as well as 85,000 artifacts from the late 1700s through the early 1900s, including imported goods from Britain, Europe, and China and a large number of American, often Philadelphia, made objects. These are a few of the artifacts that illustrate life on our block in the 1700s. 

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Image 092320 16x9 William Trego March Valley Forge Painting Collection

Collections Society

Learn more about the Collections Society, established to help develop the Museum’s distinguished collection that spans the scope of the Revolutionary era.
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Image 032822 Declaration Of Independence Family Galleries

Plan Your Visit

View our ticket prices, upcoming events, tour options, and more to plan your next visit to the Museum.
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Patriots of Color Archive: Black and Indigenous Soldiers in the Revolutionary War

The Museum's new archive features nearly 200 rare documents bearing the names of Black and Native American soldiers who served during the Revolutionary War.
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