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.

 

 

3/31/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

The first African American Presbyterian congregation in the United States, appropriately named First African Presbyterian Church, was founded right here in Philadelphia over 200 years ago. A roster of figures notable in Presbyterianism and the African American community in Philadelphia served in the church's ministry, beginning with John Gloucester (1776-1822), a former slave who established the congregation. Since 1910, the John Gloucester Memorial and Historical Society has been dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of Gloucester and of First African Presbyterian Church.

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3/26/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen
Anthony Wayne was one of the most important Generals of the Revolutionary War, and also played a crucial role in the Northwest Indian War (1785–1796). At his ancestral home, Historic Waynesborough, visitors can learn about life of Anthony Wayne and his family, and also peruse some of the documents that tell their story.

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3/19/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Wheat, Rye, Corn, Mix, Oats, or Corn Cobs? I know those options sounds delicious, but no, I'm not asking what you want for lunch. At a grist mill in the late 19th and early 20th centuries this would have been a familiar question. There used to be scores of mills, including about 20 grist mills, lining the banks of the Wissahickon Creek. Today, the Evans-Mumbower Mill is one of only a few that remain.

Topics: Industry
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3/12/14
Author: Sarah Leu

Like several of today’s suburbs outside of Philadelphia, Wallace Township (Chester County) used to be home to many farmsteads in the 18th and early 19th centuries. However, by the late 19th century, the railroad had made its way to these rural communities, bringing with it an influx of Philadelphians eager to establish summer residences away from the city. Among these Philadelphians were the Howsons.

Topics: Women
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3/5/14
Author: Sarah Leu

The area now known as Uwchlan Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania was once occupied by the Leni-Lenape (Delaware) and Iroquoian-speaking Susquehanuck peoples, and many of the footpaths they created are still in use today as roads that crisscross through the Township. Welsh Quakers were the main European group to settle in Uwchlan, requesting their own meeting in 1712.

Topics: Civil War
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2/25/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

For decades, Stinson Markley's land in Charlestown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania was used to cultivate fruits, vegetables, and even wild turkeys. The Markley farm is now owned by the Charlestown Historical Society, which is sown with carefully tended archival documents, the information contained therein ripe for reaping by historians and other researchers!

Topics: 20th century
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2/19/14
Author: Sarah Leu

The Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society has a variety of materials documenting the long and rich history of these two Main Line townships and their residents. The collections include subject files, maps, numerous photographs, family albums, manuscripts and other items helpful for research.

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2/12/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

"The father of gospel music," African American minister Charles A. Tindley (1851-1933) grew his Philadelphia church into one of the largest Methodist congregations in the United States in the 1920s. Tindley, the man and his church, are the topic of this week's blog post, continuing our Black History Month mini-series from last week. The Charles A. Tindley Institute (CATI), located at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church, is dedicated to telling the story of Tindley's life and legacy.

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2/5/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Tell all your friends! February is Black History Month, and one of the best places to study Black history in this city is at the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP). One of the largest and most robust archival repositories we have visited thus far, AAMP's collections document African Americans active in the arts, medicine, politics, sports, and many other arenas. In this blog I will highlight just a few of my favorite AAMP collections.

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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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