Fondly, Pennsylvania is HSP's main blog. Here you will find posts on our latest projects and newest discoveries, as well articles on interesting bits of local history reflected in our collection. Whether you are doing research or just curious to know more about the behind-the-scenes work that goes on at HSP, please read, explore, and join the conversation!
As we continue to develop plans for the William Still Digital History Project, I couldn't help but notice that this week marks the 175th anniversary of a watershed moment in Philadelphia's antislavery movement: the dedication and subsequent destruction of Pennsylvania Hall.
If you're not familiar with the story, a group of local abolitionists in the 1830s had decided to build their own gathering place after struggling to find meeting places willing to host them. After much hard work, Pennsylvania Hall opened on May 14, 1838 at 6th Street near Race Street. Former president John Quincy Adams wrote for the dedication ceremony, “the Pennsylvania Hall Association have erected a large building . . . wherein liberty and equality of civil rights can be freely discussed, and the evils of slavery fearlessly portrayed.”
Alas, not everyone in the city agreed with this plan. A mob gathered soon after the hall opened, and after several days of unrest, the hall was burned to the ground.
Fortunately, the fire did not destroy antislavery sentiment in the city. In fact, scholars now point to the destruction of Pennsylvania Hall as a turning point, when the unpopular abolitionists began to garner new sympathies among the general public.
Which brings me back to our project.
By the time William Still began his "Journal C," in December 1852, only fourteen years had passed since the burning of Pennsylvania Hall. Philadelphians were far from unified in opposition to slavery, and Still put himself at great personal risk by keeping a written record of the fugitive slaves helped by Philadelphia's Vigilance Committee.
That's quite a legacy to try to honor with this digital project. As you may recall, we're working to create a new web resource that will weave together Still's "Journal C" and the book he published some twenty years later, The Underground Rail Road.
An illustration from Still's The Underground Rail Road. The caption reads, "Twenty-eight fugitives escaping from the Eastern Shore of Maryland."
As with our earlier digital history project, "Closed for Business," we'll be using XML text encoding, digital facsimiles of the documents, and additional annotation and contextual materials to help illuminate these important primary source materials. This time, we’ll also be testing out new mapping components to further explore the movements and network connections of the people profiled in Still's works.
Our first task, well before diving into the technical details of the project, has been to think about the stories captured within Still's writings. What do we want web users to take away from their interactions with these important documents? What theme or themes can we extract from his writings to help modern audiences better understand this difficult subject matter?
Based on feedback from our advisory committee, we decided to focus this initial prototype on the experiences of families escaping to freedom. This interpretive theme also supports Still’s original intent: that his records would help to reconnect families separated by the terrible institution of slavery.
Our contract researcher Peter Hinks helped us select three families profiled in Still’s works – the Shepherds, the Taylors, and the Wanzers – and we'll rely on their stories to explore a diverse range of fugitive experiences.
Longer term, we hope that the William Still Digital History Project will also help shed new light on the many people in Philadelphia and the surrounding region who helped to feed, house, clothe, and move fugitives through the area. We know from Still’s writings that these helpers included many average people, especially free blacks within Philadelphia and surrounding towns, but we look forward to finding new insights into this large network of support.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Since the conservation team started the Bank of North America project at the end of November, the most noticeable change or difference would be the empty shelves in the vault where the collections have been placed. But this is just the first step,as the photos below will show.
As we have been moving the collection to the stacks on the 4th floor, we have photographed each volume to document its original condition and features before we apply any conservation treatment. Among the photographed volumes, we have started rebinding those books that are most deteriorated. So far we have used two binding structures: Split Board Binding with inside cloth hinge to reattach the original boards and Bradel Binding to recase books with missing covers.
In this post, I would like to share how we have rebound and reattached the original boards using newly created inside cloth hinges. This cloth hinge is attached to the new endsheets of the text block and the other edge is pasted down under partially lifted cover material. This technique is considered to be suitable for books bound in leather and with tight joint or hollow-back structures and is a less invasive method than many others.
