Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Celia Caust-Ellenbogen is Senior Project Surveyor on the Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. She began working at HSP in early 2011 under the auspices of the PACSCL-CLIR "Hidden Collections" project, and has been working on the HCI-PSAR project since September of 2011. She holds a BA in History and World Literatures from Swarthmore College, and an MLIS with a concentration in Archives, Preservation and Records Management from the University of Pittsburgh.

This Author's Posts

In the twenty-first century, perhaps the only thing more anachronistic than an organization with a 15-word name is a vigilante group dedicated to stamping out horse thieves. In many ways, finding archival records from 1819 of "The Newtown Reliance Company for the Detecting and Apprehending of Horse Thieves and Other Villains" at the Newtown Historic Association was less surprising than learning that the group is still active in the year 2013.


Last Saturday (February 2nd, 2013), HSP's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories held a "Meet & Greet" and orientation to introduce Bucks County organizations to the project. It was held at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown.


I was initially disappointed that we had a January appointment to survey the archival collections at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania--nothing would be in bloom! But luckily for us, and for researchers everywhere, over 1,000 historic photographs from the Arboretum's archives have been digitized and can be viewed online. You don't have to use your imagination to see the Arboretum in springtime or in 1890: just look at http://morrisarboretum.pastperfect-online.com!


HCI-PSAR staff visited 47 repositories and surveyed about 4,600 linear feet of archival holdings during the 14-month pilot phase of the project! We created a new interactive map on the HSP website so you can see where we've been.

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Frankly, we've been merry-making all weekend and we're not in the mood to write a proper blog post this week. Instead, we're going to share with you some of our favorite Christmas- and New Year's-related finds from the archives of small repositories. 


When the First Association of Spiritualists of Philadelphia established a summer compound in Parkland (Bucks County, Pa.) in 1890, they reputedly chose the spot based on a message from the spirit world: "Thar's gold in that thar hill of Parkland!" The location is not far from the present-day Historic Langhorne Association, a gold mine of archival information on Parkland.

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This week's blog post is over on the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's new genealogy blog, Roots & Branches. Head over to http://hsp.org/blogs/roots-branches/genealogy-research-off-the-beaten-path to read the full text of "Genealogy Research off the Beaten Path," highlighting some of the excellent resources for genealogy research at small archival repositories.


If you hit a dead end in your genealogy research at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, try your luck at one of over 100 small archival repositories and historical societies in the Philadelphia area!


Alice H. Ambler (1889-1981) was an independent, modern woman. Here she is pictured in her driver's license for 1923--the same year she entered a master's degree program at Columbia University. The Alice H. Ambler family papers at the Plymouth Meeting Historical Society tell Alice's story, plus the stories of other history-making Ambler women. 


Over the past few weeks, my new co-surveyor Faith Charlton and I have been surveying some collections here at HSP in order to get Faith up to speed with the HCI-PSAR Survey Method. Our methodology is nothing revolutionary--on the contrary, it is intentionally conventional because we would like our data to be comparable to similar projects. However, over the past year we found that a few adaptations and refinements were necessary when translating the basic archival survey tool into the small repository context.