A large portion of the yet untouched Chew Family Papers are maps, which have been collecting dust in rolls for years and years. Although bagged and labeled, the rolled documents need to be individually evaluated for conservation purposes. Cathleen and I spent hours last week carefully unrolling and looking at a variety of documents: printed maps, hand-drawn maps, blueprints, advertisments... All are oversized (i.e. too large for the preferred storage location of flat files), as seen in the following photographic documentation:
Benjamin Chew III, like several of his family members, kept many notes that are difficult to decipher and categorize. It's hard to know where the two notes below fit into the rest of "Bad Ben's" papers or if they may be related in some way. They do share a tone of discontent. Benjamin III seems to have spent much of his time dissatisfied with one (if not many) issues. Often, his discontent was related to family matters, particularly the protracted arguments he had with his brothers and other family over the settlement of his father's estate.
I have been sorting through a box of William White Chew's papers that was labeled "Chew Family Papers--Not Processed." Indeed, they are in a total state of disarray. Here is the box before I started sorting (I started with the one on the right. I can't wait to get to the second box!):
This project has introduced me to many types of materials and aspects of history that I was previously unfamiliar with. It has also been teaching me a lot about balance and letting go of rigid ideas of perfection. Some days, it is easy to get lost in the enormity of the task that is processing a 400 linear foot collection. I panic about deadlines and not meeting all of my goals.
I started to work on this little green notebook. It must have been beautiful in its day. I think it is made from grass green vellum with a beautiful clasp and very nice paper. The dates on the entries range from 1760 - 1785.
A few weeks ago, we received a lovely surprise in the mail from the Abington Junior High School History Club. They sent us a letter (and a check!) notifying us that they had raised $165 to help fund the processing of the Chew Family Papers. Of course, we were all very touched by this gesture, so I sent them a letter thanking them and asking if they'd like to be featured on our blog.