Archival Adventures in Small Repositories

The goal of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's "Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories" (HCI-PSAR) is to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections at small archival repositories in the five-county Philadelphia region. These include volunteer-run historical institutions, museums, fraternal and ethnic organizations, community groups, churches, clubs, and other non-profit organizations with important archival collections. The project is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This blog will document the adventures and experiences of Project Surveyors as they visit historical societies, museums, historic sites, and other small archival repositories in the five-county Philadelphia area.

 

 

7/15/15
Author: Anastasia Matijkiw

Back in February, we announced the beginning of the Small Archives Forums, a series of free programs designed to explore archival concepts and build connections among Philadelphia area small archives. The forum series aims to teach new archival skills while also fostering community among small archives and laying the groundwork for ongoing knowledge-sharing and cooperation. Starting with our first event in February 2015, programs have covered topics such as digitization, preservation, and processing.

Comments: 0
6/25/15
Author: Anastasia Matijkiw

In 1895, a group of fourteen women in Bucks County, Pennsylvania joined together to improve the quality of life in their community, forming the Village Improvement Association (VIA). Twenty-eight years later in 1923, the same group founded the Doylestown Hospital. Today, the Village Improvement Association of Doylestown is over 120 years old, has over three hundred and fifty members, host annual fundraisers, oversees a retirement community in addition to Doylestown Hospital, and continues to support projects improving the quality of life in Bucks County.

Topics: Women
Comments: 0
6/10/15
Author: Sarah Leu

Although it is now a neighborhood in the northwest part of Philadelphia, Germantown was founded by German Quaker and Mennonite families in the 17th century as an independent community.  It was the first permanent Mennonite settlement established in this part of the world. In 1708, the Mennonites built the first Mennonite Meetinghouse in America along what would become Germantown Avenue. This meetinghouse is no longer standing, but the Mennonites built a “new” meetinghouse on the same spot in 1770.

Comments: 0
6/3/15
Author: Sarah Leu

This past winter and spring HCI-PSAR facilitated an internship program that paired emerging archivists in need of hands-on experience with small repositories in need of processing assistance and large repositories willing to train and supervise the intern. We matched intern Diane Biunno with Radnor Historical Society and Independence Seaport Museum. Diane reflected on the Edward Brownlee collection, the Musical Coterie of Wayne records, and her other experiences in the blog below.

Comments: 2
5/27/15
Author: Anastasia Matijkiw

Imagine taking an afternoon stroll through a meticulously sculpted garden, winding along pathways lined with flowers and shrubberies overlooking majestic view of the Schuylkill River. Detailed sculptures are scattered along the path, depicting cherubs and angels. You pass stelae and obelisks, and as you continue, you find yourself surrounded by elaborate mausoleums. Not only are the stone structures beautiful works of art, decorated with detailed carvings and Tiffany stained glass windows, but they also serve as the final resting place for the deceased.

Topics: 19th century
Comments: 0
5/22/15
Author: Sarah Leu

This past winter and spring HCI-PSAR facilitated an internship program that paired emerging archivists in need of hands-on experience with small repositories in need of processing assistance and large repositories willing to train and supervise the intern. We matched intern Daniel DelViscio with the Old York Road Historical Society and Drexel University College of Medicine Archives & Special Collections. Daniel reflected on Isabel Smith Stein collection on Elizabeth Cisney Smith, the Kiwanis Club of Jenkintown records, and his other experiences in the blog below.

Comments: 2
2/25/15
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

After nearly 3½ years working on the Small Repositories Project, the time has come for me to say good-bye. I'm more than a little sad to be leaving HCI-PSAR prematurely (Phase III will end April 2016), even though I'm delighted to be accepting a new position at the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College. It gives me some solace to reflect on my accomplishments as HCI-PSAR Senior Project Surveyor, so I hope you'll indulge me here.

In the past 3½ years, I personally have:

Comments: 6
2/18/15
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

In the three and a half years I've worked on the HCI-PSAR project, I've met hundreds of individuals at area small repositories who are passionate about preserving the archival collections under their care. I've been impressed at how proactive many of you have been in seeking opportunities to learn professional standards, but I've also noticed that you each bring a unique perspective and innovative ideas to the tasks at hand.

Comments: 0
2/13/15
Author: Sarah Leu

Because Presidents' Day is this coming Monday, this week's blog post will highlight materials related to United States presidents that we have found in the collections of small repositories during the course of the HCI-PSAR project.

Comments: 0
2/4/15
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Hold onto your yarmulkes and brush up on your Hebrew! In this week's blog post, we'll delve deep into the archives of Mikveh Israel of Philadelphia, one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the United States. Its congregants have included many luminaries who were influential in religious and secular contexts, locally and often nationally. Of course, not all of Mikveh Israel's members are famous. Mikveh Israel's extensive archives also document the lives of ordinary Jews and the Jewish community in Philadelphia, covering more than 250 years. 

Topics: Religion
Comments: 0