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Snow Hill Cloister

Image - Building in the Snow Hill Cloister

Snow Hill Cloister

Description of the Snow Hill Cloister Collection

This is a collection of photographs related to the Snow Hill Cloister near Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. A finding aid to Snow Hill Cloister manuscripts in the Communal Societies Collection is also available.

 

Background Information

The Snow Hill Cloister (Nunnery) was established in 1829 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, on the farm of Andreas Schneeberger (Andrew Snowberger) and housed a celibate brotherhood and sisterhood in a large community house (nunnery). Married members of the congregation were permitted to worship with the celibates, as had been the custom at the more well-known Ephrata Cloister, a communal settlement of German immigrants established in 1732 by Conrad Beissel in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Members of the Snow Hill community continued composing and singing hymns in the Ephrata tradition until 1872, when the society dwindled to eight sisters and eight brothers. The society itself came to an end in 1889, and the last celibate brother at Snow Hill, Obed Snowberger, died in 1895.

The physical property had been maintained by an elected board of trustees; however, despite extreme controversy, the contents of the buildings were sold at auction on August 11, 1997. Publicity for the auction induced keen interest in one of America’s little-known communal societies, and in fewer than nine hours a segment of America’s history was dispersed before a crowd of fifteen hundred. The sale generated a sum of $837,860. A small congregation of five members continued to meet weekly for worship services at the site for a few years into the first decade of the twentieth century. In late 2013, thirteen acres housing the buildings and the cemetery were sold to a private buyer.

Snow Hill: In the Shadows of the Ephrata Cloister (The Kent State University Press, 2010) is a first-person account of Denise A. Seachrist’s fieldwork and research conducted at this site. It is a story of people, then and “now,” as well as of place, then and “now”. Seachrist’s approach is primarily ethnographic, in keeping with, and important to, a study of community.

Research on site at Hamilton College

To schedule a research visit, please contact us in advance.

Christian Goodwillie, Director and Curator of Special Collections and Archives
E-mail: cgoodwil (at) hamilton (dot) edu
Telephone: (315) 859-4447

Special Collections
Burke Library
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
Regular hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Materials Digitized

This collection currently consists of 797 photographs. The majority of the images in the Snow Hill Collection supported at Hamilton College were taken by Denise Seachrist during the spring and summer of 1991 as she conducted fieldwork for her doctoral degree in musicology-ethnomusicology, which was granted by Kent State University in 1993. Other images in the collection include the Moravian sites in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1992), a Mennonite Hymn Sing at the Mauck Meeting House in Luray, Virginia (1992), the Ephrata Cloister Conference on Music, Fraktur, and Architecture (1995), a performance by the Ephrata Cloister Chorus at Snow Hill (1996), the Snow Hill Display at Renfrew Museum in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania (1996), a baptism at Snow Hill (1996), and the Snow Hill Auction at Horst Auction House (1997).

View Snow Hill items

Chest, dresser, and chair in room at Snow Hill Cloister
Seachrist, Denise A. (Photographer)
Franklin County (Pa.)
Snow Hill Baptism
Borrowed from Denise A. Seachrist for purposes of digitization.
Original digital object name: yhm-spe-shc-vis-1023
Collection: Snow Hill Cloister
Children playing in creek at Snow Hill Cloister
Seachrist, Denise A. (Photographer)
Franklin County (Pa.)
Snow Hill Baptism
Borrowed from Denise A. Seachrist for purposes of digitization.
Original digital object name: yhm-spe-shc-vis-1033
Collection: Snow Hill Cloister
Children playing in creek at Snow Hill Cloister
Seachrist, Denise A. (Photographer)
Franklin County (Pa.)
Snow Hill Baptism
Borrowed from Denise A. Seachrist for purposes of digitization.
Original digital object name: yhm-spe-shc-vis-1034
Collection: Snow Hill Cloister
China upboard in dining room at Snow Hill Cloister
Seachrist, Denise A. (Photographer)
Franklin County (Pa.)
Borrowed from Denise A. Seachrist for purposes of digitization.
Original digital object name: yhm-spe-shc-vis-0101
Collection: Snow Hill Cloister
Church sign at Snow Hill Cloister
Seachrist, Denise A. (Photographer)
Franklin County (Pa.)
Sign outside church reads: "Snow Hill; Seventh Day; German Baptists; Services Sat. 10 A.M."
Borrowed from Denise A. Seachrist for purposes of digitization.
Original digital object name: yhm-spe-shc-vis-0238
Collection: Snow Hill Cloister
Communion foot-washing basins in dining room at Snow Hill Cloister
Seachrist, Denise A. (Photographer)
Franklin County (Pa.)
Borrowed from Denise A. Seachrist for purposes of digitization.
Original digital object name: yhm-spe-shc-vis-0257
Collection: Snow Hill Cloister
Communion foot-washing basins in dining room at Snow Hill Cloister
Seachrist, Denise A. (Photographer)
Franklin County (Pa.)
Borrowed from Denise A. Seachrist for purposes of digitization.
Original digital object name: yhm-spe-shc-vis-0258
Collection: Snow Hill Cloister
Communion glasses at Snow Hill Cloister
Seachrist, Denise A. (Photographer)
Franklin County (Pa.)
Borrowed from Denise A. Seachrist for purposes of digitization.
Original digital object name: yhm-spe-shc-vis-0259
Collection: Snow Hill Cloister
Communion service at Snow Hill Cloister
Seachrist, Denise A. (Photographer)
Franklin County (Pa.)
Borrowed from Denise A. Seachrist for purposes of digitization.
Original digital object name: yhm-spe-shc-vis-0260
Collection: Snow Hill Cloister
Cooling board in attic at Snow Hill Cloister
Seachrist, Denise A. (Photographer)
Franklin County (Pa.)
Borrowed from Denise A. Seachrist for purposes of digitization.
Original digital object name: yhm-spe-shc-vis-0428
Collection: Snow Hill Cloister

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