Volume 11, Winter 2012
RG-6, Department of Forests and Waters, William T. Clarke
glass plate negative, 3879, Itinerent Preacher Hammersley
Region, Clinton County, PA
A Message from State Archivist David Haury
Very general descriptions in the History Code outline PHMC’s mandate to collect, preserve, and make available the historical records from the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. The History Code even gives PHMC the authority to examine any public records in the Commonwealth and report on their condition and to “cause all laws related to public records to be enforced.” Unfortunately, these seemingly broad powers in practice are largely toothless and often ignored.
The laws related to public records are quite brief, practically non-existent, in Pennsylvania. The records management program is established by the Administrative Code of 1929 (71 PA C.S. I Chapter 2 Article V § 524) and requires that both PHMC and the Executive Board approve the disposal of any state records. This rule requiring review of all records is the foundation necessary for a successful archival program. However, Executive Order 1992-1 establishes the responsibility for administering the records management program in the Office of Administration (OA) and relegates PHMC to implement it. This arrangement with OA occasionally undercuts or takes resources away from PHMC’s primary interest in being involved in records management, which is the acquisition of archival records from agencies.
Several pieces of legislation should be passed to improve this situation. First, the Administrative Code and History Code should be updated and expanded to define the responsibilities and powers of the State Archives. Second, the State Archives should be established as the official repository for the records of the Governor’s Office. As was mentioned in the previous issue of Access Archives, Pennsylvania Governors may do anything they wish with the records of their office when their administration ends, including destroying them or donating them to a private institution. For many years most Governors have deposited their records in the State Archives, and the recent transfer of the records of the Rendell Administration went quite smoothly. However, as is the case with most other states, this should be mandatory and such an arrangement would foster a closer and ongoing relationship between the Governor’s Office and State Archives. Third, the Commonwealth should pass a replevin or recovery of government records law which allows both state and local governments to recover their records which have been stolen or otherwise alienated from government custody. Without such legislation it is extremely difficult to repatriate to government custody any documents which appear for sale online, such as on e-Bay, or in dealers' catalogs. Legislation in these three areas would establish a clearer identity and firmer foundation for the Pennsylvania State Archives.
Scholars in Residence Program Returns
We are pleased to announce the return of the Scholars in Residence Program. Renamed the Pennypacker Fellowship, it is made possible through a collaboration between the State Library of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).
Applications for the 2012-2013 program are being accepted through January 30. The Pennypacker Fellowship Program provides support for up to eight weeks of full-time research and study in library, manuscript and artifact collections maintained by the State Library, as well as any PHMC facility, including the Pennsylvania State Archives, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, and twenty-three historic sites and museums around the state.
Residency programs are open to all who are conducting research on Pennsylvania history, including academic scholars, public sector professionals, independent scholars, graduate students, educators, writers, filmmakers, and others. Residencies may be scheduled for up to eight weeks at any time during the period June 1, 2012-May 30, 2013; stipends are awarded at the rate of $400 per week.
Applicants are encouraged to conceive of research topics as broadly as possible, including beyond the boundaries of Pennsylvania. They are further required to identify relevant State Library and/or Commission collections, assess their availability and accessibility, and discuss their research agenda with appropriate staff prior to submitting a proposal. Because the Office of Commonwealth Libraries and the Commission are interested in making history meaningful and accessible to diverse audiences, research that is likely to result in widespread dissemination through publications, films, exhibitions, or other means is especially welcome.
For a full description of the residency program and application materials, as well as information about the Library and Commission's research collections, please go to the website of the State Library of Pennsylvania or the PHMC program website.
Please address any additional questions to Josh Stahlman, Pennypacker Fellowship Program Administrator at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Iren L. Snavely, Rare Books Librarian, Office of Commonwealth Libraries at: email@example.com. The deadline for applications is January 30, 2012. Notification of awards will be made in late March.
The transition from one administration to the next, in January 2011, not only included the swearing-in of a new Governor but also marked an historical milestone; the State Archive acquired its first large volume of digital media from an outgoing administration.