After cleaning and mending pages and guarding each section, the new endsheets are created with the cloth flaps attached. This cloth flap is going to be the hinge that will attach the text block to the original covers.
The text block is being sewn on the cotton tapes.
The sewn text block is being rounded and lined with layers of paper.
Layers of cotton flaps will become hinges as well.
To create the new spine, a new paper hollow tube is attached to the lined spine.
The outer cloth hinges are being pasted down under the lifted leather.
The sewing tapes are pasted down under the lifted cover material inside of the cover.
New spine and original covers
The original covers are reattached to the rebound text block.
The new spine is being covered with book cloth
The new spine is being covered with book cloth (detail view).
The head and tail of the spine are being turned in to cover up the whole spine.
The inner cotton hinge is being pasted down under the original cover material of the inside of the cover.
Below is another example of split board (inside cloth hinge) binding. This volume has a missing front cover, so a new front cover was created and reattached to the text block with the original back cover.
The new front cover (left) and original cover (right) are ready to be attached.
The new board for the front cover is being attached to the text block.
The new spine and the new front cover board are all covered with a large piece of book cloth.
Welcome back to our regular followers and greetings to new ones! This week, we have here a few more of transcripts from the George F. Parry Civil War diaries (George F. Parry family volumes, Collection 3694). If you're just joining us, several months ago, HSP acquired the diaries of Bucks County resident and Civil War veterinary surgeon George F. Parry. In that collection are three diaries he kept during the Civil War, 1863-1865, when he served with the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry. In celebration of Parry's work and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I'm providing monthly posts on Fondly, PA of transcripts of entries from his diaries.
To see other posts in the series, check out the links over on the right-hand side of this page. Clicking on the diary images will take you to our Digital Library where you can examine the volumes page by page, along with other digitized items from the Parry collection.
There must have been something in the springtime air as George Parry was quite the social butterfly in April 1863. The leaves of his journal from this time are full of people and dates and places. Parry's detailed entries allow for further glimpses into the man he was before the war. And this time round, we have some notes about current events, namely the hanging of Charles Lewis in Trenton (April 3) and National Fast Day (April 30), which had been proclaimed by President Lincoln in March 1863.
Notes about the transcriptions: I've kept the pattern of Parry's writings as close as formatting here will allow, including his line breaks and spacing. My own additional or clarifying notes will be in brackets [ ]. Any grammatical hiccups that aren’t noted as such are Parry's own.
Thursday, April 2
Party at Hendricksons near Trenton
Edward (Leedovas?) [illegible]
Wm. Linton's Paid him $60.00
Geo G. Worstal[,] Sam Hutchinson
And I took three girls to a party
Over on [N. P.] near Trenton got
home at five o'clock – [illegible]
a horse for Lewis C. Roberts
Miss Taylor[,] Joseph Thompson and
Will Tomlinson very fine time
Friday, April 3
J. Ely paid me $20.00
Lewis Roberts and I went to
Trenton to see Chas. Lewis hung
who was hung at 12.15 o'clock
took dinner at Amos Clayton
took Louisa and Miss Emma
James to State Prison
Sunday, April 12
John Tomlinson morning
Geo. C, Blackfan, Bonsall
Robert Y. Linton
John Ely Place
Eve. whent out to Esq. [illegible]
to attend Eliza Brown's wedding
quite a number their – the wedding
party did not come[,] her man
sent word he was sick
report said he was Drunk
Home at ten
Saturday, April 18
[Job?] Trenton + Chas. Kneel
who paid me $8.00
Bonsall came up from Town
Tom Panny rolling Bagatell
At Grooms – Tom stuck at
Paxsons Store very nice time
wine and figs + cakes – 10 o'clo[ck]
Barnsley and Jack Panny came
wine + figs – 11 o'clock whent down
to Peter Smiths – rolled two game
of Bag. – I stuck once – very long
time – letter from [illegible]
Thursday, April 23
Smith straddling Horse Back
Chas. Bonsall + Dark a
Ranging the Black Mare
drove her to wagon
Tuesday, April 30
To Day was set apart by the
President for fasting and prayer
wrote a letter to Benj. Hough
Sam. Suttons + Wm. Maddock
Horse back very rainy got
very wet Eveing at Grooms
Roses + Taylors some company
their Joseph Potts and some
The project conservation team has been busy photographing each of the hundreds of volumes in the Bank of North America collection. In the process we have created a sizeable collection of decorated papers present in these volumes, either as endsheets or exterior covering. Most of these were created using a process known as marbling, although some books contain paste papers as well.
