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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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
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1/29/15
Author: Sarah Leu

Isaiah Williamson was born into a family of Quaker farmers in Fallsington, Pennsylvania (Bucks County) on February 4, 1803. Raised on the family farm alongside seven siblings, by 1818, Williamson had begun working as an apprentice in a store near his home. Over the course of the next seven years, he saved enough money to open and run his own dry goods store in Philadelphia.

Topics: Business, Education
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1/23/15
Author: Sarah Leu

Philadelphia's Central High School is the second oldest continuously public high school in the United States. Chartered in 1836, its first building, located at Juniper and Market streets, opened its doors in 1838. The school has changed buildings three times (1854, 1900, and 1939) since then and is currently located in its fourth building at the corner of Ogontz and Olney avenues. Since 1849, Central has been allowed to grant Bachelor of Arts degrees to its graduates who have met the degree requirements. Today, Central is the only high school in the country with this ability.

Topics: Education
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1/14/15
Author: Sarah Leu

In 1956, Philadelphia area folk musicians George Britton and Mike Marmel, folk music enthusiast Joe Aronson, and other local folk artists and fans discussed the possibility of creating a group (open to performers and non-performers alike) centered around the performance and enjoyment of folk and traditional music. After further discussion, it was decided that this group would hold nine meetings each year with each meeting consisting of a small performance in an intimate setting.

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1/7/15
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Darby Library Company was founded in 1743, a subscription library open to any paying subscriber (although not gratis to the public). The original twenty-nine subscribers authorized the purchase of forty-five volumes at a cost of 11 Pounds, 10 Shillings, Sterling. The list of titles - a few of which are visible in the image at the top of this post - reveals the values and aspirations of the subscribers.

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12/19/14
Author: Sarah Leu

St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was established in 1758 by members of Christ Church who had moved to the new neighborhood of Society Hill. This new church helped to ease the number of worshippers at Christ Church, which had begun feel the effects of overcrowding in the 1750s. It also allowed those in Society Hill to have a center of worship closer to their homes. St. Peter's remained linked to Christ Church (they were jointly run with the same rector, vestry, and wardens) under the moniker "The United Churches of Christ Church and St. Peter's" until 1832.

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12/17/14
Author: Sarah Leu

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania will be closed all of next week in observance of the Christmas holiday. That's why we wanted to take this time to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season. As we have often done in the past at this time of year, featured below are some of the Christmas inspired images we've seen in the archives of small repositories. Enjoy!

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