Commonwealth Media Services (CMS), part of the Department of General Services, provides the photographers, videographers, setup and production staff behind the Governor’s events. Beginning with the Inauguration, CMS is responsible for complete day-to-day coverage including press announcements, photo ops and news events. At the end of each administration CMS transfers the video tapes and photos to the State Archives in accordance with their records retention and disposition schedule.
Early in the Rendell administration, CMS alerted the State Archives that they would no longer produce physical media of the Governor’s events. Instead, they were upgrading their technology to produce in digital high-definition format. The State Archives had no provisions for accessioning digital media, and consequently submitted Electronic Archives (e-Archives) project requests three years in a row which were ultimately endorsed by the IT Governance Board on September 24, 2006. However, “endorsement” simply meant approval of the project concept and did not provide funding. The Project documents were then submitted to the Office of Budget and, although the project remained in approved status, no funding was granted. At that time, CMS and the State Archives discussed a partnership. Beginning with fiscal year 2007-08 we a small amount of money was transferred to CMS each year for a shared system.
The limited storage initially acquired was not sufficient to store the large high-definition media files produced during the Rendell administration. However, in December 2010, the Governor’s office contributed the funds necessary to purchase the requisite storage. In January of 2011 a new administration took office and the records of the Rendell Administration were transferred from CMS to the State Archives.
VideoBank is the primary software used for the e-Archives program and CMS is the Archives’ hosting system partner. Metadata must be entered into VideoBank in real-time while listening to and watching the video. Index information must then be verified with the tape cartridge shell. The Archives was fortunate to have summer intern Wes Decker assist with metadata entry for the Rendell media, which continues, as well as the conversion of physical media from the Ridge/Schweiker Administration to digital format for preservation and access.
Due to budget and resource limitations, the Governors records are the only electronic records the Archives can currently accept and the application is accessible only in-house. If funds become available, certain file types are slated to be made available via the internet.
For additional information concerning the e-Archives contact Linda Avetta, Digital Archives and Records Division Chief, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-705-6923.
Letter Conservation Rights a Wrong
Thanks to the generosity of the Isett Foundation of Huntingdon, PA, the State Archives has been able to reveal for the first time in about eighty years the true height of the “Standing Stone” at Huntingdon.
The Standing Stone was an important geographical feature erected by Native Americans and mentioned by travelers through the mountains in eighteenth-century Pennsylvania. It was a single stone shaped like an obelisk six inches wide by fourteen feet long. Now gone, it is nevertheless an important part of the early history of Huntingdon County. The only contemporary account of the size of the stone is in a 1754 letter written by John Harris (Founder of Harrisburg), describing the distances from Harris’ Ferry to the Ohio River. The letter is now part of Record Group 21, the Records of the Provincial Council at the State Archives.
Over the years, it became worn and broken along fold lines. During the 1920s, the Archives mended the letter with a crude paper. Part of the mend obscured the “1” of the number “14”, making the height of the stone read as four feet high. A Huntingdon newspaper reporter, viewing the document during the 1930s, reported it as such, and the controversy over the height has been raging since. Fred Lang and Nancy Shedd, both advocates of Huntingdon history, visited the Archives in June of 2010, and upon viewing the original letter suggested the old mends be removed. At this point, J. Melvin Isett of the Isett Museum in Huntingdon stepped in and offered to fund new conservation treatment of the document to remove the old mends and reveal the original writing. The document was sent to the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in the Fall of 2011, and their treatment conclusively revealed the height of the stone as fourteen feet!
The document will be on display at the State Museum along with the original 1681 Charter to William Penn during Heritage Week, March 2-11, 2012. The State Archives is grateful for the assistance of the Isett Foundation in correcting this historical dilemma.
Ronald Nath: Ronald holds a Master's degree from Penn State in American Studies and has been voluteering twice a week at the State Archives. He is working with archivist Brett Reigh to rehouse Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission photographs from the 1950s into proper acid- free storage containers, and catalog the collection. Additionally, Ronald has been working with archivist Kurt Bell on Videobank (see related article) referencing, editing and recording the video collection of Governor Ed Rendell.
