On April 19, 1936, during a meeting held at the Jenkintown Library, the concept of a regional historical society took root. A month later, interested community members met at the Jenkintown High School and the Old York Road Historical Society was formed. At the first meeting, on November 18th, Horace Mather Lippincott presented a scholarly paper entitled “The Old York Road” which has led to the continuation of lectures and publications by the Society throughout the years.
For many years, the collections of the historical society were stored in the several of the members’ homes. Over time, parts of the collection were moved and stored in a large closet at the Jenkintown Library, and at Sutherland Hall on the Penn State Ogontz Campus. From 1990 – 2013, after reaching a rental agreement with the Jenkintown Library, OYRHS created a research and archival facility in the lower level of the Library, with overflow of collections remaining off-site at the Pennsylvania State University, Abington. In 2013, when an opportunity arose for the Society to relocate majority of their archival holdings to one location at Alverthorpe Manor, OYRHS moved their collections and were able to create a new research and archival facility in that space.
Over the years, the Old York Road Historical Society has developed tools to help share the region’s history, such as the 1941 historical map developed of the area, or the exhibition series in 1998, of the Russell Smith Family of Painters, and the series of Arcadia Publishing photographic history books. With a collection of over 165,000 photographs, 2500 postcards, amongst other historical resources, OYRHS has accumulated the largest and most comprehensive collection of books, pamphlets, maps, photographs and other materials detailing the history of the communities along the Old York Road.