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Fondly, Pennsylvania

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!

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From a distance...Montana that is!

This internship fell into my lap just when I thought I was not going to find anything to fulfill the fieldwork requirement for my Master of Library & Information Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I live in the great state of Montana, which is large in area but NOT in population or infrastructure. Major towns - of which there are probably only four - are 100+ miles apart. Trying to complete 150 hours of fieldwork is not realistic because the distances are so great. I live in Great Falls, and while it may be a town of over 60,000, there really is a lack of archival institutions in which to complete any meaningful project.

Distance is only half of the issue as well. Montana is an "outdoor" state, meaning most people come to Montana to recreate and live in the natural world. High tech infrastructure in archival repositories is minimal at best. There really is no archival institution that can offer remote access to collections or has the staff resources to oversee a student remotely. Alas my need for a virtual internship outside of Montana.

The project I have been working on with another student since September is describing the Edith Madeira collection. The collection is made up of mostly a scrapbook of images from World War I and transcripts of letters that Edith wrote to friends and family members during her time as a field nurse for the Red Cross Commission to Palestine. First, we began by describing the many photographs and other pieces of ephemera in Edith's scrapbook. I found this slow-going at first because I didn't know if I was saying too much or not enough about each image. Also, attaching accurate subject headings was tricky because the obvious subject heading may not have been in the Library of Congress subject headings or you really had to be creative with pulling out obscure subject matter.

Once the images were complete we moved on to the transcripts of Edith letters. I enjoy reading Edith's letters and seeing how language and culture have changed since 1918. I also find it fascinating to read about World War I through Edith's own words. There was still such a formality about the world and how people interacted - even during wartime. I felt more comfortable describing the letters than I did the images. The challenge though was not to rewrite the letter in the description field but still hit the pertinent points of the letter so that enough detail was given for users who may be looking for information about this time period or subject matter. Subject headings were far easier to find, though in a 14-page letter they could be numerous.

I feel as though I have only just begun to develop my skills for description by working on this collection. The most significant drawback to working remotely is that you can't just run to the shelf to look at an image or object to get a better understanding of just what it is. But all in all, I have had an extremely positive experience and Matt Shoemaker has been delightful to work with. I truly appreciate this opportunity and I am happy that I have contributed to the preservation of this charming collection...from Montana that is!

Remembering Louisa May Alcott

This November marks the 180th birthday of popular novelist Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), author of such works as Flower Fables (1854), Hospital Sketches (1863), and Little Women (1868).  Most people associate Alcott with her life and work in Massachusetts, but did you know she had a Philadelphia connection?

Louisa was born in Germantown on November 29, 1832 at 5425 Germantown Avenue.  Her parents were from Massachusetts, Amos Bronson Alcott was an educator and Abigail May was a social worker. The couple moved to Philadelphia at some point after they were married in 1830. Amos was called to teach in Germantown with the help of Reuben Haines, then owner of the Wyck House.  Amos served as the head of a school on Eighth Street near Locust Street; and he later ran a school in Germantown.  Accounts vary as to when exactly the family moved back to Massachusetts; but once they did move, they lived in Concord and a short-lived experimental communal village known as Fruitlands before moving to Boston.  Amos continued his work in local schools and became friends with the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Amos and Abigail successfully raised a family for four daughters: Anna (born 1831), Louisa, Elizabeth (born 1835), and Abigail (born 1840).

American authors Emerson and Thoreau, as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Fuller, played roles in Louisa education in Massachusetts, though she we primarily educated by her father at home.  As a child she was a voracious reader. She began writing her own stories as a teenager, but she did not find immediate success in the field.  Her sisters had found work to help support the family, and Louisa did the same with the occasional sewing job or work as a governess.

Still, she did not give up on writing entirely. She had some short stories and poetry published early on, and became a more well-known author with her first book, Flower Fables, published in the 1850s.  She found company with other authors and performing artists in Concord and Boston, which helped her remain in the area's cultural and literary loop.  She took a brief break from writing in 1862 when she moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as a nurse during the Civil War.  While there, unfortunately, Louisa contracted typhoid fever.  She was treated with a drug containing mercury and suffered from the effects of mercury poisoning for the rest of her life.

