Archival Adventures in Small Repositories
Small Repository Research Subject Guide
Are you looking for sources on your historical research topic, but desire a fresh alternative to the well-trodden archival canon? Try a small repository!
On the Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories, we have discovered some incredible underutilized--or altogether untapped--archival resources in the Philadelphia area. In this blog post, I'll highlight a few collections that present strong research potential. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but just points out some noteworthy resources in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.
- Historical Society of Tacony: Historical Society of Tacony Frank Shuman collection, 1912-2011, 0.5 linear feet -- Frank Shuman designed the world's first solar power plant
- Sunrise Mill: Chevalier Jackson papers, 1914-1940, 9.8 linear feet -- Chevalier Jackson invented the bronchoscope for removing foreign bodies from throats
- American Swedish Historical Museum: American Swedish Historical Museum John Ericsson collection, 1838-1938 [bulk 1859-1890], 16 linear feet -- John Ericsson's inventions helped the U.S. Navy during the Civil War
- Strawberry Mansion: Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition of 1926 records, 1921-1927 [bulk 1926-1926], 7.25 linear feet -- The Women's Committee's Revolutionary-era reconstruction "High Street" was the biggest success of the failed 1926 exposition
- Worcester Historical Society: Christine Shearer and Irma Schultz scrapbooks, 1935-1970, 1.5 linear feet -- By winning big bucks in commercial jingle-writing contests, these sisters combat the stereotype of women as passive consumers vulnerable to advertisers' tricks
- Germantown Historical Society: Foulke and Long Institute for Orphan Girls records, 1857-1948, 4.75 linear feet -- Records offer a glimpse into the lives of orphan girls, among the most powerless groups in society
- 1st Regiment Infantry Museum: 1st Regiment Infantry, Pennsylvania records, 1812-1970, 16 linear feet -- Records of the oldest continuously existing troop in the United States National Guard
- Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library: Records of numerous G.A.R. posts -- "Personal War Sketches," often included in post records, detail Civil War veterans' reminiscences
- Historical Society of Montgomery County: Fornance and Knox family papers, 1815-1976, 23 linear feet -- This large collection of family papers includes robust correspondence and photographs from World War I
- Germantown Historical Society: Germantown Relief Society records, 1873-1953, 2.5 linear feet -- Records of the first US group to organize and coordinate charitable work
- Wissahickon Valley Historical Society: Amchem Products, Inc. records, 1925-1986, 7.5 linear feet -- The founder of this company's paid off all his employees debts as their Christmas bonus in 1936
- Eastern State Penitentiary: State Penitentiary for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania records, circa 1830-1970, 31 linear feet -- The Quakers who founded this historic prison thought they were helping inmates become penitent
Art and artists
- Philadelphia Sketch Club: Philadelphia Sketch Club records, 1860-2012, 54 linear feet -- Records of America's oldest club for artists
- Mummers Museum: Robert H. Finnigan costume sketches, circa 1966-1978, 2.25 linear feet -- Beautifully rendered sketches of costumes for Philadelphia's unique New Year's parade tradition
- Old York Road Historical Society: Russell Smith family papers, 6 linear feet -- Russell Smith (1812-1896) was a landscape painter who became a prominent theater curtain painter, and his son Xanthus (1839-1929) was known for his Civil War naval battle scenes
About the Author
Unless otherwise noted, all images in this blog post are property of the organization profiled, not the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. To reproduce any image or obtain a higher quality version, please contact the organization directly.