Matthias Voelkel: Matthias is from Dresden, Germany where he studied Modern History, Political Science and Philosophy until this summer. He graduated as Magister Artium, what is equivalent to a Masters degree. He started working as an intern for the State Archives at the end of October and will stay until the end of February. After that Matthias hopes to write a dissertation. He is involved in multiple projects at the State Archives. Amongst others, he transliterates and translates nineteenth century German letters from various collections, works on the Muster-out-roll-project, and on Videobank (See related article in this issue).
Basic Processing Project Update
The State Archives received a $166,298 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to provide minimal processing for unprocessed government records among its holdings. The project began in September of 2010.
Project archivists in June 2011 completed series-title naming and numbering unprocessed records and all attention is presently on the writing of series descriptions and placing these on the Archives website. To date, 50 record groups (RGs) or over two-thirds of all RGs, have been completed, including the writing of over 730 series descriptions comprising over 6,000 cubic feet. Eleven RGs remain to be completed.
As a side benefit, archivists have identified nearly 3,100 cubic feet of records that are duplicative or not pertinent to our collecting mission, and have been deaccessioned, saving much needed storage space in the Archives Tower. The project will end in June 2012. For more information contact Linda Ries, Project Director at email@example.com
Tales from the Tower: Magee Civil War Diaries
In June 2011, Sandra Baker of Otis Orchards, Washington state, donated three nineteenth century diaries to the Pennsylvania State Archives. There are two Civil War Diaries of John A. Magee, corporal, Company E, 100th PVI, ca. 1861-1864, written in pencil, and one transcribed version of the above diaries, written in a period-style diary, in ink, ca. 1861-1863. The diaries have been accessioned into the State Archives' Manuscript Group 6, Diaries and Journals Collection.
Twenty-three year old John A. Magee enrolled for military service on August 27, 1861 at Harlensburg, PA. Four days later (August 31), he was mustered into service as a corporal in Company E, 100th PVI at Camp Wilkens, PA. Prior to joining the service, Magee was a farmer, residing in Lawrence County, PA. After re-enlisting on December 28, 1863 at Blains Cross Roads, Virginia, he was transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corps. He was wounded in the foot at Cold Harbor, on June 2, 1864. Following the war he returned home, farmed, taught school, and wrote insurance policies.
John's brother George Magee was also a member of Company E, 100th PVI. He was wounded at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run on August 28, 1862, dying in a Washington D.C. hospital on September 6, 1862.
The earlier of the diaries, written in pencil, includes entries ranging from August 27 – October 20, 1861 and subsequently January 4 – July 17, 1862. The second diary, also written in pencil, spans from September 1, 1863 – August 31, 1864. The transcribed version of the two diaries, written in ink, comprises August 27, 1861 – September 4, 1863.
Itinerant Archivist Program Concludes
It is said that all good things must come to an end, and unfortunately, state Itinerant Archivist Heather Heckman’s work concluded at the end of December. For the past three years she has been improving the management of historical records maintained by Pennsylvania county governments. The program sought to strengthen the archival infrastructure and expand the range of protected and accessible records documenting our collective past.
The State Archives has tried a variety of ways in the past to help alleviate county-level records related issues, including a modest grants program and plenty of advice and encouragement, but these only chipped away at the problem. What was needed was a commitment to on-site assistance. So, with support from an NHRPC grant, Heather was hired to work full-time for up to two months in selected counties.
The initial grant period was so successful an extension was received. This has permitted Heather to visit twenty-two counties in all, almost a third of the state (see listing at the end of this article). Since our last report she has completed work in Clinton, Potter, Huntingdon, and Adams counties. Just as with other sites she has visited, the training on records management, disaster planning, and storage of records Heather provided was much welcomed. Typically each county had specific problems which Heather was asked to address. Some counties had records which could not easily be identified. Others had space utilization issues. In every case, Heather’s talent, expertise, and hands-on approach generated an outpouring of gratitude.
Many counties now have new or expanded long-term plans for records management as a result of Heather’s reports. Though county budget shortfalls may slow implementation of some recommendations, many more will be realized and the appreciation for maintaining and providing access to some of Pennsylvania’s most important documentary heritage will endure.