She picked up writing again after her service and found monetary success publishing sensational stories, such as Pauline's Passion and Punishment (1863), under the pseudonym "A. M. Barnard." But it was her best known work Little Women (1868) that brought Louisa fully out of obscurity. Little Women did not take shape until about a year after one of her publishers asked Louisa to write a book for girls.  The novel -- based largely on Louisa’s own life with three sisters -- was an instant hit and Louisa May Alcott was officially a household name. Little Women spawned several sequels, and Louisa went on to produce novels for children and adults.

In the 1870s, Louisa became active in the women’s suffrage and temperance movements.  She never married but came into custody of her sister Anna's baby, Louisa or "LuLu" as she was called," after Anna's untimely death in 1879. Her mother had died a couple years earlier, so Louisa spent most of her later years with her father.  He died in March 1888 just a few days before Louisa. The family never again returned to Philadelphia, but a historical marker denotes the place of Louisa's birth in Germantown.

Coffee As You've Never Had It

In the Penn family papers (Collection 485), Volume NV-006, there are two recipe books.”  Institutional lore says that they were written by each of William Penn's wives and as they are in obviously different handwritings, this is possible. However, at the top of one of the pages there is a note, "My Mother's receipts for Cookerys.... [signed] William Penn." Unfortunatly for this blog post, I do not have the time to explore this mystery further. Suffice to say, the manuscripts belong to the Penn family. One of the manuscripts is easily legible and concerns many remedies for eye afflictions. The other manuscript details a wide variety of recipes including Almon Cakes, Snuff, and Marmalade of Oringes. I have not spent much time with either of the books, as the first set of recipes (those for eye care), can make the reader queasy. The handwriting in the second set of recipes is so difficult to read that it took me the better part of a day to puzzle out the recipe I wanted: Too Make Coffee. When first looking at the recipe I read,  Too Make Coffoo as the construction of the “e” is backwards (see below). But working my way through the strange letter construction and extra flourishes of this handwriting was worth it for a chance to taste a 300-year-old coffee recipe.

Too Make Coffee:

Take water and boyle it but very littell then have ready your coffee pott that hold a pint a quart with an oz of the powder in it and brew it with a quart of water as you doo burnt wine then lett it stand in the Coffee pott with 3 or 4 springs of Rosemary and 20 grains of saffron desolined (my underline) it must stand so as to bee scalding hott butt not boyle you may drink it in 1/2 an hour butt if it stand an hour or too its better.

There is only one word I could not work out, desolined. If anyone else can make out this word, please let us know. 

If you would like to try this recipe yourself, here’s what I did:

  • 4c water
  • 4T ground coffee of your choice
  • 3 – 4 twigs of fresh rosemary approximately 4inches long
  • 2 good pinches of saffron (or you can count out 20 grains, tweezers might help with this)

Put the water and coffee into a pot and bring them to a boil. When making coffee this way I let the coffee boil up, remove the pot from the heat until it settles, put the pot back on the heat and repeat this process twice more. Turn heat to low, add the rosemary and saffron, and allow it to simmer for an hour. Strain the liquid before serving.

I will be honest about my reaction; the first sip was a bit of a shock. I found the flavor to be very unusual. This is a recipe for the adventurous palate to be sure! However, after a few sips the flavor mellows. With milk and sugar I ended up drinking the whole pot and decided it was delicious! 

As I went back to the original manuscript for this blog post, I realized that the coffee recipe is not with other foods or drinks. It is in the middle of recipes for medical ailments and sundries including "receipt to Cure the biting of a mad dogg if taken within 9 days." Many old family recipe books did not have any organization. New recipes were added at the end as they came along. But it seems there is some kind of organization to this manuscript.  Is it possible that this recipe was intended, not as an enjoyable drink, but as medicine? The caffeine would have given a remarkable energy boost, and in the 17th Century coffee was still a relatively new drink in England. According to Reay Tannahill in her book, Food in History, the first coffee house in England was established in 1650. Merchants advertised it as a magical elixer to cure everything from gout to asthma. William Penn was born in 1644 and if these are indeed his mother's recipes, she would have learned them at or close to the beginning of coffee in England. Could this recipe have been an early experiment for an even better "cure"? If anyone can provide insight to this, feel free to comment.

In the meantime, should you be intrigued enough to try your own pot of Mrs. Penn’s coffee, there is plenty of time to brew one this holiday weekend.

