Small Repositories Subject Guide: Race, Class, and Gender

Small repositories represent the diversity of inhabitants in the five-county Philadelphia area. Archival collections document the lives of African Americans, ethnic and immigrant communities, LGBT individuals, and union members.

The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR), a project of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is uncovering the hundreds of hidden archival collections held by the many small historical repositories in the five county Philadelphia area. Some of the collections cataloged in the HCI-PSAR project are summarized in this subject guide, which is designed to facilitate and encourage research at small repositories. The guide is not comprehensive but will serve to highlight underutilized collections and reveal the depth and breadth of resources available at small repositories.

Finding aids to all small repository archival collections surveyed in the HCI-PSAR project are available at our finding aid website, hosted by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries. Finding aids are being added on an ongoing basis, so check back frequently.

African Americans
Ethnic and immigrant communities
Organized labor
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) individuals
Women

African Americans

Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts records, 1925-1974 (PCC.01)
Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts
34.33 linear feet
The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts was founded in 1966 as the social club of the Union Local No. 274 of the American Federation of Musicians. Local No. 274, the Black musicians union of Philadelphia, was in existence from 1935 to 1971. With members such as John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie, Local 274 was an important organization in the development of jazz in Philadelphia. The Clef Club served as a foundation for the city's jazz community, advancing projects to benefit jazz musicians. The Club continued to function as a social club until 1978, when it expanded its activities to include jazz performance, jazz instruction, and the preservation of Philadelphia's rich jazz history. The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts records, 1925-1974, include records of both the Black Musicians Union Local No. 274 and the Clef Club. The records, which appear to be fairly comprehensive, consist primarily of administrative records, financial records, and records relating to members.

Dr. Hiram Corson family papers, 1827-1896 (HSMC.12)
Historical Society of Montgomery County
6.7 linear feet
Dr. Hiram Corson (1804-1896) was a practicing physician, and an advocate for abolitionism and women in medicine. He lived in Plymouth Meeting, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The Dr. Hiram Corson family papers, 1827-1896, consist primarily of the papers of Dr. Hiram Corson, with a small amount of materials by other family members. The highlight of the collection is the diaries of Dr. Corson, which date from 1848 to 1896.

Germantown Historical Society oral history projects, circa 1992-1993 (GHS.31)
Germantown Historical Society
10 linear feet
Germantown and Mount Airy are neighborhoods in the northwest section of Philadelphia which underwent dramatic demographic change, from nearly all Caucasian to significantly African-American, over the course of the 20th century. During the early 1990s, the Germantown Historical Society, in conjunction with other groups, conducted three oral history projects. The Germantown Historical Society oral history projects, circa 1992-1993, contains about 140 tapes of interviews, as well as some transcripts, interviewee data sheets, and other associated documents. The three oral history projects focused on the topics of Integration in West Mount Airy, African-Americans in Germantown between the World Wars, and Awbury Arboretum.

Ethnic and Immigrant Communities

Various collections on Swedish-American cultural heritage are held at the American Swedish Historical Museum, notably the following:

Johannes Hoving papers, 1917-1936 (ASHM.06)
American Swedish Historical Museum
10.5 linear feet
Johannes Hoving (1868-1954) was a Finnish-born Swedish physician who immigrated to New York in 1903. Hoving was highly involved in and a member of many organizations associated with American-Swedish culture. The Johannes Hoving papers, 1917-1936, consist primarily of correspondence, with clippings, photographs, receipts, tickets, and other ephemera. The bulk relate to Hoving's involvement with the Vasa Order of America, the St. Erik club for Swedish art and writing in America, and other Swedish-American social and cultural groups.

Goschenhoppen Historians manuscript volumes collection, 1789-1968 (GH.12)
Goschenhoppen Historians
8 linear feet
Goschenhoppen, one of the oldest continuously existing Pennsylvania German communities in America, is a geographic region in Montgomery County. The Goschenhoppen Historians document and ephemera collection, 1758-1992, documents local history and is rich in genealogical data. It includes receipts and accounts, indentures, vital records, correspondence, and other original documents; ephemera, such as advertisements, pamphlets, broadsides, and sheet music, are also in the collection. Fine examples of Fraktur are of special interest.

