Brethren Historical Library and Archives
Hidden gems: Abraham Harley Cassel (1820-1908)
Described as “the foremost Pennsylvania German bibliophile and a widely known authority on the literature of the Germans in America…,” Abraham Cassel was a 19th-century Pennsylvania German book collector and antiquarian whose personal collection in his home in Harleysville, PA, - the “Cassel Library” –served as the major informational source for Martin Grove Brumbaugh’s History of the German Baptist Brethren (1899). Brumbaugh also dedicated the book to Cassel.
A descendant of Johann Christoph Sauer and Peter Becker, Cassel’s collection contained over 8,000 books and more than 40,000 pamphlets, manuscripts, and other ephemera. M. G. Brumbaugh stated that “Our history was engraved and preserved on the shelves of his library. He kept safe our records as a denomination.”
Abraham Harley Cassel’s library was eventually distributed among several Brethren-related colleges and Bethany Theological Seminary, with a large portion also going to The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.