Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Celia Caust-Ellenbogen is Senior Project Surveyor on the Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. She began working at HSP in early 2011 under the auspices of the PACSCL-CLIR "Hidden Collections" project, and has been working on the HCI-PSAR project since September of 2011. She holds a BA in History and World Literatures from Swarthmore College, and an MLIS with a concentration in Archives, Preservation and Records Management from the University of Pittsburgh.

This Author's Posts

After nearly 3½ years working on the Small Repositories Project, the time has come for me to say good-bye. I'm more than a little sad to be leaving HCI-PSAR prematurely (Phase III will end April 2016), even though I'm delighted to be accepting a new position at the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College. It gives me some solace to reflect on my accomplishments as HCI-PSAR Senior Project Surveyor, so I hope you'll indulge me here.

In the past 3½ years, I personally have:

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In the three and a half years I've worked on the HCI-PSAR project, I've met hundreds of individuals at area small repositories who are passionate about preserving the archival collections under their care. I've been impressed at how proactive many of you have been in seeking opportunities to learn professional standards, but I've also noticed that you each bring a unique perspective and innovative ideas to the tasks at hand.


Hold onto your yarmulkes and brush up on your Hebrew! In this week's blog post, we'll delve deep into the archives of Mikveh Israel of Philadelphia, one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the United States. Its congregants have included many luminaries who were influential in religious and secular contexts, locally and often nationally. Of course, not all of Mikveh Israel's members are famous. Mikveh Israel's extensive archives also document the lives of ordinary Jews and the Jewish community in Philadelphia, covering more than 250 years. 


Darby Library Company was founded in 1743, a subscription library open to any paying subscriber (although not gratis to the public). The original twenty-nine subscribers authorized the purchase of forty-five volumes at a cost of 11 Pounds, 10 Shillings, Sterling. The list of titles - a few of which are visible in the image at the top of this post - reveals the values and aspirations of the subscribers.


Elwyn was one of the first American schools for children with intellectual disabilities, founded in 1852 as the Pennsylvania Training School for Idiotic and Feeble-Minded Children. Established in the midst of changing social and scientific trends in the understanding and treatment of intellectual disability, Elwyn has remained consistently at the vanguard of this field -- usually for the better, but occassionally with regrets -- for over 150 years.


The internet loves cute animals. Archivists do, too. So although there are many fabulous archival collections at the Philadelphia History Museum that I considered for the subject of this blog post, it seems almost inevitable that I settled on the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals collection.


This Thanksgiving we are grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, for funding the HCI-PSAR Project another 18 months through April 2016, to the over 130 small repositories who have been so hospitable in welcoming us into their archives over the past three years, and to everyone who is interested in our project and follows this blog. Happy Turkey Day, everyone!


Today, Veterans Day, we honor the individuals who have served in the Armed Forces. Pennsylvanians have contributed selflessly to many military conflicts over United States history, and time and again, my co-surveyors and I have come across their stories in small repositories' collections throughout the Philadelphia area.


National History Day (NHD) is a great program to help students in grades 6-12 practice research and critical thinking skills, elements important to their future in the workplace and school. For students and teachers particularly interested in local history, or who live far from HSP and want to find primary-source documents close to home, a small repository may be a good place to do research.


Love your local archives? Celebrate with us this month! The roster of happenings planned for the next few weeks include a quizzo night, a lantern slide salon, dynamic lectures, behind-the-scenes tours, and more events that will showcase the vibrant resources of Philadelphia's archives.