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

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.


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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Who wants to come with me on a trip to Europe? We'll go visit Paris, and Rome; it'll be fun! Oh, but before you pack your bags, I should probably mention this one tiny detail: We'll be going in 1877. Many nights and days will be passed on coal-powered trains, and it's going to get pretty bumpy... The, ahem, bathroom facilities might not be quite up to 21st-century health standards... I'll just come out and admit it: this is not going to be a glamorous trip.


Happy New Year! This beautiful card comes from the archival materials at the Historical Society of Whitpain. We have learned a lot about Normandy Farm recently, since it falls in the collecting area of both the Historical Society of Whitpain and the Wissahickon Valley Historical Society.


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.

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