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 important but often hidden archival collections held by the many small, primarily volunteer-run historical organizations in the Philadelphia area. 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.

 

 

7/23/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

The Borough of Kennett Square (Chester County, Pa.) is widely known as the "Mushroom Capital of the World"-- and in fact, the region does produce more than half of the crop consumed in the United States -- but Kennett is more than just the cultivator of delicious fungus. A stronghold of radical Quakers and free blacks in the 19th century, it was also the home of poet and travel writer Bayard Taylor, and is a community with a rich and vibrant history. In addition to preserving historical buildings in the area, the Kennett Township Historical Commission collects documents relating to the township's history.

Topics: Abolition
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7/16/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

One of the first churches in the United States founded by and for persons of African descent, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas is significant in the history of Philadelphia, the Episcopal Church, and civil rights. Its founder, the Reverend Absalom Jones (1746-1818), was the first person of African descent ordained in the Episcopal Church of the United States.

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7/9/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Dr. Albert C. Barnes (1872-1951) is almost as famous for being an eccentric, innovative curmudgeon as he is for amassing a world-class art collection. Less well known is his collaborator Violette de Mazia (1896-1988), who served as his right-hand woman towards the end of his life, especially when it came to the administration of the Barnes Foundation's art education program.

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7/2/14
Author: Sarah Leu

Large numbers of Irish immigrants came to the United States in the second half of the 19th century seeking better opportunities. Many of them settled in the large cities they arrived in because they did not have enough money to travel very far. During the 1870s, several members of Michael Kelly and Mary (Loughnane) Kelly’s family immigrated to Philadelphia, including their daughters Mary Ann, Margaret, and Sarah. Mary Ann soon met and married Dennis O’Brien.

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6/18/14
Author: Sarah Leu

History buff, school teacher, musician, radio commentator, collector- Christian Carmack Sanderson (1882-1966) donned all of these hats and more! Born in Port Providence, Pennsylvania (Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County), Sanderson lived in and around that area until he went to West Chester Normal School (now West Chester University) in the fall of 1898.

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6/11/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

It's still a few months before football starts, but if you can't wait that long, remember that archival research is always in season! Youth football in King of Prussia "kicked off" in 1956 when the King of Prussia Indians team was formed by Mary and Dave Vannicelli. Still going strong nearly 60 years later, the story of the sports organization, now known as the Upper Merion Viking Youth Football Association, is told in the Mary and Dave Vannicelli collection on the King of Prussia Football Association. The collection can be found at the King of Prussia Historical Society in Montgomery County, Pa.

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6/4/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

For LGBT Pride Month this June, we are celebrating the John J. Wilcox Jr. GLBT Archives of Philadelphia at the William Way Center. Their recently awarded $330,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation will help turn the Center's Archives into one of the top facilities for LGBT history in the region and the country!

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5/28/14
Author: Sarah Leu

During the second half of the 19th century, Philadelphia was known as “The Workshop of the World.” Unlike many other cities in the United States that had become known for a particular industry, Philadelphia was known for its variety of industry, especially in the area north of Market Street and east of 10th Street, part of Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood. Among these streets one could find clock manufacturers, tin and sheet iron factories, shoe factories, toy factories, and several other manufacturing companies.

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5/21/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Calling all ferroequinologists! If you are interested in the history of trains, specifically Philadelphia suburban trolleys around the turn of the 20th century, catch the next Norristown High Speed Line to the Haverford Township Historical Society. The Society is home to a large collection of glass plates and photographs from railroad engineer Wilbur Hall.

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5/14/14
Author: Sarah Leu

Sellersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania is named for one of its prominent citizens, Samuel Sellers. In the 18th century, Sellers built and operated Sellers’ Tavern on the main road in town and also served in the Pennsylvania legislature and as a sheriff for Bucks County. The tavern built by Sellers was a focal point around which the rest of the community grew, and it even served as the town’s post office for many years.

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