We join our records-tasked colleagues at the county courthouses in thanking Heather for her work and for proving the concept of an Itinerant Archivist.
The following is a list of the counties Heather assisted, and the time spent at each.
Fayette – April 8-May 30, 2008
Greene – June 2-July 25, 2008
Somerset – July 28-September 14, 2008
Indiana – September 15-November 6, 2008
Blair – November 9, 2008-January 8, 2009
Cambria – January 12-February 3, 2009
Bedford – February 5-March 31, 2009
Lackawanna – April 7-June 2, 2009
Bradford – June 15-July 29, 2009
Susquehanna – July 30-September 24, 2009
Wayne – September 28-November 12, 2009
Wyoming – November 16-December 9, 2009
Monroe – December 14, 2009-February 8, 2010
Carbon – February 9-16, 2010
Northampton – February 16-March 18, 2010
Cumberland – August 24-October 14, 2010
Luzerne – December 28, 2010-March 4, 2011
Northumberland – March 7-April 20, 2011
Clinton – April 26-June 30, 2011
Potter – July 5-August 15, 2011
Huntingdon – August 16-October 19, 2011
Adams – October 19-December 28, 2011
Annual Seminar Returns
PHMC Records Coordinator Training
The State Records Center currently stores 240,000 cartons of records from forty nine agencies. Each agency ships their records to the Center according to a retention and disposition schedule which often includes hundreds of records series. Each series lists the duration for which the records must be retained and where. The schedules need to remain current in order to meet agency business needs. Additionally, agencies need to manage any paper records not stored at the State Records Center as well as electronic records which may include hundreds of information systems and millions of email messages. Sound like a large task? It is – and it often falls on the shoulders of the Agency Records Coordinator. Records Coordinators not only perform the aforementioned tasks, but also provide training for others in their agency.
Records Coordinators are appointed by agency heads. After appointment, many are overwhelmed as they may know little about records management, where to turn for assistance, or what they need to do to manage paper or electronic documents. Fortunately, for the past fifteen years the PHMC has been training Records Coordinators (and their assistants, the Alternate Records Coordinators). Training has evolved over the years and now includes a day and a half of the Records Coordinator’s time. They learn what resources are available, including PHMC staff and expertise, various policies and procedures for records management and the State Archives, how to ship records to the Records Center, as well as how to update their retention and disposition schedules. While some Records Coordinators maintain the position for years, turnover is often high as others move on to other duties and functions.
This year over twenty new Records Coordinators and Alternates received training at the State Records Center. The PHMC is fortunate to have these dedicated liaisons from each agency to work with and continues to provide them the training and expertise they need to do their job well.
Archives Without Tears 2012
At the time of publication, the Archives has only one Archives Without Tears workshop slated for 2012, which will be held at Penn State Harrisburg, Morrison Gallery and Library Classroom 106 in July. The exact date is to be announced.
The workshop lasts two days. The first is spent covering basic archival procedures and principles, beginning with appraisal and accession, continuing through processing and on to institutional promotion/community outreach. The second day commences with disaster preparedness and recovery for records and is followed by an explanation of vital records and their protection. Emergency responses to situations commonly affecting collections will be stressed. In the afternoon, there will be a module on special-media and photograph preservation. Types of photographs will be on display and the maintenance of each will be discussed.
The workshop provides information and reference material for organizations to take control of their historic records and preserve them as well as make researchers aware of them. All are welcome and participation is encouraged across organizational and county lines - a wonderful opportunity to welcome like-minded peers to your organization/facility, foster new relationships, and open dialogue community-wide.
Designed to affordably provide basic archival training to those who maintain historical records, the State Archives began offering the Archives Without Tears (AWOT) workshops in 2009. The initial program was grant funded. However, due to an overwhelming response, the Archives has been fortunate to continue offering AWOT training through the generosity of hosting organizations. Since its inception in 2009, the program has presented 361 individuals from 233 organizations with the knowledge to properly maintain and provide access to their archival collections.
Please contact Josh Stahlman at 717-772-3257, or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or if you would like to discuss hosting a future workshop.
Save the Date!
