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

Who was Henry Vanderslice? To learn more about the Berks County surveyor, sheriff, and Revolutionary War wagonmaster, you could read a published transcription of his 1777-1778 diary. Or you could head to the Historical Society of Trappe, Collegeville, Perkiomen Valley to view his recently discovered 1777-1780 diary!

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This blog post is a tribute to all the list-makers and note-takers, the compulsive diarists and scrapbookers, the newspaper-clippers and document-abstracters whose profligate personal papers fill the shelves of historical societies everywhere. This is a tribute to Edwin C. Jellett. Among his papers at the Germantown Historical Society is the following 1893 document: "How I kept House on $2.37 per week, or an experience of 68 days at experimental Housekeeping, by Edwin C. Jellett."


Our survey rate varies somewhat depending on the archives, but the Swedish Museum took a lot longer than most. Not that we minded -- the Swedish Museum is a great place to spend a day, or three! But it taught us a few lessons about what factors lead to a slower rate of surveying. As it turns out, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing...

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If you read my blog post about Old York Road Historical Society, you already know that the "small" in "Small Repositories Project" is somewhat variable. The Historical Society of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania is even bigger than Old York Road! Usually in these blog posts I focus on one particular collection or story, but there are so many extraordinary collections at MontCo, I was loath to choose just one. Here is a small sampling of a few of my favorites:


Bridesburg is a small neighborhood in northeastern Philadelphia, but it's a well-documented one thanks to the prolific efforts of photographer William H. Sliker and his son Charles. In the first decades of the 20th century, the Slikers traveled on a regular circuit through northeast Philadelphia. They advertised their services to local residents, who rushed to have their pictures taken while the photographers were in town. Then, the Slikers brought the negatives home to their Bridesburg studio to be developed.


It didn't take us long, working on the "Small Repository Project," to realize that there are small repositories and there are small repositories. The Old York Road Historical Society, comparatively speaking, is not such a small repository. On one hand, they do fit our profile for a small repository: no full-time, professionally-trained archivist on-staff; annual operating budget under our cut-off; primary purpose dedicated to history.

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Housekeeper. Society wife. Globe-trotting collector of museum artifacts. Meet Mary Ann [Reed] Ryerss [Brawn], who was instrumental in the founding of the Ryerss Museum and Library in Northeast Philadelphia.

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Grab your wickets and stumps, and put on your kit! Today we're talking about the Philadelphia Cricket Club records at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society. Did you know that Philadelphia used to be the cricket capital of America?


As a student of library science with a love of history, it would have been surprising if I didn't fall in love with the Union Library of Hatboro. Of course I did. Formed in 1755, this Montgomery County institution lays its claim as the second oldest library in the state, and 12th oldest in the country.


The Sesquicentennial International Exposition, held in Philadelphia in 1926, is widely considered to be a monumental flop. Hoping to recreate the success of the Centennial Exposition of 1876, funders pumped a veritable fortune into building a temporary city on what is now Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park. For goodness’ sake, the first bridge between Philadelphia and New Jersey (today known as the Benjamin Franklin Bridge) was built in greedy anticipation of hordes of paying customers. But the hordes didn’t come, and, embarrassingly, the Sesquicentennial Exhibition Association was placed in equity receivership in 1927 for its inability to pay off its debts.

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