Archival Adventures in Small Repositories

Finding Aid Website Launch!

Wednesday, 9/5/12

We are very pleased to announce that the finding aid site for HSP’s Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) is now online. The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) has agreed to include finding aids created through the HCI-PSAR project on their online union catalog at http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/pacscl/index.html.

In one year of the HCI-PSAR project, we have written over 500 basic finding aids for almost 50 small historical institutions. The finding aids, or archival collection descriptions, contain summary information about each collection surveyed during the project, including subjects covered in the collections, prominent types of materials, dates and geographic regions spanned, biographical or historical background, and other pertinent details.

The PACSCL finding aid site already includes finding aids from twenty-four PACSCL-member institutions, but the inclusion of HCI-PSAR finding aids on the PACSCL site will make it even more convenient for researchers. In one online location they can search collections held at a wide range of Philadelphia area archival repositories, from the smallest all-volunteer historical society to the largest professional institution! This will make it easier to identify potentially useful collections, plan research trips, and notice relationships between materials held by different organizations. PACSCL has over 600 finding aids on its site at this moment, but that number will nearly double by the time all of the HCI-PSAR additions are included!

So far, we have already posted to the site finding aids for the papers of a Pennsylvania Governorthe inventor of the world's first solar power plant, and a family prominent in Philadelphia politics, industry, and art-collecting. We're adding more all the time, so keep an eye on our page! Coming attractions include finding aids for: records of the oldest continuously existing troop in the United States National Guard, papers of a Civil War naval engineer, and nearly complete records of a rail transit company.

Big thanks go out to the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) for agreeing to include our finding aids in their database, as well as the University of Pennsylvania Libraries--and their extremely helpful staff!--for designing and hosting the site. We are optimistic that our collaboration will be beneficial for small repositories, researchers, and the Philadelphia history community as a whole.

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