After the Civil War the Borough of South Bethlehem was formed. In 1886 the Borough of West Bethlehem (in Lehigh County) was formed. In 1904, the Boroughs of West Bethlehem (in Lehigh County) and Bethlehem (in Northampton County) merged. In 1917, the Borough of South Bethlehem and Bethlehem merged to become the City of Bethlehem, with Archibald Johnston (1865-1948) selected as the new city’s first mayor.

South Bethlehem Historical Society 35th Annual VIRTUAL Meeting 2020:
Guest Speaker: Rayah Levy, Head of Adult Services, Bethlehem Area Public Library.

Click here to watch.
<<Video will be available October 13, 2020 at 7:00pm>>

The local history room at the library has a lot of information on the Moravians, who founded Bethlehem in the 1700s. The Moravians owned slaves, and since the Black history of Bethlehem goes back hundreds of years to its founding, I was also hoping to incorporate the descendants of the African Moravians into the project.

However, I was unable to find subjects from this part of history to interview. What happened to the descendants of that Black community was a puzzle that I wanted to unravel. Despite the conundrum of the Black Moravians, I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to expand the library’s local history collection to be more diverse and to tell untold stories. The students walking in that day was the spark I needed to begin this project.

Learn more about the project:

View the Digital Archive and listen to the Oral History Collection:

Our Mission

The purpose of the South Bethlehem Historical Society is to preserve and make known the Second Chapter of Bethlehem’s History (1850 – on) by focusing on the individuals, ethnic groups and material evidence which helped make possible the industrialization of South Bethlehem


Discover South Bethlehem memories and walking tour app created by Karen Samuels.

Donate to a Collection

The South Bethlehem Historical Society welcomes any artifacts, historical documents, photos and more.
Click here to fill out a brief form about your donation. Thank you!

Contact Us

South Bethlehem Historical Society
P.O. Box 5106 Bethlehem, PA 18015