PHMC's 13th Annual Charter Day will be held Sunday, March 11th, from 12-4 at The State Museum of Pennsylvania. Admission is free and includes numerous attractions such as: the original 1681 charter, that granted the land of Pennsylvania to William Penn; local historical and genealogical organization exhibitions; William Penn and Pennsylvania Jack interpreting Pennsylvania history; free planetarium shows and admission to Curiosity Connection.
The Charter will be on display from March 2 – March 11.
Admission is free for Charter Day, March 11th only. Individuals who need special assistance should call (717) 787-6778 or, for individuals with hearing-related disabilities, the Pennsylvania TDD relay service at (800) 654-5984. For more information on other exhibitions, events and programs at The State Museum, visit www.statemuseumpa.org.
Spring MARAC will be held in Cape May, NJ April 12-14. For more information, see the Spring MARAC website.
Archives Without Tears, will be held in July at Penn State Harrisburg for more information contact Josh Stahlman at 717-772-3257, or email@example.com
The NAGARA/COSA joint meeting will be held July 18-21 in Santa Fe, NM. View the website
The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) is hosting an ongoing series of valuable workshops. For more information, please go to: Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts Program Calendar
2012 PHMC Theme: Land of Penn and Plenty
Wambach on the Web
A recent email inspired a revisitation of the Pete Wambach Web Audio Interface update originally noted& in the Summer 2010 edition of Access Archives. The feedback received follows:
Just wanted to let you know I'm still appreciating the Pete Wambach archives. I interned at a radio station while in high school and I remember those giant records with probably a month's worth of "This is Pennsylvania" on each one.
I am a musician and storyteller and am working on a program for libraries about Pennsylvania stories. These archives are quite inspirational and have given me a number of leads to follow.
Thanks again for making them available,
PS. I'd make some requests, but I wouldn't know which ones to ask for first. They're all good.
The Pete Wambach web page contains selected MP3 files of his radio series "This is Pennsylvania," which aired from 1964 through 1985. The three-minute informative segments that he produced regaled listeners with many little known facts about people, places and things throughout the state. The Archives holds over 2,000 of the original program transcripts and recordings in Manuscript Group 490. Access these files, or read more about Mr. Wambach
The Audio Interface is changed approximately every two to three months and currently features holiday themed clips.
An interactive map illustrating Pennsylvania municipal settlement dates, incorporation dates, and brief county histories was recently added to the Archives' website. View the map
To view municipality incorporation dates and brief county histories for a particular county, hover the cursor over and then left-click the mouse on that county. The data was taken from a 1965 publication entitled Incorporation Dates for Pennsylvania Municipalities, which was produced by the Pennsylvania Department of Internal Affairs.
Record Groups, June—December 2011
RG-10 Records of the Office of the Governor - PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency
-Victims Services Division Program Files, 2000-2002, 2 cubic feet
-STOP Violence Against Women Grant Program Files, 1995-2005, 2 cubic feet
-Various Committee Minutes, 1996-2005, 3 cubic feet
-Chronological File - Program Records and Correspondence, 1997-2002, 4 cubic feet
-Juvenile Advisory Committee Materials, 1992-2000, 2.5 cubic feet
RG-66 Department of Environmental Protection
-Correspondence Received by Secretary, 2005-2006, 2 cubic feet
-Secretary's Signed Correspondence, 2006-2007, 2 cubic feet
RG-39 Pennsylvania Game Commission
-Legal Case Files and Correspondence, 1998-2000, 1 cubic foot
RG-22 Department of Public Welfare
-Secretary's Correspondence, ca. 1990—ca. 2000, 15 cubic feet
Manuscript Groups, June--December 2011
(the below are accretions to existing collections)
MG-5 Deeds and Patents Collection, 0.1 cuft.
-1681 Indenture from William Penn to Israel Brown
MG-6 Diaries & Journals Collection, 0.1 cuft.
-John Gardiner, Jr. Journals of Voyage, Transcripts & Genealogy, 1794-1995
MG-7 Military Manuscripts Collection, 0.15 cuft.
