The Bethlehem Diary, Volume 1, 1742-1744


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This is the first volume of the longest-running chronicle of an American City: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The multi-volume diary, which is still being kept, was written in German until 1865 and thereafter in English. This volume, the first to be translated and published, contains important information relating to Bethlehem and to a large portion of what is now the eastern United States. Although Bethlehem was founded as a Moravian community, the members did not live in total isolation. They had contact with Philadelphia and New York, with smaller localities in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and with Native Americans in Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. The diary begins on June 17, 1742, when everyone in Bethlehem was living in one large building called the Gemeinhaus. The diary describes many of the customs and practices of the early Moravians and shows how the community grew through immigration from abroad and by attracting people from surrounding areas. Bethlehem’s population included individuals from many different countries in Europe and a number of Indians and Blacks. By original religious affiliation, there were Lutherans, Reformed, Quakers, Baptists, and even Roman Catholics, as well as decedents of members of the old Unitas Fratrum Church in Moravia. A special feature of the diary concerns the activities of Count Zinzendorf, the Moravian leader, who was in America at the beginning of this period. He organized the congregation of Bethlehem, made three trips into Indian territory, and was involved in ecumenical activities in America before returning to Europe in 1743.

The Moravian Archives, The Bethlehem Diary Volume 1 1742-1744 (Bethlehem, The Archives of the Moravian Church, 1971) 251 p.