Collections at Moravian Historical Society
The Moravian Historical Society was founded in 1857, the year after the Moravian settlement in Nazareth changed from a Church governed communal project into a civic community. The collection celebrates the rich culture of the Moravians, not only in Nazareth, but all over the world. Currently the collection consists of more than 20,000 objects including paintings, musical instruments, textiles, decorative arts, firearms, scientific instruments, photographs, a rare book library, and archives.
The Moravian Historical Society archives collection contains original 18th-century daily diaries, letters, deeds, maps, drawings, ledgers, and genealogies.
The Moravian Historical Society’s library contains over 5,000 titles. The library contains many first editions and important copies of Moravian texts. Authors include: John Amos Comenius, Augustus Spangenberg, Nicholas Ludwig Zinzendorf, John Cennick, and David Zeisberger.
The majority of the collections relate to the everyday lives of Moravians, including a variety of historic tools, musical instruments, textiles, and decorative arts. Moravian craftsmanship in the eighteenth and nineteenth century was particularly outstanding in instrument making and gunsmithing, several fine examples are in the MHS collection. A large collection of international objects collected by Moravian missionaries span the globe. The putz collection, a selection of which is displayed every Christmas, includes elaborate miniatures that illustrate the story of Christmas. The collection of paintings, and works on paper include many portraits of important Moravians, images of the early settlements, architecture, maps, and religious scenes.
Highlights of our collection include:
• The earliest-known violin made in the America by John Antes.
• A 1776 pipe organ made by David Tannenberg, the most important organ-builder of his time.
• 23 oil paintings by John Valentine Haidt (1700–1780), the first artist in America to portray chiefly religious topics.
• A tile stove made prior to 1775.
The photograph collection documents life in the Lehigh Valley, Moravian mission work, Moravian schools including Nazareth Hall, and important figures in the Moravian Church.