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

I'm not particularly scared of Santa Claus (his freakish ability to withstand the heat inside a chimney notwithstanding). But if I had grown up in a Pennsylvania German community and heard stories about Belsnickel, I would probably be terrified. We managed to capture a rare candid photo of him while surveying the archival collections of the Goschenhoppen Historians, and you have to admit, he's a bit intimidating.

12/28/11
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What do you want for Christmas this year? Imagine if the president of your company agreed to pay off all of your debts--mortgages, hospital bills, everything--or give you $1,500 cash if you had none. Imagine if he didn't just do it for you, but agreed to pay the debts of everyone working at the company? Wouldn't that be a wonderful Christmas?

That is exactly what happened in Ambler, Pennsylvania in 1936.

12/22/11

Did you know that Ambler used to be the asbestos capital of the world? The appeal of that slogan doesn't really stand the test of time, but if it weren't for the industrial development that came with the Keasbey & Mattison asbestos factory, the borough of Ambler in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania wouldn't be what it is today.

12/16/11

When Hugo Fischer emigrated from Germany to Towamencin Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in the early 1900s, he bought a mill. At the time it seemed like a solid investment, but by the 1920s, the mill already wasn't doing as well as he had hoped. But then--opportunity! Fischer's mill was on a beautiful 14-acre property, and motorists began picnicking and asking for permission to camp in the scenic environs. Fischer recognized the lucrative possibilities, and started building facilities to entice more guests--for a fee, of course--a candy and ice cream pavilion, a boardwalk over the dam, cabanas, and a swimming pool. Before long, Fischer's Pool was a recreation destination!

12/12/11

More often than you'd think, we hear stories of valuable archival materials being rescued from trash heaps. For goodness' sake, it even happened with some of William Penn's papers--charged with the task of shredding Penn family documents in 1870, a "Mr. X" grew bored of his work and sold the lot for pulp to a paper mill instead. From there, luckily, the papers found their way to an auction house, and many of those same documents are now safely housed at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.* Yet another reason to thank savvy trash-pickers is the Sheaff journals at the Highlands Historical Society.

12/1/11

Have you seen the movie "The Prize-Winner of Defiance Ohio" ? It's a really fantastic film, based on a memoir by Terry "Tuff" Ryan about how her mother helped support a family of 12 by winning jingle-writing contests. (Check out the trailer here.) I couldn't stop thinking about it the whole time I was surveying the archival holdings of the Worcester Historical Society, because of the "Christine Shearer and Irma Schultz Scrapbooks" collection. Christine Shearer of Worcester, PA was quite as avid a contest-winner as Evelyn Ryan of Defiance, Ohio. And Christine Shearer made scrapbooks about it!

11/22/11

Want to learn about the history of education? Or how to teach people about history? Or how to run an effective community-based educational project? Go to the Lower Merion Historical Society, son, and get yourself schooled.

11/16/11

I admit it. I have a soft spot for scrapbooks. Sure, they are completely subjective, and they can be corny and sentimental--in fact, that's kind of the point. And sure, from a conservation perspective, they are a nightmare--"inherent vice," in archival jargon. But you can learn a lot from a scrapbook.

11/10/11

Samuel W. Pennypacker was meticulous. That's not altogether surprising, since the man was both Governor of Pennsylvania (1903-1907) and president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. But when we surveyed his papers at Pennypacker Mills, now a house museum operated by the Montgomery Country Department of Parks and Heritage Services, we were nonetheless in awe.

11/3/11

Antique silver. Sumptuous furniture. Priceless works by famous artists including Violet Oakley. Y'know, just another day in the archives.

10/27/11