Join me next week for another recipe from Ellen Emlen's Cookbook.

HSP wishes you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving.

Martha Washington's Cookbook

Within the first three days starting my job at HSP, I was told of our major treasures. These include:  the first four drafts of the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Emancipation proclamation signed by President Lincoln. And as an aside, someone mentioned that  we also own Martha Washington’s cookbook. Since my first introduction to it, this book has become one of my favorite documents in our collections. I am a foodie and I love to cook. I enjoy the challenge of a unique recipe, especially one 400 years old.

Martha Washington inherited this book from her first mother-in-law, Mrs. Custis. A book such as this would have been written for a daughter so that she could take the family recipes with her when she married. Mrs. Washington kept the book in her possession for fifty years before giving it to her granddaughter Nelly Parke Custis. When the book came up for sale in 1892, HSP purchased the book.

According to Karen Hess who transcribed and annotated the manuscript, (Columbia University Press, 1981), the cookbook was most likely written in England at the beginning of the 17th Century. It begins from both ends with one side of the book containing The Booke of Cookery, and the other Sweet Meats. The Booke of Cookery is primarily recipes for savory dishes. The Sweet Meats refers to desserts and cakes. Ms. Hess was able to date the book by the ingredients from the recipes themselves. Characteristic of its time, the recipes are strongly influenced by French cooking and contain none of the ingredients from the new colonies in the Americas. There no mention of potatoes, tomatoes, corn or squash. Instead the book shows how much French and English cooking was influenced by food items from the near east. Almonds, rosewater, and Damascus Prunes, were all ingredients brought back by the Crusaders and became standard in recipes of the wealthy.

By my second year working at HSP we decided we wanted to have a potluck from the book. The surprise, prize winning recipe that afternoon was “To make a Lettis Tart”. Yes, I know, this doesn’t sound appetizing, but bear with me. Lettis was used to refer to many different leafy greens including spinach, chard and in this case probably cabbage. This recipe has become my standard for Thanksgiving potlucks as I always have an empty dish at the end of the evening. You will be pleasantly surprised how delicious and easy this recipe is – try it!

The recipe reads:

When you have raised ye crust, lay in all over the bottom some butter, & strow in some sugar, cinnamon, & a little boyle yr cabbage lettis in a little water & salt, & when ye water is drayned from it, lay it in yr coffin with some dammask pruens stoned; then lay on ye top some marrow & such seasoning as you layd on ye bottom. Yn close it up and bake it.

Modern Translation:

  • ½  medium cabbage (about 2-3cups after blanching)
  • 1c prunes chopped
  • 1T sugar
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 1/2t powdered ginger or 1 good grating of fresh ginger
  • 2 pie crusts, enough for base and lid

Preheat oven to 350F and set a large pot of salted water to boil.

Prepare the pie crust in a pie pan according to your favorite recipe. My favorite recipe is go to Trader Joes and purchase one from the frozen section, follow the directions on the box.

In the bottom of the pie pan spread out the chopped prunes. Sprinkle sugar cinnamon, and ginger over the top of the prunes.

Chop the cabbage and blanch quickly in boiling water. Allow to drain completely before placing this on top of the prunes and spices.

Cover the pie with remaining pie crust.

Bake at 350 for 30 – 40 minutes.

Enjoy!

Up next week, join me for a cup of Hannah Penn's coffee. You've never had coffee like this before.

If you would like your own adventure of cooking directly from original historic recipes, you can purchase a facsimile of Ellen Emlen’s Cookbook here.

 

Historical Recipes for your Holiday Table

The collections at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania include several manuscript recipe books. This includes Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and the Mrs. Penn's cookbooks, along with several volumes from family papers. In the next few weeks before the holidays I thought I would post some of our favorite recipes from these books. If you are looking for something unique for your holiday table, check back weekly for delicious dishes. Recreating the recipes from these books is fun and educational. Those who enjoy such adventures in the kitchen will be well rewarded.

I will start with one of our favorites from Ellen Emlen's Cookbook. Ellen Emlen (1814-1900) was a Philadelphia housewife, who left comprehensive manuscript cookbook behind. Her recipe for Cherry Bread ([147) is easy and delicious.

