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.

 

 

1/29/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Last fall HCI-PSAR facilitated a pilot internship program that paired emerging archivists in need of hands-on experience with small repositories in need of processing assistance and large repositories willing to train and supervise the intern. We matched intern Tracy Ulmer with the Chestnut Hill Historical Society and Drexel University College of Medicine Archives & Special Collections. Tracy reflected on the Jessie Laird Brodie, M.D. papers, the Philadelphia Canoe Club records, and her other experiences in the blog below.

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1/23/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Last fall HCI-PSAR facilitated a pilot internship program that paired emerging archivists in need of hands-on experience with small repositories in need of processing assistance and large repositories willing to train and supervise the intern. One of our interns, Sarah Leu, has just written a blog post about her experience! We matched Sarah with the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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1/15/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Before embarking on the HCI-PSAR project, I had no idea how many signficant world explorers called the Philadelphia area home. On a recent visit to the Sharon Hill Historical Society (Delaware County, Pa.), I learned about Arctic explorer George W. Melville (1841-1912). He joins the ranks of William Edgar Geil, the Doylestown native who walked the entire length of the Great Wall of China and visited parts of Africa and Oceania around the turn of the 19th century. Melville was also a naval engineer, like John Ericsson, whose papers we surveyed at the American Swedish Historical Museum.

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1/9/14
Author: Sarah Leu

Raise your hand if you knew that Delaware County is home to eastern Pennsylvania’s own version of Colonial Williamsburg! Nestled on 112 acres of Ridley Creek State Park in Edgmont, PA is the beautiful Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation. In the early 1970s, a local historical society established the beginnings of what would become Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, formerly known as Bishop’s Mill Historical Institute, with the goal of showing visitors what life was like for an everyday person living and working at a farm or mill in the colonial period.

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1/2/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Newlin Grist Mill is the only historic site I know of where you can learn about history and do your grocery shopping all at once. The gift shop sells cornmeal ground on the site's 300 year old, still operational mill! 

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12/26/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

We hope everyone is enjoying a pleasant holiday season and we wish you all a happy new year!

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12/19/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Over the course of more than two years on the HCI-PSAR project, we have discovered many large and interesting collections of school-related materials. Between attendance registers, student workbooks, teachers' papers, and school board records, schools are among the most documented subjects in small repositories' collections. The Israel R. Berry family papers at West Caln Township Historical Commission (Chester County, Pa.), however, present a unique perspective into school administration. Berry was involved with the West Caln Township school board for several decades, from 1900 until around 1940, and his papers provide an intimate glimpse into the workings of a rural school system.

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12/11/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Edward Clyde Eichholtz (1875-1963) was an early photographer in Upper Darby, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Although an amateur, his technique was advanced for the time period. "Dutch" Eichholtz built his own enlarger, experimented with water color tinting, and was a member of Temple Camera Club--pictured here reminding themselves that "Walking is Good!" after missing the train home from a photography excursion.

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12/4/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen
The riverfront location of Tinicum Township--along the Delaware River in Delaware County, Pennsylvania--has had a powerful influence on its history. Shipbuilding became one of its major industries in the 20th century, but before that, it was the site of another industry perhaps not as readily associated with waterfronts: sickness.
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11/27/13
Author: Faith Charlton

Many artists often seek bucolic and natural landscapes for inspiration. For this reason, the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)-- whose main campus is located in the center of Philadelphia-- decided to open a rural campus at Yellow Springs out in Chester Springs, Chester County, Pa. The Academy, which inhabited the village from 1916 to 1952, was one of many organizations that occupied Yellow Springs throughout the village's storied history that spans 300 years.

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