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.

 

 

8/7/13
Author: Faith Charlton

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of Yardley (Bucks County, Pa.), an auxiliary of the WCTU of Pennsylvania, was founded in 1885. The group's stated objective, as outlined in its first minute book, was to "educate public sentiment up to the standard of total abstinence, train the young, save the inebriate, and secure the legal prohibition and complete banishment of the liquor traffic."

Topics: Women
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8/1/13
Author: Faith Charlton

William Edgar Geil (1865-1925) was an evangelical missionary and international explorer from Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania who was most likely the first individual--Chinese included-- to travel the entire Great Wall of China (in 1908).

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7/31/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Legend has it that the infamous pirate Blackbeard frequently visited Marcus Hook (Delaware County, Pennsylvania) to visit his mistress, Margaret. The Chichester Historical Society is dedicating to sharing and preserving the stories of Marcus Hook, the Borough of Trainer, and the townships of Upper and Lower Chichester.

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7/24/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Several generations of Seifert family ciphering books (school books) trace the history of the family as well as the history of educational practice. The collection, held at the Springfield Township Historical Society (Bucks County, Pa.), documents one of the oldest families in the area. 

Comments: 2
7/16/13
Author: Faith Charlton

As we've recounted before, not all of the small repositories that we survey for this project are necessarily "small." Most of the places we visit have, on average, about 7 to 10 archival collections. However, there have been a couple of outliers whose numbers far exceed the average, including the Delaware County Historical Society (located in Chester, Pa.), which has over 45 collections!

Comments: 1
7/9/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Chadds Ford in Delaware County, Pennsylvania is renowned as the home of the Brandywine School. The influential American illustrator Howard Pyle held art classes in the area around the turn of the 20th century, attracting an extensive list of important artists including Maxfield Parrish, Violet Oakley, and N.C. Wyeth.

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7/2/13
Author: Faith Charlton

Initially earning his living by farming and cattle droving, Newtown Square resident William T. Davis (1830-1916) decided to purchase the Newtown Square Inn in 1868.

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6/25/13
Author: Faith Charlton

Some of the historical societies/ historic sites that Celia and I have recently visited are located in fairly rural areas of Bucks and Delaware Counties. So, it's not surprising that we've come across several collections that relate to local general stores, which had played a significant role in the life of these small towns and villages.

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6/19/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

The Colonial Georgian structure of the Johnson House looks beautiful today, but imagine how good it must have looked in the early 19th century to enslaved African Americans on a harrowing trek northward. The Johnson House was a stop on the Underground Railroad for many Freedom Seekers passing through Philadelphia.

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6/12/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

The first store in Haycock (Bucks County, Pennsylvania), and the only store in the area for the latter half of the 19th century, was the Frankenfield Store. It was built in 1868 by Henry Frankenfield and carried on by family members including M. D. Frankenfield, Abel Frankenfield, John Bergstresser, E. A. Frankenfield, and A. H. Frankenfield. In 1872, M. D. Frankenfield began operating the Haycock Run Post Office from within the store. The post office and store shared the space for several decades until the store went out of business in the early 1900s.

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