Pick the stalks from 2 lbs. of cherries, put them in a preserving pan, with about a pint of claret or port wine & 3/4 lb. of sugar – allow this to boil, remove the scum as it rises then run the whole through a sieve. Then cut a dozen pieces of bread, fry them in butter, & dry them in a cloth, shake some cinnamon & sugar over them & simmer all slowly or put in an oven for 1/2 an hour.

Written in typical paragraph style of recipes written pre 20th Century,the recipe is easy enough to follow, despite its unfamiliar form. The only piece of information missing is that the cherries should be sour cherries. The information is not provided as this would have been common knowledge to any cook in the mid 19th-Century. Luckily, all of these recipes are easily adjustable. You can substitute other cherries such as fresh, frozen (thawed first of course), or canned. Just be sure to adjust how much sugar you need by tasting the sauce as it simmers. If you are using regular cherries you will not need as much sugar.

Here is the recipe in modern terms:

  • 2 – 3 cups of sour cherries, stems removed, pitted if you are keeping the fruit (as I do)
  • 2c Claret or Port wine
  • 1 1/2c sugar or amount to taste
  • butter for frying bread 
  • loaf of white or whole grain bread (you need about 12 slices of sandwich size and thickness)
  • extra sugar for sprinkling bread
  • cinnamon

Combine the first three ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to medium and allow mixture to reduce to a syrup. Meanwhile, prepare a baking dish such as a 9x13 cake glass cake pan, unless of course, you have a copper pan as mentioned. Fry the bread in butter until it is golden brown and slightly crispy. As you remove the bread from the frying pan place it in the baking dish and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over it. When the cherry mixture has reduced a bit you can strain it if you wish. I choose not to because I like the fruit with the bread. Note: if you choose not to use all of the sugar, the mixture will not be quite as syrupy. But this will not affect the flavor of the dish. Pour the cherry mixture over the bread and put it in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes. The cherry syrup can be made ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.

An easy post-Thanksgiving breakfast perhaps?

Next week - a surprise favorite from Martha Washington's Cookbook.

If you would like your own adventure of cooking directly from original historic recipes, you can purchase a facsimile of Ellen Emlen’s Cookbook here.

Nearing the Finish Line on the Greenfield Digital Project

As the Greenfield Digital Project enters its final months, I'm amazed at all we've accomplished and also trying not to think too much about all the work we have left to complete.                  

We've spent the last two years developing a new web resource that will tell the story of the 1930 failure of Bankers Trust Company, the first large bank to fail in Philadelphia during the Great Depression.

We’ve digitized, transcribed, and encoded about 350 documents (though not all made it through the final vetting to be included in the project). We’ve written brief descriptions of 148+ people and organizations involved in the story of the failure of Bankers Trust. We’ve created a custom XML text-encoding schema and planned additional contextual resources for teachers and other users.

As we continue proofreading and tackling a hundred other tasks, we’re now working with outside web developers and designers to turn our two years of planning into an actual, working web site.

We’ve known from day one the rough outlines of what we’d like to do: present document images and document transcriptions side by side, with links to annotation and other contextual information, and all within a web site that is either part of or matches HSP’s main web site.

But the devil’s in the details.

Do we want users to walk through a specific interpretive story, like in a physical exhibit, or do we envision this working more like a document database, where users can search or browse a list of resources?

Should our document images appear in portrait or landscape orientation, and what would it take to present both? What do we lose by selecting only one default shape, and what do we lose by NOT defining a default shape?

How do we want transcribed text from our documents to appear on screen? Should handwritten edits be displayed differently than typed text? How should we present shorthand notes that we can't translate into readable text?

The list goes on and on. We’ve spent many hours hammering out these sorts of questions and working with the developers to pin down how the new web resource will work.

Soon, we’ll get to see all these plans turned into reality. In the weeks ahead, we’ll be testing out an alpha version of the site, uploading our documents and other content into the system, and then testing everything again to make sure all the moving pieces fit together as we expected.

You can read past blog posts on the Greenfield project, part of a larger effort funded by the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation, here.

I look forward to announcing our launch in early 2013!

Learning to Be a Distance Intern

I decided apply to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania because of the opportunity to work remotely all the way from Racine, Wisconsin. I work fulltime and I didn't want to try to figure out when to take a day off to physically work at another repository, especially when this is my only source of income. I’m enjoying the distance internship because I have the opportunity to work whatever hours during the day or night. This kind of flexibility is exactly what I need during my hectic school and work schedule.

