Valley Forge National Historical Park is the caretaker of a diverse collection of artifacts and documents related to the 1777-1778 encampment at Valley Forge and to the soldiers and officers who fought for our nation’s independence.
The George C. Neumann Collection
Comprised of approximately 1600 historic items, the Neumann collection consists of four separate, yet related, parts: firearms, edged weapons, pole arms, and accouterments. It is through the study of these weapons and their use that we gain an understanding of how the common soldier achieved victory.
This selection of featured Revolutionary War firearms includes weapons from both sides of the conflict. The guns were were made by various manufacturers in different countries, including England, Germany, Spain, France, and America. Several different types are represented here: flintlock muskets, fowlers, carbines, and rifles.
This selection includes various swords and other bladed weapons. It contains military swords, hunting swords, halberds, a spontoon, and a pike. The hunting swords were civilian weapons that were used as symbols of rank by American officers who could not afford heavier military swords. The halberds in this collection are also distinctive. Locally made, their exuberant designs are examples of American folk art.
The John F. Reed Collection
This archival collection contains rare 18th century manuscripts, broadsides, pamphlets, and books collected by the late John Ford Reed. The best known of these documents is the letter written at Valley Forge by General Washington. Dated 23 December 1777, the letter expresses the plight of the American army.
The Digital Vault
Additional artifacts and documents from the Neumann and Reed collections can be viewed on The Digital Vault, a website designed to promote the George C. Neumann Collection and John F. Reed Collection. The site provides open online access of the museum collections at Valley Forge National Historical Park to visitors and researchers.
This searchable online collection includes maps and architectural drawings made for the Valley Forge Park Commission during the twentieth century. The collection is organized by individual architects' works for the commission and additional collections will continue to be added as they are processed.
The Archaeological Collection
Extensive archeological work has been conducted within the park documenting various aspects of the encampment, including domestic life, military training, and demographic patterns. Archaeological research has complemented and supplemented gaps in the historical record, and provided valuable information regarding the life and work of soldiers.
Over the years the park has collected images of the historic houses and of the park grounds. These images document changes that have occurred overtime and help the park make positive decisions about the care of these national treasures. They also provide insight into how the history of Valley Forge has been interpreted from the beginnings of the preservation movement in the 1870s up to today.
To ensure the future of the documents inherited from John Ford Reed, the park received a Save America’s Treasures grant to fund necessary conservation of 44 of the most fragile of these rare documents. Images and descriptions of the treatment received by two of the documents are now available:
Digital PresentationsThe museum staff of Valley Forge National Historical Park have created presentations and photo galleries about portions of the Neumann and Reed Collection based on subject.
Please visit our Library and Archive Services page for more information about services offered by the Park Curator or to make an appointment to see the collections.
Last updated: March 28, 2022