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 Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.

 

 

6/27/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Have you ever been driving on the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) and gotten stuck in traffic at the Conshohocken Curve? If you live in or near Philadelphia, the answer is probably yes. If you live in or near Philadelphia and are above the age of 40, I'll ask the same question a different way: Have you ever gotten stuck in traffic around the Lee Tire Curve? The bend in the highway used to be nicknamed after the old Lee Tire Factory, a landmark until the factory closed in 1980 and the building was re-purposed for office space. To learn more about the history of the Lee Tire & Rubber Company, get off the highway and drive to the Conshohocken Historical Society!

Comments: 6
6/20/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

I don't know about you, but I was pretty excited when the National Archives launched the 1940 Census website a few months ago. Census records are an amazing research tool, especially for genealogy. If only the census happened more frequently than just once per decade! Luckily, savvy researchers know a trick: one of the best ways to learn about those census-free years is from tax records. If you happen to be researching Lower Pottsgrove township in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and want to fill in the gaps around the newly-released 1940 census, you're in luck--head over to the Lower Pottsgrove Historical Society and check out the Wilson D. Puhl tax collection records, 1934-1942!

Comments: 0
6/13/12
Author: Michael Gubicza

 

The history of firefighting in Philadelphia began with an all volunteer fire company in 1736, The Union Fire Company, which was formed by Benjamin Franklin. Along with many other volunteer companies throughout the city these men fought the fires of Philadelphia for over 100 years. In 1870 the city passed an ordinance creating the professional fire department which still exists today.

Comments: 2
6/6/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

The 103rd Engineer Battalion of the Pennsylvania National Guard--nicknamed the "Dandy First"--is the oldest continuously-serving military unit in Pennsylvania, and one of fewer than ten organizations whose lineage goes back to before 1747 (as verified by the Center for Military History). Did you know that a museum dedicated to the lineage of this storied regiment is housed in the old armory building on the campus of Drexel University? I certainly had no idea until I was sent to survey their archival collection. I felt like I was the "Dandy First" person to visit!

Comments: 6
5/30/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

There was a group in the town of Lim'rick,

Who collected papers most historic.

We surveyed their archives,

They showed us a great time;

Their set of school records is my fav. pick!

Comments: 0
5/23/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

The 75th anniversary of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is on May 27, 2012, so it is fitting that this week's blog post is about the Pottstown Historical Society. Did you know that steel sections for the Golden Gate Bridge were fabricated in Pottstown? Pottstown's metal industry has a long and interesting history, and it is reflected in the archival collections at the Pottstown Historical Society.

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5/16/12
Author: Michael Gubicza

 

We were lucky enough to visit the Woodlands Cemetery in West Philadelphia this April and there may not be a more beautiful and tranquil place to be found in the city. Surrounded on all sides by hectic city life Woodlands is a haven that you don’t have to wait until your funeral to escape to. During their open hours you can take a stroll or a jog, walk your dog, ride your bike, or mosey around and search for your favorite noteworthy inhabitant's final resting place.

Topics: Genealogy
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5/9/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Here's a "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" challenge: Construct a chain of association from Pottsgrove Manor, the home of Pottstown founder John Potts, to actor Kevin Bacon, with six links or fewer. Go!

Topics: 18th century
Comments: 0
5/2/12
Author: Michael Gubicza

Drinking alcohol in Colonial America was a popular past time with just about everyone. The Colonists thought alcohol could cure the sick, aid in digestion, and strengthen the weak. In England water was often polluted and caused illness, so the British replaced water with beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages. The Colonists took their cue from the British and avoided fresh water, even though they did not have a problem with polluted water. They didn’t need much of an incentive to partake in the libations. Whether starting the day with a pick-me-up or ending it with a night cap, the Colonists knew how to party.

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4/26/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Happy Birthday, Mr. Audubon! Today is the 227th birthday of John James Audubon, the renowned artist, naturalist, and author best known for his breathtaking work Birds of America and for the wildlife protection society that took his name. We surveyed the archives at his first home in America, John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove.

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