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 Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.

 

 

4/3/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Did John Fitch start the transportation revolution in Warminster, Bucks County, Pennsylvania? The John Fitch Steamboat Museum argues that the answer to this question is a resounding "Yes!" After all, it was in Warminster in 1785 that Fitch invented the first American steam engine feasible for propelling a boat. Several years later, he ran the world's first commercial steamboat service in 1790, along the Delaware River between Philadelphia and Trenton. (Although, even free beer, rum, and sausages could not entice enough customers to keep the operation viable.)

Topics: 18th century
Comments: 5
3/26/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Mark your calendars! The second annual History Affiliates Awards Luncheon will be held on October 25, 2013 at the Union League of Philadelphia.

Comments: 0
3/20/13
Author: Faith Charlton

If one thing is clear about Perkasie Historical Society's archival collection it's that it is not lacking in materials relating to World War I and World War II. 

Comments: 1
3/15/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

The United States unemployment rate for February 2013 was 7.7%, which isn't great, but really isn't that bad. Especially when compared to unemployment rates during the Great Depression. When William E. Collier began working for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Employment Security in the 1930s, the national unemployment rate was upwards of 20%. His work with the Works Progress Administration, unemployment compensation, and labor unions--as well as his local history research and photographs of Bucks County--are meticulously documented in Collier's collection at the Historical Society of Hilltown Township.

Comments: 0
2/27/13
Author: Faith Charlton

Since it's Women's History Month, I thought I would highlight some of the collections relating to women's history that Celia and I have surveyed since beginning Phase II of the Small Repositories project.

Topics: Women
Comments: 0
2/27/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

When the New Hope Public Health Nursing Association was organized in 1920, it was the only public nursing group in that part of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The first nurse who was employed traveled her coverage area on a bicycle! The story of the organization, which dissolved in 1969, contains embedded narratives about changes in public health needs, the professionalization of the healthcare industry, women's roles, and many others subjects.

Comments: 0
2/19/13
Author: Faith Charlton

Kaiser-Fleetwings Corporation played a significant role in its production of aircraft and aircraft components during World War II. The Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK, a dive and torpedo bomber developed for the United States Navy starting in 1944 was its best-known product.

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2/13/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

In the twenty-first century, perhaps the only thing more anachronistic than an organization with a 15-word name is a vigilante group dedicated to stamping out horse thieves. In many ways, finding archival records from 1819 of "The Newtown Reliance Company for the Detecting and Apprehending of Horse Thieves and Other Villains" at the Newtown Historic Association was less surprising than learning that the group is still active in the year 2013.

Comments: 0
2/6/13
Author: Faith Charlton

While surveying the archival collections of small repositories, Celia and I often find some entertaining items that document the more flavorful aspects of everyday life in neighborhoods and towns. Our visit to the Roxborough-Manayunk-Wissahickon Historical Society was no exception.

Comments: 2
2/4/13
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Last Saturday (February 2nd, 2013), HSP's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories held a "Meet & Greet" and orientation to introduce Bucks County organizations to the project. It was held at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown.

Comments: 0