Matthew Lyons

This Author's Posts

Last week, Cary wrote here about the end of the PACSCL Hidden Collections Processing Project at HSP. While she was composing that post, two local news organs were covering one of the HSP collections that the PACSCL team processed.  The Harold E. Cox transportation collection caught reporters' attention because of an unusual stipulation from the donor.


If your archives has limited resources and lots of collections that need attention, how do you decide which ones to focus on? In the HSP Archives Department, one of the main tools we use is the HSP collection survey methodology, which has become a model for collection assessment work at dozens of institutions around the U.S. In this blog post I'd like to give an overview of our survey method -- how it works, how we use it, and where we're headed with it in the future.


What does it take to develop an active archival collecting program? How can we focus our acquisitions on the materials we really want to collect, rather than simply the ones people offer us?

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This month HSP begins a new 26-month project to process and conserve fourteen collections related to civic engagement in Philadelphia and beyond. Willhem Echevarría has already started work as project archivist, and in December he will be joined by Leah Mackin as project preservation technician. Previously, both Willhem and Leah worked on our Chew papers project and Digital Center for Americana pilot project, and we’re fortunate that they’ll be continuing on with this new initiative.


Recently the Historical Society of Pennsylvania acquired a small collection called the Pisano and Siciliano Families Papers. Through photographs, vital records, family histories, and other materials, this collection documents two Italian families whose members came to the United States in the early 1900s and settled in South Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. A highlight of the collection is the handwritten poetry of Antonio Nicola Pisano (1894-1979). Mr. Pisano, who immigrated to the U.S.


This past Friday I gave a presentation in Jersey City about HSP’s Adopt-a-Collection program, which allows people to donate money earmarked for processing and conserving a specific collection. My talk was part of a panel on “creative funding” for archives, at the fall meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC). There were three of us on the panel.

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Anyone who says that people don’t care about history should have been at HSP last Wednesday night (October 14). Over 150 people attended an evening program to celebrate the successful completion of our two-year Chew Family Papers Project. The discussion at this event was lively and at times contentious, centering on how HSP has dealt with the Chew family’s involvement in slavery.