Michael Gubicza

Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories

Michael received a B.A. in Women's Studies and English Literature from Temple University, and is in the process of earning an M.L.I.S. from the University of Pittsburgh. Michael worked at HSP from 2011-2012 as a Project Surveyor for Phase I of the Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories

This Author's Posts

Well our one year pilot program is coming to an end. We have visited 47 repositories and surveyed 513 collections. That equals 4,666 linear feet of materials. That’s enough to fill 11,190 document boxes!  That’s the equivalent of 58 Blue Whales (the largest mammal on earth), or 175 school buses in length! 

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Before our visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary I was a little nervous about entering the imposing building. What would it be like locked inside? It turns out, quite pleasant. The folks there have done amazing work restoring the site, and their archives are quite unique.



The history of firefighting in Philadelphia began with an all volunteer fire company in 1736, The Union Fire Company, which was formed by Benjamin Franklin. Along with many other volunteer companies throughout the city these men fought the fires of Philadelphia for over 100 years. In 1870 the city passed an ordinance creating the professional fire department which still exists today.

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We were lucky enough to visit the Woodlands Cemetery in West Philadelphia this April and there may not be a more beautiful and tranquil place to be found in the city. Surrounded on all sides by hectic city life Woodlands is a haven that you don’t have to wait until your funeral to escape to. During their open hours you can take a stroll or a jog, walk your dog, ride your bike, or mosey around and search for your favorite noteworthy inhabitant's final resting place.


Drinking alcohol in Colonial America was a popular past time with just about everyone. The Colonists thought alcohol could cure the sick, aid in digestion, and strengthen the weak. In England water was often polluted and caused illness, so the British replaced water with beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages. The Colonists took their cue from the British and avoided fresh water, even though they did not have a problem with polluted water. They didn’t need much of an incentive to partake in the libations. Whether starting the day with a pick-me-up or ending it with a night cap, the Colonists knew how to party.

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The sport of rowing in Philadelphia has a long and venerable history. The gentlemen of our city would take to the water to compete for distinction and bragging rights. With the damming of the Schuylkill River, which was completed in 1821, the sport grew in size and structure in ways that these genteel men could not have imagined.


The Mummers Parade has been a cultural institution for Philadelphians since 1901. The tradition itself dates back even further, to the late 17th century. It started as a way of ushering in the New Year with masquerades and noise making, and has grown to an organized parade of elaborate costumes, dancing, and live music. The Mummers of today number over 20,000, and the parade attendees number over 125,000. 


You may have heard of the famous talking television horse, Mr. Ed, but have you ever heard of the war veteran horse named Old Baldy? 


Ever wonder you could use those piles of vellum and parchment indentures/deeds that you have lying around for? What, you don't have piles of those in your home? 

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