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.

 

 

9/2/14
Author: Sarah Leu

Historic St. George’s Church located on 4th and New streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is American Methodism’s oldest church building in continuous service. Based in the teachings of John Wesley (1703-1791), Methodism is a protestant Christian faith. Methodists first began meeting at St. George’s in 1769- six years before the start of the American Revolution and fifteen years before the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in Baltimore, Maryland in 1784. Francis Asbury, one of the Methodist Episcopal Church’s first bishops, was a pastor at St.

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8/26/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

The Delaware County Institute of Science in Media (Pa.) is the old style of natural history museum. Specimens canoodle in packed exhibition cases; an eagle perches above the lecture hall podium; a bear roars from between auditorium seats. The all-volunteer, free museum has undergone some changes since its founding in 1833, but retains its 19th century aura. It probably doesn't look much different now than it did when Graceanna Lewis (1821-1912), the well-known naturalist and social reformer, was a member.

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8/19/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Established in 1892, the Philadelphia Society of Free Letts, or Filadelfijas Brīvo Latvju Biedrība (BLB), is the oldest Latvian Society outside of Latvia.

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8/11/14
Author: Sarah Leu

Settled by Europeans in the early 18th century, the Borough of Downingtown (Chester County) was once located on the western frontier of Pennsylvania. In fact, the original name of Downingtown was Milltown because it was the last place you would see mills on your way West. Despite its initial remote location, Downingtown quickly became a hub of activity. Located on East Branch Brandywine Creek, mills prospered there in the 18th century.

Topics: Business, Industry, Women
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8/6/14
Author: Sarah Leu

The area that is now known as Marple Township in Delaware County, Pennsylvania was purchased by a group of Quakers from the Cheshire region of England looking to build a new life for themselves. Francis Stanfield, Jonathon Hayes, and John Howell purchased the largest amounts of land in this area. It is thought by many that Marple Township received its name from the place in England in which Stanfield’s youngest daughter had been born, Marpool (today known as Marple, near Manchester in the United Kingdom).

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7/27/14
Author: Sarah Leu

Although European settlers had been living in the area of Nether Providence Township (Delaware County, Pennsylvania) since the mid-1600s, Nether Providence Township was established in the late 1680s when Providence Township was split into Upper and Nether Providence townships. Nether Providence was initially a farming community, but quickly emerged as a manufacturing center laden with various types of mills due to its location between Crum Creek and Ridley Creek.

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7/22/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Mushroom farming is widely carried on in Kennett Township (Chester County, Pa.), but this area is more than just the cultivator of delicious fungus. A stronghold of radical Quakers and free blacks in the 19th century, Kennett Township 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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7/15/14
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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7/8/14
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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7/1/14
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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