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.

 

 

8/22/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Before James H. Hirokawa bought his home in Montgomery Township, Pa., the seller checked with all the neighbors if they were willing to live near a Japanese man. The year was 1945, and Hirokawa had just been released from an internment camp.

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8/15/12
Author: Andree Mey Miller

"When balmy summer breezes blow, and music fills the air . . ." these lines from the song, "My Willow Grove Sweetheart", conjure up thoughts of summertime fun and the endless amusements to be found at Willow Grove Park, an area amusement park well documented in the collections of the Upper Moreland Historical Association. 

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8/8/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Guest blogger Ashley Harper writes about Bartram's Garden, the oldest surviving botanic garden in North America, and home of some amazing archival materials!

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8/1/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Imagine a private home bigger than the White House. Now imagine it outfitted with machine guns trained on proletariat-uprisers, and now trained on Nazi art thieves. Now imagine it transformed into laboratories... If you're having trouble picturing all that, visit the Springfield Township Historical Society to see their extensive collection on Whitemarsh Hall!

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7/25/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

A lot has changed in 225 years, but some things have stayed the same. When the squat building nestled in a corner of the St. James' Episcopal Church cemetery was built in 1788, it was a schoolhouse for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Today, it is still a space dedicated to teaching--but now, as the St. James' Community History Center, the focus is history.

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7/18/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Philadelphia Sketch Club, America's oldest continuously-operating club for artists, was founded in 1860. That means 150 years of accumulated art, artifacts, and archival materials!

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7/11/12
Author: Michael Gubicza

Before our visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary I was a little nervous about entering the imposing building. What would it be like locked inside? It turns out, quite pleasant. The folks there have done amazing work restoring the site, and their archives are quite unique.

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7/4/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Globe-trotting cultural ambassadors to South America. Documentary filmmakers. Founders of the Philamigos Institute of Learning in Philadelphia. Meet James A. Caulfield, artist and gay veteran of WWII, and his partner, Cuban-born linguist and University of Pennsylvania professor Dr. Rafael A. Suarez.

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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!

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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!

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