Fondly, Pennsylvania is a joint blog of HSP's archives, conservation, and digitization departments. Here you will find posts on our latest projects and newest discoveries, as well as how we care for, describe, and preserve our collections. 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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.