Forms of marbling have been documented in China, Japan and the Middle East prior to the 12th century. Japanese Suminagashi involves the use of sumi inks and it is still a popular paper marbling style. The Turkish Ebru style was first introduced to France, Italy and Germany and craftsmen continued to introduce a wide range of materials and techniques. A Western marbled paper was created by floating a sizing such as carageenan on the surface of a water bath, followed by pigments in the desired sequence and a surfactant such as ox gall. This layer could be manipulated with a variety of tools and motions as well as added chemicals. An alum treated paper was laid on top and gently pulled away to create an impression.
Marbled paper styles may be roughly classified by technique although the variety of the practice ensures dispute. To identify these I relied mostly on the nomenclature established by Richard J. Wolfe in Marbled paper: Its history, techniques, and patterns. With special reference to the relationship of marbling to bookbinding in Europe and the Western world . Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990.
Below is an example of the Nonpareil pattern ("unparalleled" in French), formed with the use of an evenly spaced comb dragged through the pigment layer.
The Shell pattern below was created by mixing the last color to be added to the bath with oil, producinng the characteristic dark centered and white outlined color spots.
This Schrottel pattern's pebbly look was achieved by the addition of an oil and ox gall mixture to a Turkish color base.
The Italian pattern is meant to resemble actual marble stone and the thin veins of color between wide open spaces are created by adding a disperant to the bath after the initial colors. This may have been a combination of soap, spirits and ox gall. In addition, the bath was physically manipulated to create the gradated waves characteristic of the Spanish style, an innovation that may or may not have originated with the shaky hands of a marbling craftsman nursing a hangover.
The Spanish moiré pattern is a variation that involved folding the paper diagonally first before laying it on the bath and rocking it with repeated motions. This particular paper was possibly double printed, with a gold vein pattern followed by the final Spanish moiré.
The open white lacing of the Stormont pattern below was achieved with the final addition of turpentine or some other dispersant to the bath.
Marbling on printed text occured occasionally as the craftsman reached for whatever paper was available and several volumes in the Bank of North America collection sport such endsheets. This one is a portion of the biography of De Witt Clinton, 1769-1828, the New York politician known as "the father of the Erie Canal".
HSP holds a copy of this 1829 publication: Memoir of De Witt Clinton: with an appendix, containing numerous documents, illustrative of the principal events of his life by David Hosack
More images of the marbled and paste papers of the Bank of North America collection can be seen in this set on the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's flickr page.
Drum roll, please . . . the Greenfield Digital Project has made its official debut! Please take a minute to check it out:
Closed for Business: The Story of Bankers Trust Company during the Great Depression
As you may recall, we've spent the last two and a half years developing a new web resource to tell the story of the 1930 failure of Bankers Trust Company, the first large bank to fail in Philadelphia during the Great Depression. The new web site includes:
* 320 primary source documents, including documents about the bank's operation, letters from depositors desperate to get access to their funds after the bank's failure, and newspaper clippings about the aftermath of the bank's failure;
* biographies of some of the people and organizations highlighted in the documents;
* an educators page with ideas about how to use the resource in the classroom.
A screen grab from "Closed for Business." Check it out at hsp.org/bankers-trust.