I am learning new things each day as I am working with one other student through this internship. The digital aspect of the internship is what compelled me to apply in the first place. I am hoping to find a career placement within the digital humanities after I’m graduated.

Although the digital prospects are enticing with being able to work at any hour, it has also been a struggle of staying on top of the work and finding time in between my homework and my work to devote to the internship. My biggest issue this semester is learning proper time management in order to devote my full attention to the Madeira Collection. Slowly, I have been gaining control of the system and have been progressing at a steady rate.

I’ve had concerns that I haven’t been describing things correctly. Of course I’m interested in learning how to describe these items, step by step, in the most correct manner possible for future generations of viewers. It’s a heavy weight upon my shoulders and I’m glad that I’ve had direction throughout this semester to check and doublecheck all the work I’ve done. The work is fulfilling in that I can see that progress I have made.

The James Gibson Papers, and Other Adopt-A-Collections

Earlier this year, I completed a very interesting collection, and one that had been adopted: the James Gibson papers (Collection 236).  James Gibson was a lawyer from Philadelphia who, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, worked with several companies that dealt with the speculation in and distribution of Northern and Western Pennsylvania lands.  These companies included the Holland Land Company (though they worked extensively in Western New York), the Pennsylvania Population Company, and the Asylum Company.

My research on Gibson didn’t turn up much, and it's still a little unclear what exactly he did for these companies beyond, if anything, provide legal counsel.  His collection of papers isn't comprehensive, but they do shed light on the settlement of these then-wild lands of the state. In 1792, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed an "act for the sale of vacant lands within this Commonwealth." At least some of these lands, particularly those in western Pennsylvania, were to be given to Revolutionary War soldiers. It's possible that Gibson played a role in making sure that these lands were properly distributed. We don’t know from the collection if Gibson profited from the lands himself, since speculation of Western Pennsylvania lands was a popular hobby among Philadelphia's elite at the time. 

In Gibson's collection, researchers will find quite a bit of information on the behind-the-scenes dealings of land speculators and state officials, such as Allegheny County Commissioner and Revolutionary War captain Ebenezer Denny, Dutch financier Théophile Cazenove, and Judah Colt, and early founder of Erie, Pennsylvania.  Additionally, the collection contains plenty of interesting history on the settlement of Western Pennsylvania during the late 1700s and early 1800s, particularly in term s of the Pennsylvania Population Company's work.  There's also a small amount of Gibson's personal papers, including letters to his wife, but the collection contains little else on Gibson himself.

The James Gibson papers represents just one of HSP's many collections that are up for adoption.  When you adopt a collection, you help pay for that collection to be processed according to current archival standards and for the creation of its finding aid, which helps aid in accessibility. Plenty of other adopt-a-collections can be found in our Shop, but here's a quick sampling of what we have there:

American Society for Testing Materials Records (Collection 3574)
This collection of records documents the work of one ASTM committee that, around the turn of the 20th century, tackled the problem of frequent breaks in railroad tracks.  From their work, a new type of steel was produced that became the industry standard in railroad track construction.

Contemporary Club records (Collection 1981)
The Contemporary Club of Philadelphia was founded in 1886 as a scholarly society devoted to discussions on current events.  The club presented papers from and served as host to local and national political, literary, and artistic figures.

William Redwood records (Amb .7526)
William Redwood was a, 18th century merchant who worked in Newport, Rhode Island; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Antigua, West Indies. His records provide detailed accounts of his work, his plantation workers, and the many goods that he traded.

Judith Shuman Eden papers (Collection 3657)
Eden, a Philadelphia resident and activist, served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment under Mayor John Street and was later appointed to the Zoning Code Commission by Mayor Michael Nutter. Her papers cover various city-wide issues during the 1990s and 200s, such as homelessness, graffiti, parking, Broad Street revitalization, parks/public lands, and vacant lots/property

Stiefel family papers (Collection 3516)
In 1903, members of the Stiefel family set up a movie theater in Philadelphia, the Fairyland on Market Street, and later opened theaters elsewhere in Pennsylvania, and in Baltimore, New York, Washington DC, and California. Their papers document the family's involvement in the local and national entertainment business.

You must be a historian, right?

