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 the five-county Philadelphia area.

 

 

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
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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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4/18/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Who was Henry Vanderslice? To learn more about the Berks County surveyor, sheriff, and Revolutionary War wagonmaster, you could read a published transcription of his 1777-1778 diary. Or you could head to the Historical Society of Trappe, Collegeville, Perkiomen Valley to view his recently discovered 1777-1780 diary!

Comments: 2
4/11/12
Author: Michael Gubicza

The sport of rowing in Philadelphia has a long and venerable history. The gentlemen of our city would take to the water to compete for distinction and bragging rights. With the damming of the Schuylkill River, which was completed in 1821, the sport grew in size and structure in ways that these genteel men could not have imagined.

Comments: 0
4/4/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

This blog post is a tribute to all the list-makers and note-takers, the compulsive diarists and scrapbookers, the newspaper-clippers and document-abstracters whose profligate personal papers fill the shelves of historical societies everywhere. This is a tribute to Edwin C. Jellett. Among his papers at the Germantown Historical Society is the following 1893 document: "How I kept House on $2.37 per week, or an experience of 68 days at experimental Housekeeping, by Edwin C. Jellett."

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3/28/12
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Our survey rate varies somewhat depending on the archives, but the Swedish Museum took a lot longer than most. Not that we minded -- the Swedish Museum is a great place to spend a day, or three! But it taught us a few lessons about what factors lead to a slower rate of surveying. As it turns out, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing...

Topics: Ethnic history
Comments: 2