John MacCarley collection of Willow Grove Park concert programs

Collection 3147

1904-1914, 1920, 1922-1923, 1925, undated
(0.4 Linear feet ; 1 box [4 folders])

Summary Information

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
MacCarley, John.
Willow Grove Park (Willow Grove, Pa.).
John MacCarley collection of Willow Grove Park concert programs
Date [inclusive]
1904-1914, 1920, 1922-1923, 1925, undated
0.4 Linear feet ; 1 box [4 folders]
Finding aid prepared by Cary Majewicz.
Processing made possible by a generous donation from Carol A. Ingald.
Located just north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Willow Grove Park opened in 1896 and was a popular regional attraction for several decades. This collection of concert programs dating from 1904 to 1925 highlights one of the park's main features that brought popular band leaders such as John Phillips Sousa to the area.

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Biographical/Historical note

Once touted as "America's finest amusement park," Willow Grove Park was established in 1896 by the People's Traction Company, which had built a trolley line to Willow Grove the year before. Located between Welsh Road and Old York Road in Montgomery County just north of Philadelphia, the park offered many attractions to local and out-of-town visitors, including concerts and dining; picnic facilities and nature walks; rides, a racetrack, games, and gambling; and illuminated fountains. During the park’s formative years, its popular outdoor concert series brought many well-known band leaders to the region, including John Phillips Sousa, Arthur Pryor, Victor Herbert, and Walter Damrosch. By the mid-twentieth century, the grounds had evolved into a full-fledged amusement park; however, it fell into a slow decline over the 1960s and 1970s. The park finally closed in the mid 1970s and was soon after razed to make way for the Willow Grove Park Mall, which opened in 1982.

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Scope and Contents note

This collection contains roughly three hundred daily, weekly, and seasonal programs for musical concerts at the park held between 1904 and 1925, with the majority of the programs dating from the years 1906 to 1914. Altogether, they highlight a concert series that was held during the summer, from the end of May to the beginning or middle of September. (There are no programs from other months.) In addition, there is a group of undated weekly programs and an undated program for a special event entitled "Nine Days of Gala Music." Each program contains images of the day’s or week's featured band leader, the list of works to be performed, and a list of the park's features.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania , March 2010

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of John MacCarley, 2002.

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Willow Grove (Pa.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Damrosch, Walter, 1862-1950.
  • Herbert, Victor, 1859-1924.
  • Sousa, John Philip, 1854-1932.


  • Amusement parks--Pennsylvania.
  • Concerts--Willow Grove (Pa.)

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Images of America: Willow Grove Park. Arcadia Publishing: Charleston, South Carolina, 2005. (Call number UPA/Mt F 159 .W73 W54 2005)

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Programs (1904-1910) 

1 1

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Programs (1911-1914) 

1 2

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Programs (1920, 1922-1923) 

1 3

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Programs (1925, undated) 

1 4

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