Recently, I was called down to the library to assist with a particular patron who had a question about a collection I had processed. During our conversation, he asked me about being an archivist at HSP. What fun it must be, he posited, to roam the stacks looking at various historic wonders of the greater Philadelphia area! I told him that it certainly was an interesting job, but that my days, alas, were not filled with treasure-hunting, but rather a seemingly never-ending variety of duties that, on any given day, may or may not involve finding fun historic stuff. (I thought about directing him to my "Day in the Life" blog post but wasn't able to quite work in the plug.)

The conversation then turned back to his work. He was a historian doing research at HSP for a journal article. I inquired further and then he abruptly asked, "As an archivist, you must be a historian, right?" I paused, politely said no, and he went on to excitedly expound upon some his discoveries.

That question, or rather assumption that "archivist" equals "historian," is one I've encountered frequently. To put it plainly and from what I've witnessed during my time at HSP, historians usually specialize in a particular historical "thing," an era, an event, a person, an invention, etc.  Some have advanced degrees in history and have published works on their specialized topics.  Others have years of field work under their belts, going from one institution to the next gathering information on a certain topic.  One of my jobs is to help the historians find what they're looking for.  I am interested in history, but I would not call myself a historian.

My work at HSP has involved a sizeable amount of historical research for finding aids, research inquiries, and other tasks. I have certainly become more knowledgeable about the history of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, but that knowledge doesn't magically turn me into a historian. I suppose one could call me a jack-of-all-histories. Whether I'm working on a collection of 18th century political documents or a series of posters produced during World War II, I'll need to do some background research to better understand the collections. I therefore know a little bit about a lot of things. If you want information about our collections, I can probably help you. If you want some help deciphering old handwriting, I've might be of assistance. If you want to know the difference between a daybook, journal, and ledger, I can help you with that. But if you want an in-depth discussion on the economical impact of the discovery of oil in western Pennsylvania in the 1850s, well…I know where it happened, but you should probably seek out a historian for real answers. I'm a custodian of history along with librarians, collections managers, museum registrars, and all the other people who work in our nation's cultural history and heritage organizations.  I am an archivist.  How can I help you direct your search?

Samuel H. Barker: A Key Player in the Bankers Trust Story

As Dana and I have mentioned in previous posts, we're currently conducting research and writing annotations for the people and organizations that are featured in the Bankers Trust Company story. We have recently begun focusing on some of the story's key players. One such pivotal figure is Samuel H. Barker, a very close business associate of Albert M. Greenfield.

Samuel H. Barker served as president of Bankers Trust Company from the time of the bank's incorporation in December 1926 until its closure on December 22, 1930. He also served as a director for a time.

Along with Greenfield, Barker played an instrumental role in the bank's founding. Previous to the creation of Bankers Trust, it appears that Barker had served for some time as a business consultant to Greenfield, or was part of a business syndicate that included the real estate magnate. The following letter from Barker to Greenfield, written on July 29, 1926- several months before Bankers Trust was incorporated- documents Barker recommending that Bankers Trust Company purchase the Bank and Trust Company of West Philadelphia. This aquisition, which occurred a few months later, led to the bank's incorporation.

As president, Barker played a pivotal role in the bank’s fast-paced growth. He also made significant efforts to reopen Bankers Trust Company after it closed and was placed into the hands of the Pennsylvania State Banking Department. Along with bank depositors, stockholders, and officers, he helped to develop a reorganization plan which ultimately failed to save the bank from liquidation.

Bankers Trust Company's Germantown branch building, which opened in September 1930- three months before the bank closed- was named after Barker.

Barker was also instrumental in the founding of Bankers Securities Corporation, an investment firm that he established with Greenfield in the spring of 1928. Bankers Securities became extremely successful; it was worth $31 million not even a year after it was founded. Barker served as president of Bankers Securities from its founding until 1931 when he became ill.

From an old established Quaker family, Samuel was born in Wyncote, Pennsylvania on Feb. 20, 1872 to Wharton and Margaret Corlies Barker.  Samuel’s father, Wharton Barker, had also been a banker, as well as a publicist, and Populist candidate for President in 1900. Samuel’s brother, Rodman Barker, served as John Wanamaker’s chief financial officer.

Barker received a degree in biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1889, but began a career in business almost immediately upon graduating. In 1890 he began working as a clerk in his father’s banking firm, Barker Brothers & Co. Barker also helped publish his father’s weekly newspaper, The American, which focused on national and economic issues. 