Thanks to all of our text encoding work, users can search and access the primary source documents, biographies, and other annotation in multiple ways. For instance, users can view the full list of documents in chronological order, search documents by keyword or date, or filter documents by genre (i.e. whether a document is correspondence or a newspaper clipping), creator name or recipient name.
Each primary source document includes a facsimile of the original (on the left), alongside a transcription of the text (on the right).
Clicking on the document facsimile opens up a viewer that allows users to zoom in further on the image.
Users can also click on linked text within the transcriptions to learn more about people and organizations mentioned in the documents, as well as see what other documents mention those entities. So for instance, you can quickly see which documents mention Moses Annenberg, the owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1936 to 1942, by clicking through to his biography page (the documents are all listed at the bottom). Some documents also include footnotes, which provide more historical context for readers.
I hope you'll take a few minutes to explore the new site, which was part of a larger effort funded by the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation to draw attention to HSP's 20th-century collections.
And I hope you'll continue to follow our progress as we turn our attention to HSP's newest digital history effort: the William Still Digital History Project.
Hello readers! Thanks for returning for another round of transcripts from the George F. Parry Civil War diaries (George F. Parry family volumes, Collection 3694). Here's a quick recap of this project. HSP recently acquired the diaries of Bucks County resident and Civil War veterinary surgeon George F. Parry. In that collection are three diaries he kept during the Civil War, 1863-1865, when he served with the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry. In celebration of Parry's work and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I'm providing monthly posts on Fondly, PA of a few transcripts from his diaries.
To see other posts in the series, check out the links over on the right-hand side of this page. Clicking on the diary images will take you to our Digital Library where you can exmaine the volumes page by page, along with other digitized items from the Parry collection.
In March 1863, we find Parry still enjoying the frequent company of friends. However, this time we get a small mix of the personal and the professional in his entries. But make no mistake; Parry was certainly something of a social butterfly! Read on to find out just what he was doing and who he was seeing.
Notes about the transcriptions: I've kept the pattern of Parry's writings as close as formatting here will allow, including his line breaks and spacing. My own additional or clarifying notes will be in brackets . Any grammatical hiccups that aren’t noted as such are Parry's own.
Monday, March 2
Sale at Amos Clayton's
called on by W. Connard
spent the evening at|
Kinsey Tomlinson, Miss Taylor
Thompson Rose, Ned Hutchinson
Geo. C. Worstal
Sunday, March 8
Joseph Hammer [Sowell?]
Mare – died, congestion lungs
sick 18 hours ---
Quaker meeting [illegible] spoke
afternoon conference meeting
Eve. Took Julia V. Taylor
And Lizzie Barnsley up to
Silas Cary's - met some friends
Barnsley V. Janney
very hard Thunder Storms
Saturday, March 14
J. S. Bule Jr.
got Dyed up
spent Eve. at Taylor's at
the Contraband meeting[,] had
very good time[.] went home with
Mary Bickman and got some
Friday, March 27
C. R. Scarborough
Hourse sale at the Buck|
by Silas Atkinson – Lewis
Roberts took me down – he
bought a pair of mules
I'm excited to report that HSP has begun work on a new digital history project that will focus on the Underground Railroad.
Over the next year or so, my colleague Rachel Moloshok and I will be creating a prototype for a new web resource that will weave together the 19th-century manuscript journal and published book of William Still, who is known as the "Father of the Underground Railroad."
This effort will provide extraordinary insight into the experiences of enslaved individuals and families who passed through Philadelphia between 1852 and 1857 and the covert networks that aided their escape.
Philadelphia was an essential hub of anti-slavery activity, and Still served as chairman of Philadelphia’s Vigilance Committee. Still's "Journal C"— held in trust by HSP on behalf of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society papers—records the personal accounts of fugitives who arrived in the city and provides rich content for discussion about slavery and escape. Twenty years after he began work for the Vigilance Committee, Still published The Underground Rail Road (1872), the most extensive contemporary compendium of the Underground Railroad's workings in this region.
