Recently, I was called down to the library to assist with a particular patron who had a question about a collection I had processed. During our conversation, he asked me about being an archivist at HSP. What fun it must be, he posited, to roam the stacks looking at various historic wonders of the greater Philadelphia area! I told him that it certainly was an interesting job, but that my days, alas, were not filled with treasure-hunting, but rather a seemingly never-ending variety of duties that, on any given day, may or may not involve finding fun historic stuff.
When William Penn established Philadelphia in 1682, he and his settlers no doubt sailed around several islands in the southern part of the Delaware River. Today a few islands still exist in this region, such as Petty's Island and Pea Patch Island, the site of Fort Delaware. But this expansive waterway between southern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey also once included several islands where the Delaware and Schuylkill River met – Mud Island, Little Mud Island, Hog Island, and League Island. Located just off League Island were once sandbars known as the Horseshoe Shoals.
Earlier this year, HSP received into its collections the Vauclain family papers and genealogical research files (Collection 3666). Philadelphia-born Samuel Matthews Vauclain Sr. (1856-1940) worked with Philadelphia's Baldwin Locomotive Works from the 1890s until his death. He presided as president of the organization from 1919 to 1929. Samuel Sr. and his wife Anne Kearney had several children, including Samuel Matthews Vauclain Jr., who later worked for Baldwin. Samuel Jr. married Mary Hilda Canan in 1906.