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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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10/25/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

There has been a lot of excitement around our office as we participated into two history community events this week, National History Day Philly 2014 kick-off and History in Pennsylvania Awards 2013.

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10/22/13
Author: Faith Charlton

Up until the end of the 20th century, Chester County, Pa. could have been referred to as the "land of iron and steel" due to the large number of metal-producing forges, mills, and factories that towered over the landscape.

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10/16/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Feeling a little under the weather lately? Stop eating ice cream cones! According to a 1920 letter by one Mary Stout Martin, they lead to sickness. This and many more healthy eating tips are preserved in the archives at Stenton.

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10/8/13
Author: Faith Charlton

According to local legend, Lewis Wernwag, owner of a Phoenixville nail works mill, named the mill Phoenix Iron Company because the fiery red hot iron reminded him of the Phoenix (the mythical bird that dies and then rises from its own ashes). Shortly thereafter, what was once the small village of Manavon in Chester County, Pa., began to be referred to as Phoenixville.

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