Portrait of William Still from his 1872 book, The Underground Rail Road (call # E 441 A58 v. 125)
Pages from Still's "Journal C"
We're currently knee deep in the planning for this first prototype. We plan to present digital images and text transcriptions for both Still volumes, with the transcriptions encoded in XML to match the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines and allow for sophisticated searching and analysis. (Thanks to an earlier HSP effort, you can see images and text transcriptions of Journal C here.) We'll also be researching and writing biographies of some of the men and women featured in Still's works, as well as creating other contextual materials to help users better understand the significance of these volumes.
In late February, we met with members of our advisory committee of scholars, educators, genealogists, and public history professionals to discuss interpretive options and brainstorm possible web features. In the weeks and months ahead, we'll be getting feedback from our target audiences and testing out web site features to see what works best.
You can follow our progress on this blog, or on our project page, here.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
I’ve written about the conservation of archival materials related to printmaking history in the past for this blog and I am excited to share a grouping of printing plates from the Bank of North America collection.
This image shows the copper printing plate, wrong-reading at top, and below, flipped horizontally to show how it would appear printed.
In addition to the nearly 700 volumes in the collection, there are boxes of archival materials. Among these materials, were two boxes labeled “Engraved Plates.”
Nineteen printing plates of various sizes and condition were stacked upright in old non-archival document boxes with removable lid at top. Many, but not all, of the plates were wrapped in paper and marked with identifying information.
There are three categories of plates in these boxes– portraits of Presidents of the Bank of North America, bank letterhead plates, and Bank Notes and Currency Plates.
There are eight portrait plates of the Presidents from the inception of the bank in 1791 (Robert Morris) through 1860. Prints from these plates can be found throughout the extra-illustrated version of the History of the Bank of North America (here is a sneak peak of these exquisite volumes – expect a full blog post in the coming months).
The treatment plan for these plates was to create customized housing for each plate and accompanying wrapper. Hinged sink mat inset trays were constructed of acid-free corrugated board with lifts for the plates. These boxes minimize handling of the archival materials and provide opportunity to better organize the plates.
Many, many more images of these plates are on our Flickr page - including stamps on the backside of the plates, extreme close-ups of engraved lines and more!
Erin DeFord is currently an intern in HSP's Digital Center for Americana (DCA). As part of her Digital Collections and Humanities Internship, Erin recently digitized The Mrs. Stacy B. Lloyd papers on the American Red Cross's Allied Prisoners of War Food Packing Service (Collection 3467). Read Erin's thoughts on the collection and check out more images in HSP's Digital Library:
During World War II, Philadelphia set the precedence in helping allied prisoners of war in Germany and Japan. Philadelphia was the home of the nation's first American Red Cross Allied Prisoner's of War Food Packing Plant, which was located on 30th and Allegheny Avenue.
Mrs. Stacy B. Lloyd, Eleanor, was a native of Ardmore, Pennsylvania and served the director of the plant from 1943 until the end of the war in 1945. In 1944, Mrs. Lloyd received the Gimbel Award for "America's outstanding woman" in recognition on her contributions to the war effort.
The Mrs. Stacy B. Lloyd papers on the American Red Cross's Allied Prisoners of War Food Packing Service (Collection 3467) contains letters and notes made by Mrs. Lloyd, notes received from prisoners of war, photographs, and newspaper clippings collected by Mrs. Lloyd.
What surprised me most when digitizing this collection is the organization and precision of the workers at the packing plant. For example: about 12,000 boxes were packed each day, the boxes weighed 11 pounds, and had 16 articles in them (positioned the same in each box). By August 1943 the millionth box had been sent out from Philadelphia.
The boxes contained powdered milk, prunes, canned corned beef, chocolate, biscuits, can of liver paste, Nescafe, tin of salmon, tins of orange concentrate, pressed ham, cheese, oleomargarine, sugar, soap, and cigarettes.
