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.

 

 

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.

Comments: 0
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.

Comments: 0
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.
Comments: 0
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.

Comments: 2
11/22/13
Author: Faith Charlton

"Welkinweir," an old English word that translates to "where sky meets water," is the name of an old farm estate in East Nantmeal Township, Chester County, Pa. that was purchased and completely transformed by the property's last owners, Everett and Grace Rodebaugh.

Comments: 1
11/19/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen
1850 was a big year for Media. The town was incorporated as a borough, became the county seat for Delaware County (Pa.), and outlawed liquor.

Comments: 0
11/15/13
Author: Faith Charlton

This past Friday, HCI-PSAR staff, including me, Celia, and project director Jack McCarthy, held a session about our project at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference that was held here in Philadelphia. We were among many HSP staff who presented at the conference.

Comments: 0
11/12/13
Author: Jack McCarthy

The Clef Club was the city’s preeminent African American musical institution from 1935 to 1971, a time period that coincided with the golden age of Philly jazz. With such illustrious members as Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Benny Golson, the Heath Brothers, Jimmy Smith, Grover Washington, and others, the Clef Club’s archives are an invaluable historical resource documenting Philadelphia’s world-famous jazz tradition.

Comments: 0
11/4/13
Author: Faith Charlton

It's not every day that archivists get to work in a uniquely-designed home with an interior covered in multiple types of artwork from floor to ceiling. It is the case, though, if you're working at the Wharton Esherick Museum--one of the coolest places I've ever visited! (I'm so glad that the museum decided to participate in our project!)

Comments: 0
10/30/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Once or twice, upon forgetting to do homework in grade school, I considered telling my teacher that I conscientiously objected to the assignment. It sounds a lot better than "The dog ate my homework." But if I was a student at Westtown School, with its storied Quaker heritage, and my teacher actually had been a Conscientious Objector during World War II, I would definitely stick with the "dog ate it" excuse.

Comments: 0