In 1901, Barker became a financial reporter for the newspaper, the Philadelphia North American. The following year he became the paper’s financial editor. In that same year married Ada Mae Long with whom he had four children. Barker served as the North American’s financial editor until 1925. During his time working for the newspaper, he also worked as a financial advisor.

Barker succumbed to a lengthy illness and died at the age of 67 at the home of his brother Rodman in Roxborough on September 13, 1939.

11/28/12
Author: Jessica Godfrey

This internship fell into my lap just when I thought I was not going to find anything to fulfill the fieldwork requirement for my Master of Library & Information Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I live in the great state of Montana, which is large in area but NOT in population or infrastructure. Major towns - of which there are probably only four - are 100+ miles apart. Trying to complete 150 hours of fieldwork is not realistic because the distances are so great.

Comments: 0

11/21/12
Author: Cary Hutto

This November marks the 180th birthday of popular novelist Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), author of such works as Flower Fables (1854), Hospital Sketches (1863), and Little Women (1868).  Most people associate Alcott with her life and work in Massachusetts, but did you know she had a Philadelphia connection?

Comments: 0

11/20/12
Author: Tara O'Brien

In the Penn family papers (Collection 485), Volume NV-006, there are two recipe books.”  Institutional lore says that they were written by each of William Penn's wives and as they are in obviously different handwritings, this is possible. However, at the top of one of the pages there is a note, "My Mother's receipts for Cookerys.... [signed] William Penn." Unfortunatly for this blog post, I do not have the time to explore this mystery further. Suffice to say, the manuscripts belong to the Penn family.

Comments: 2

11/15/12
Author: Tara O'Brien

Within the first three days starting my job at HSP, I was told of our major treasures. These include:  the first four drafts of the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Emancipation proclamation signed by President Lincoln. And as an aside, someone mentioned that  we also own Martha Washington’s cookbook. Since my first introduction to it, this book has become one of my favorite documents in our collections. I am a foodie and I love to cook. I enjoy the challenge of a unique recipe, especially one 400 years old.

Comments: 2

11/9/12
Author: Tara O'Brien

The collections at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania include several manuscript recipe books. This includes Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and the Mrs. Penn's cookbooks, along with several volumes from family papers. In the next few weeks before the holidays I thought I would post some of our favorite recipes from these books. If you are looking for something unique for your holiday table, check back weekly for delicious dishes. Recreating the recipes from these books is fun and educational. Those who enjoy such adventures in the kitchen will be well rewarded.

Comments: 2

11/7/12
Author: Dana Dorman

As the Greenfield Digital Project enters its final months, I'm amazed at all we've accomplished and also trying not to think too much about all the work we have left to complete.                  

Comments: 0

10/31/12
Author: Kathryn Skull

I decided apply to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania because of the opportunity to work remotely all the way from Racine, Wisconsin. I work fulltime and I didn't want to try to figure out when to take a day off to physically work at another repository, especially when this is my only source of income. I’m enjoying the distance internship because I have the opportunity to work whatever hours during the day or night. This kind of flexibility is exactly what I need during my hectic school and work schedule.

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10/24/12
Author: Cary Hutto

Earlier this year, I completed a very interesting collection, and one that had been adopted: the James Gibson papers (Collection 236).  James Gibson was a lawyer from Philadelphia who, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, worked with several companies that dealt with the speculation in and distribution of Northern and Western Pennsylvania lands.  These companies included the Holland Land Company

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9/27/12
Author: Cary Hutto

Recently, I was called down to the library to assist with a particular patron who had a question about a collection I had processed. During our conversation, he asked me about being an archivist at HSP. What fun it must be, he posited, to roam the stacks looking at various historic wonders of the greater Philadelphia area! I told him that it certainly was an interesting job, but that my days, alas, were not filled with treasure-hunting, but rather a seemingly never-ending variety of duties that, on any given day, may or may not involve finding fun historic stuff.

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9/24/12
Author: Faith Charlton

As Dana and I have mentioned in previous posts, we're currently conducting research and writing annotations for the people and organizations that are featured in the Bankers Trust Company story. We have recently begun focusing on some of the story's key players. One such pivotal figure is Samuel H.

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