-Muster Roll, Nov. 17, 1777 - Col. Henry Spicker's Battalion, Berks County; Letter from Jacob Morgan to Col. Henry Spicker, July 16, 1778, instructing him to call out various classes of militia at Reading, PA on July 21, 1778 to help defend frontier inhabitants; List of Delinquents in the Battalion commanded by Col. Henry Spicker, Berks County, ca. 1777-1778.
MG-8 Pennsylvania Collection (Miscellaneous), 0.30 cuft.
-The Highlands: "Receipt Book, 1805-18" of George Sheaff, third owner of The Highlands, [a "Placed Property" of the PHMC run by the Highlands Historical Society]; "Release of Lien, 1855" to John D. Sheaff for a Grapery; Copy of "Cash Ledger,1802-06" Anthony Morris, first owner of The Highlands [Original at Winterthur Museum]; Copy of "Day Book, 1794-99" Anthony Morris, [Original at Winterthur Museum]; 35mm Microfilm [Copy] "Diaries/ Journals of Fannie Sheaff, 1870-1893" Wife of fourth owner, John D. Sheaff [Originals at the Highlands Historical Society].
-Booklet - Penn Ways, January, 1929; Booklet - Pennsylvania Day, March 2, 1928
MG-9 Pennsylvania Writers Collection, 3 cuft.
-Research Files of Dr. Ernest "Ernie" Morrison, writer of A City on the Hill. [A book on Harrisburg State Hospital]
MG-11 Map Collection, 0.80 cuft.
-Map(s) of Public Roads in Pennsylvania Counties [49 total] Constructed from actual surveys made under toe direction of the State Highway Department by authority of an Act of Assembly approved May 31, 1911. 1912-1926
-Map of the Delaware River District from Trenton, N.J. to Wilmington Del, [Dept. of Wharves, Docks, and Ferries of the City of Philadelphia, 1918]
-Map of the Girard Estate - Schuylkill & Columbia Counties, City of Philadelphia Trustees - Showing Topography Geology & Location of Collieries, 1899
-Elevation Map of Towns & Collieries in the Southern, Eastern Middle & Western Coal Fields of Pennsylvania, n.d.
-Geologic Map of the Midway Quadrangle, Washington County, 1971
-Historical - Pictorial Map of Pennsylvania, Harvey E. Bair, 1970
-Recreational Areas of the United States under Federal or State Government Including Alaska and Hawaii, ca. 1930
MG-31 Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society Records, .05 cuft.
-Issues of "Pennsylvania Crossings" Vol. 34, No. 3, Vol. 35, No. 1; "Wooden Covered Spans" Vol. 34, No. 1
MG-213 Postcard Collection, 0.01 cuft.
-One color Postcard - titled Liberty on the Susquehanna. It depicts a 1/5 size statue of liberty that was originally placed in the Susquehanna River 25 years ago. On the reverse of the card, appears a USPS cancellation, dated July 2, 2011, commemorating 25th anniversary of the statue in the Susquehanna.
MG-218 Photograph Collection, 0.1 cuft.
-Albumen Prints and Carte de Visite, Hartwell-Thompson Family, 1901
-Misc. Photographs - Slate Mine (Northampton County); Victorian House (Easton); Bethlehem Railroad Station; Pennsylvania Canal; Bethlehem Steel Plant (4)
MG-342 George Howard Earle Papers, 1 cuft.
-Newspaper Press Releases, speeches and correspondence of Governor George H. Earle, 1935-1937
MG-361 Pennsylvania Federation of Music Clubs Collection, 2 cuft.
-Pennsylvania Federation of Music Clubs records, 1938-2005
MG-394 Pennsbury Manor Collection, 0.25 cuft.
-Construction Files of Pennsbury Manor [Sessinghaus & Ostergaard Contractors, Walter H. Fritz & Co. (Plumbing), Bowers Brothers Company (Heating), Walter C. Schopf (Electrical)], 1936-1941
MG-404 Dick Thornburgh Papers, 1 cuft.
-Governor Dick Thorburgh Press Office - News Releases, 1986
MG-406 Robert P. Casey Collection, 0.5 cuft.
-1 Binder of letters, speeches, and newspaper articles of Governor Robert P. Casey's related to abortion laws, policy, etc. with index, 1992-1995