Archival Adventures in Small Repositories

The goal of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's "Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories" (HCI-PSAR) is to make better known and more accessible the important but often hidden archival collections held by the many small, primarily volunteer-run historical organizations in the Philadelphia area. The project is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This blog will document the adventures and experiences of Project Surveyors as they visit historical societies, museums, historic sites, and other small archival repositories in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.

 

 

4/15/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Nicholas Biddle (1786-1844), best known for serving as Director of the Second National Bank of the United States, acquired the Bucks County (Pa.) property "Andalusia" from his parents-in-law 200 years ago, in 1814. Today, the house museum is open for tours and also serves as the repository for about 70 linear feet of Biddle family papers. If you are researching the Biddles or any of the innumerable arenas with which their lives intersected, you can bank on finding the archival resources you need there.

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4/10/14
Author: Sarah Leu

When it comes to archival records and manuscripts, the Radnor Historical Society in Delaware County, Pennsylvania has a little bit of everything. Its collections include business records, school records, family papers, subject files, glass plate negatives, maps, and the records of a variety of local clubs and associations.

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4/8/14
Author: Sarah Leu

When researching family history, there are a variety of resources through which genealogists can discover information. Some of the most popular materials used include vital records, census records, and ship passenger lists. Another information resource, which many would not initially think to use, is school records.

Topics: Education, Genealogy
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4/7/14
Author: Sarah Leu

Since the 44th celebration of Earth Day is just around the corner (April 22), it is fitting that this week’s blog post is all about Tyler Arboretum in Media, Pennsylvania! In addition to preserving 650 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows, Tyler uses its living collections, which contain several rare plants and trees, to educate the public about the natural world.

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4/3/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

150 years ago this month, the "Ringgold Regiment," also known as Bucks County's Own Regiment, was camped on Morris Island near Charleston, South Carolina. The high tides were rising steadily from when the regiment first landed on the island the previous summer, but the men moved their tents upshore to weather the winter. Using scavenged pieces of boards and parts of cracker boxes, many were able to raise their tents above the sand or dig wind-protected "basements" below. On April 20th, 1864, the soldiers would tear down these tents to move to Hilton Head.*

Topics: Civil War
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3/31/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

The first African American Presbyterian congregation in the United States, appropriately named First African Presbyterian Church, was founded right here in Philadelphia over 200 years ago. A roster of figures notable in Presbyterianism and the African American community in Philadelphia served in the church's ministry, beginning with John Gloucester (1776-1822), a former slave who established the congregation. Since 1910, the John Gloucester Memorial and Historical Society has been dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of Gloucester and of First African Presbyterian Church.

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3/26/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen
Anthony Wayne was one of the most important Generals of the Revolutionary War, and also played a crucial role in the Northwest Indian War (1785–1796). At his ancestral home, Historic Waynesborough, visitors can learn about life of Anthony Wayne and his family, and also peruse some of the documents that tell their story.

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3/19/14
Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Wheat, Rye, Corn, Mix, Oats, or Corn Cobs? I know those options sounds delicious, but no, I'm not asking what you want for lunch. At a grist mill in the late 19th and early 20th centuries this would have been a familiar question. There used to be scores of mills, including about 20 grist mills, lining the banks of the Wissahickon Creek. Today, the Evans-Mumbower Mill is one of only a few that remain.

Topics: Industry
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3/12/14
Author: Sarah Leu

Like several of today’s suburbs outside of Philadelphia, Wallace Township (Chester County) used to be home to many farmsteads in the 18th and early 19th centuries. However, by the late 19th century, the railroad had made its way to these rural communities, bringing with it an influx of Philadelphians eager to establish summer residences away from the city. Among these Philadelphians were the Howsons.

Topics: Women
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3/5/14
Author: Sarah Leu

The area now known as Uwchlan Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania was once occupied by the Leni-Lenape (Delaware) and Iroquoian-speaking Susquehanuck peoples, and many of the footpaths they created are still in use today as roads that crisscross through the Township. Welsh Quakers were the main European group to settle in Uwchlan, requesting their own meeting in 1712.

Topics: Civil War
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