In 2015 we entered the next phase of the project: to organize, inventory and preserve these records in accordance with accepted archival principles; and for this work we engaged Jefferson M Moak, a professional archivist, historian and genealogist. Mr. Moak has worked at the Map Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Historical Commission, the Philadelphia City Archives, and most recently as senior archivist at the National Archives at Philadelphia.
Mr Moak is comparing the records made by our interns with the actual inventory and annotating these records to describe the objects. For example, we have a number of property deeds that once belonged to the Welsh Strawbridge's family:
Wissahickon Avenue Properties: There are a number of deeds relating to properties on either side of Wissahickon Avenue in Germantown and Roxborough. Some of the deeds relate to the early history of property in the 6700 block upon which Anne West Strawbridge (Welsh's sister) built her house. Others relating to Spring Bank, the John Welsh property on the Roxborough side of the avenue. John Welsh is Welsh Strawbridge's maternal grandfather, and president of the Centennial Board of Finance that virtually ran the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Fairmount Park and a Commissioner of Fairmount Park for many years.
In addition to these deeds, we have also inventoried and stored our many maps. Next step is to organize the maps into a coherent collection with proper labeling and placement within the map drawers.
After consulting with the Historical Society of Philadelphia (see below), we decided to bring in another professional to assist in the next stage of the project, simply sorting what we had into broad categories and then properly storing them.
In Spring 2014 we engaged Susan Duhl, a professional in Collections Management, who helped us define and set-up the project. Susan supervised 2 interns: Karl Schultz, who worked with us in the summer of 2014 before starting his freshman year at Muhlenberg College, and; Joanna Hurd, who just finished her graduate degree, during the fall of 2014.
Karl's task over the summer was to do a simple, initial sort on the collection, see what we had and identify categories for it to be sorted into.
Joanna, beginning in September, oversaw the ordering and construction of archival materials, including storage boxes and shelving, so that the archives room could be restructured in a safer, more accessible method. The entirety of our inventoried collection is now stored in acid-free boxes, inter-leaved with high-quality archival paper. The entirety of our over-sized items are also stored in a similar manner in our flat storage files. Our objects are now displayed in two units, one new shelving unit upstairs and a glass display case, generously donated, so all who visit can easily view everything from a 19th c. Charms Candy promotional coin to an original address plaque from the property.
While the sorting process is still on-going, we have come across a number of exciting discoveries among our collection. Most prominent are wedding pictures of Welsh and Margaret Strawbridge, early detailed maps of Horsham Township, and a wealth of textiles from delicately crocheted tablecloths to petite kidskin gloves. We expect to find more notable items as the archiving process continues.
We weren't sure where to start on this project so we reached out to the Historical Society of Philadelphia in 2012. HSP helped us get a handle on what we had - items that were of local interest - and to get started on organizing these materials. HPHA is a "History Affilliate" of HSP. A summary of their work can be found here.
HPHA has known for a while that we have a lot of interesting and historically significant documents, photos, and objects that we needed to catalog and preserve - but we really didn't know where to start. We can probably trace the beginning of this project to our discovery of the 1718 Samuel Carpenter Indenture which was part of a large collection of documents, equipment, furniture and other 'stuff' that was generously donated to us by Mr Joseph H. (Buck) Penrose way back in 2010. (We are sad to report that Mr Penrose passed away in 2015).
We recognized the value of this document - and others - and began work to restore individual pieces. The 1718 Indenture was first. Conservation and framing cost $1200 and was done by a professional, Elizabeth Wendelin of Warrington in 2012. While the work done was well worth the price, we quickly realized that we needed to get serious about our document preservation efforts and raise funds to drive the project.
Our collection includes material from the Penrose and Strawbridge families dating back to the 1700's, plus information on other Horsham families and properties - and we are always looking for more.
Maintaining a collection such as ours is expensive, if you appreciate our efforts then please make a donation!