William Edgar Geil papers, 1886-2013 [bulk 1900-1910], 46 linear feet (DOY.03)
Doylestown Historical Society
46 linear feet
Often referred to as "America's Forgotten Explorer," William Edgar Geil (1865-1925) was an evangelical missionary and international explorer from Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania who was most likely the first individual to travel the entire Great Wall of China (in 1908). He was a sought-after lecturer and orator; authored 10 books, including his best-selling travelogue The Great Wall of China(Sturgis & Walton Company, 1909); and was an accomplished photographer whose work documented vanishing cultures. The William Edgar Geil papers, 1886-2013 (bulk 1900-1910), include nearly 2,000 photographs; book preparation materials covering all phases of the editorial process; diaries and field notes; personal correspondence; newspaper clippings; and artwork. The collection documents William E. Geil's extensive travels, his work as an evangelist and missionary, and his family.

James T. Caulfield and Rafael A. Suarez papers, 1918-1985 [bulk 1944-1985] (JJW.SC.0013)
John J. Wilcox Jr. GLBT Archives of Philadelphia
5 linear feet
Dr. Rafael A. Suarez and James T. Caulfield, known as "The Philamigos," traveled throughout South America in the 1950s-1980s, operated a learning center in Philadelphia, and were prominent members of the Philadelphia LGBT community. The James T. Caulfield and Rafael A. Suarez papers, 1918-1985, extensively document their works, including the Philamigos Institute of Learning, their travels abroad, and Caulfield's experience as a gay soldier during World War II. The collection contains correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, ephemera, over a dozen 16-mm films, and stamps/correspondence regarding philately.

Organized labor

William Collier slides and files, 1925-1977 (HSHT.03)
Historical Society of Hilltown Township
25.5 linear feet
William E. Collier (1902-1977), a resident of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, worked for Pennsylvania's Bureau of Employment Security from the 1930s to the 1960s. A majority of his work related to the state's response to the Great Depression, unemployment compensation, and labor unions. Collier was also an avid amateur historian who photographed Bucks County landmarks from 1966 until his death. The William Collier slides and files, 1925-1977, consist of approximately 5,200 slides of structures and sites of Bucks County and surrounding areas, local history research files, and professional papers relating to his work for the government.

Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts records, 1925-1974 (PCC.01)
Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts
34.33 linear feet
The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts was founded in 1966 as the social club of the Union Local No. 274 of the American Federation of Musicians. Local No. 274, the Black musicians union of Philadelphia, was in existence from 1935 to 1971. With members such as John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie, Local 274 was an important organization in the development of jazz in Philadelphia. The Clef Club served as a foundation for the city's jazz community, advancing projects to benefit jazz musicians. The Club continued to function as a social club until 1978, when it expanded its activities to include jazz performance, jazz instruction, and the preservation of Philadelphia's rich jazz history. The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts records, 1925-1974, include records of both the Black Musicians Union Local No. 274 and the Clef Club. The records, which appear to be fairly comprehensive, consist primarily of administrative records, financial records, and records relating to members.

LGBT individuals

Various collections on LGBT individuals and organizations are held at the John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives of Philadelphia, notably the following:

Labyrinth records, 1983-1995 (JJW.SC.0010)
John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives of Philadelphia
5 linear feet
Labyrinth was a feminist newspaper published from 1984 to 2000. The Labyrinth records, 1983-1995, are comprised of administrative records, financial records, and correspondence.

Bill Way Collection, 1942-2004 [bulk 1968-1987] (JJW.0016)
John J. Wilcox Jr. GLBT Archives of Philadelphia
4 linear feet
William Way (1942-1988) worked as the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and as an advocate for the Philadelphia LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community. The Bill Way collection, 1942-2004, is comprised of scrapbooks compiled by Way documenting his life, the LGBT community in Philadelphia, and City of Philadelphia redevelopment in the 1970s and 1980s. There are also materials relating to Way donated by various individuals, notably an oral history interview with Maury Lieberman.

Kiyoshi Kuromiya papers on HIV/AIDS research and organizations, 1990-2002 (JJW.SC.0018)
John J. Wilcox Jr. GLBT Archives of Philadelphia
58 Linear feet
Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000) was a Philadelphia-based activist who worked to better the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. He created the Critical Path AIDS Project to provide free internet access and information on HIV/AIDS treatment. The bulk of the Kiyoshi Kuromiya papers on HIV/AIDS research and organizations, 1990-2002, is comprised of newspaper clippings, scientific articles, conference materials, and flyers collected by Kuromiya on HIV/AIDS treatments, topics, and organizations. There are also some records from Kuromiya's Critical Path AIDS Project, Kuromiya personal papers, and records from Anna Forbes from the Working Group on HealthChoices and HIV.

Women

See Small Repositories Subject Guide: Women's History