When they could, prisoners of war wrote to the women at the packing plant thanking them for their efforts and even gave some of their pay as a donation to the Red Cross.
Life for the prisoners varied depending on what prisoner of war camp they were at. Sadly, not much communication was allowed between the United States and camps located in the Pacific. However, here is an interesting picture of a play some prisoners of war enacted while held in Germany.
This was a great collection to do as my first digitization project because I got to work with a time period in which I was familiar, but with an organization that is so large and complex it would be difficult to not learn something new. Mrs. Stacy B. Lloyd played a pivotal role in the Red Cross and Philadelphia during World War II. Please browse the rest of her collection in HSP's Digital Library to discover the nature of prisoner of war camps in Germany and Japan during World War II.
Philadelphia is a city of firsts, including both the first brick house and pianoforte built in the United States, as well as the first published treatise against slavery. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that Philadelphia was also home to the first chartered, national bank. The Bank of North America was initially founded by the Second Continental Congress in 1781 to help fund the expensive Revolutionary War, which was badly in need of money and supplies. The BNA's records are on deposit at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and part of a massive conservation project which includes years of careful cleaning, mending, rebinding, and rehousing. These records span from 1723 through the 1920s and contain both what you'd expect from bank records (ledgers, cash books, day books, etc.) and a few surprises (wait until you see the poetry, the horse, and the hanged man, all coming in a later blog post).
The items in this collection came to HSP in 1939, deposited by the Pennsylvania Company, which at that point in time was the operating descendant of the Bank of North America. The collection has had varying levels of accessibility since then, with the condition of both the materials and the inventory limiting access for researchers. The first limiting factor is being addressed by the 3-year conservation project, which you can see photos of on HSP's revitalized Flickr page. (This page will be updated throughout the project so check back often or add it to your RSS reader.) As the project archivist, my job is to address the second factor that limited access -- the poor condition of the inventory -- by creating a new intellectual and physical arrangement so that researchers will have a better idea of what's in the collection.
Improving access by creating a new physical arrangement means that all of the unbound materials (loose documents and artwork) in the collection need to come out of their old housing and into new folders and boxes. This is especially important because those green boxes aren't just old and unfashionable, they're...problematic for everyone who wants to access this collection. (But they were probably the height of archival science in the 30s, so we'll give past archivists a pass on this one.)
If you're researching in this collection, then a few different scenarios could greet you when you open one of those green boxes. The best case scenario for you and the collection materials is shown above: materials that are (believe it or not) in labeled folders, more or less kept flat by the folders and the way they're stored in the box. But you can't read the folder titles without removing the folders from the box, and you can't do that without turning the box on its side and dumping (well, carefully sliding) everything out onto the table.
Your second best case scenario: sturdy, folded documents, not in folders, but not damaged either. The only way to get at these materials is by (again) dumping everything out and searching through a big pile of folded stuff that really doesn't want to be unfolded, one document at a time.
Here's your worst case scenario: unfoldered materials including very fragile newspaper, just rattling around in the box with no way to retrieve them without dumping everything out and pawing through it or shoving your hand in there and likely further damaging the materials. [Ok, actually I think a worst case scenario would involve organic materials, some bugs, and a humid storage environment, but thankfully this collection is free of most of those things.]
Underneath the crumbling newsprint was this:
It's a rolled mass of documents that can't, in their present state, be identified, dated, or read because a) the documents are too fragile to pry apart and b) they've been rolled for probably 70 years and would like to stay that way. But thanks to a little conservation lab magic, these documents have now been safely flattened and foldered and will soon be accessible for the first time.
The unbound portion of the collection is now comfortably resting in labeled, dated, acid free folders, inside acid-free document and photograph boxes. Each folder has a title and the contents are arranged in a way that will make it easier for researchers to find what they're looking for. As archival processing progresses, I'll be able to digitize a few items to show off on the blog and in our Digital Library, including Revolutionary War figures who banked at BNA, portraits of bank presidents, and of course the poetry, the horse, and the hanged man.