A Message From State Archivist David Haury
Many states faced severe fiscal issues this year which impacted their historical and archival programs. The final budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania reduced the appropriation for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) by $15.7 million or 43%. The cuts necessary to implement this budget were exacerbated by the lengthy delay in passage of the state budget until October. Overall, PHMC lost 48 staff during summer 2009 (23 furloughed and 25 through attrition or retirements) and another 85 staff were furloughed in late November (47 of these full-time and 38 part-time). Over the past five years the full-time staff of PHMC has fallen from approximately 350 to just over 200 employees.
During this same time period the Bureau of Archives and History, within PHMC, has dropped from 64 full-time and eight part-time staff to 34 full-time and three part-time staff. Ten of the remaining staff are now fully supported through earned income, including a new fee on agencies using the State Records Center which will begin January 1, 2010. Others are supported by publications sales, fees for duplicating documents for patrons and microfilm inspection fees. The bureau’s operating budget has also been cut in half.
The staff which left the archives through retirements or furloughs this past year had well over 250 years of combined experience in service to the Commonwealth. Their expertise will be missed. A number of programs and activities of the Pennsylvania State Archives are being cut back or eliminated. Effective December 1, the Archives’ Search Room began closing Tuesdays as well as Mondays. After 32 years, the Annual Conference on Black History in Pennsylvania has been cancelled and is being reevaluated with the possibility of being revived at some point in the future on a different scale or format. The Scholars in Residence Program and the paid student internship program have also been eliminated. Microfilming of local government records will be severely curtailed or eliminated. Other services are still under review.
While the losses have been great and initiatives to better serve the public have been scaled back, the Pennsylvania State Archives continues to operate with a highly professional staff dedicated to preserving and making accessible the records of the Commonwealth.
Host an "Archives Without Tears" Workshop
Due to an overwhelming response from participants, the Pennsylvania State Archives plans to continue offering "Archives Without Tears" (AWOT) training. The initial program was grant funded--but if your organization can provide a venue and an audience, the State Archives will provide the instructors and materials (free of charge!), as well as assist with publicity and arrangements to offer this basic archival training in your area.
The summer 2009 issue of Access Archives described these well-received workshops which occurred in May and June at three sites around the state. Designed to provide basic archival skills to those who maintain historical records, the two-day workshops were sponsored by county historical societies.
Day One is spent covering basic archival procedures and principles, beginning with appraisal and accession, continuing through processing and on to institutional promotion/community outreach. Day Two 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 are stressed. In the afternoon, there is a module on special-media and photograph preservation. Many types of photographs are displayed and the maintenance of each discussed.
To adequately serve attendees, a venue should comfortably seat from between 25 to 50 people with workspace for each. Table arrangement allowing interaction among attendees has been found to add to the experience. Lunches can be a simple sandwich-and-chips-boxed lunch; we recommend charging a nominal fee to cover catering expenses.
This workshop will provide information and reference material for organizations to take control of their historic records, preserve them and increase researcher awareness. Participation is encouraged across organizational and county lines; this is a fantastic opportunity to welcome likeminded peers to your organization/facility, foster new relationships, and open dialogue community-wide. Unavailable records are memory lost! For more information, please contact Josh Stahlman at 717-772-3257, or Jostahlman@state.pa.us.
Volunteering for Veterans
Past issues of Access Archives highlighted volunteers who have assisted with archival materials. This work can take many forms, such as unfolding and flat filing records from bygone tri-fold systems, removing unwanted materials, assuring correct arrangement, cataloging and processing—all of which are constants at the State Archives.
The assistance of people such as Allison McKay is a tremendous help with these duties, which would otherwise inevitably become further backlogged. Professionally, Allison is a surgical nurse. In her capacity as an Archives volunteer, she previously organized Adams County criminal records and is now helping arrange the records of the “greatest generation,” that is, World War II Veteran’s Applications for Compensation given by the Commonwealth in the years following the war - 3,082 cartons of them!
The original records were contained in highly acidic file folders made of cheap paperboard commonly used during the war. Allison is placing them in acid-free folders and containers, reducing overall file size for a projected space savings of 1,000 cubic feet. In just two months Allison has processed over 32 cubic feet.
Pennsylvania’s bonus records are more than an interesting sidelight to a veteran’s service. These records document the monies paid by the state of Pennsylvania to citizens who served honorably during the war. In 1973, a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis destroyed most service records of an entire generation. Providing even the most basic of benefits to our veterans requires proof of service. For the many that lost their records, the bonus compensation papers at the State Archives may be the only remaining evidence of their service. The Archives receives requests daily for evidence of service from individuals, county veteran’s affairs offices, survivors and funeral homes. By preserving and organizing these decades-old records for retrival, the State Archives fulfills its mission and serves our veterans and their families.
William Neel Collection
The William Neel Collection was donated to the State Archives in July 2009 by Arthur M. and Phyllis A. Cooper of Orchard Park, New York. This collection (Manuscript Group 511) consists of 326 items relating to Captain William Neel's service in four different Pennsylvania units during the course of the Civil War (8th, 105th, 206th PVI Regiments, and the 2nd Battalion).
Neel (Neil, Niel, and Neal are variant spellings) was born circa 1837 in the vicinity of Punxsutawney, Jefferson County. He received a wound in the right breast at the Battle of Bull Run in August 1862. He went on to become a colonel in the Ninth Division, 13th Regiment of Infantry of the Pennsylvania National Guard after the war. He died in Hamilton, Jefferson County, on November 20, 1904.
The documents include muster rolls, discharge certificates, monthly returns, quarterly returns, clothing requisitions, invoices for supplies, receipts for supplies, a travel pass, general correspondence, and special and general orders. Personal letters include those between Neel and his wife Sarah in Perrysville (now Hamilton), and between Sarah and her brother A. H. Mitchell. There are also a number of military-related volumes including state Adjutant General's Annual Reports from 1865-1875 (not inclusive).
Before transfer to the State Archives, this collection had been passed down in family hands from the time of the Civil War. The Archives is honored to be the recipient of Captain Neel’s records.
The Pennsylvania Public Television Network (PPTN) Commission, a victim of the state budget turmoil, submitted 38 cubic feet of records to the State Archives in July, 2009. Created in 1968, the purpose of the PPTN was to administer the Commonwealth's many public television stations. The records include copies of numerous programs funded by PPTN.
One such program provided citizens information on the Commonwealth response to the 1976 swine flu scare. That February, a soldier at Fort Dix, New Jersey died of a mysterious new disease, a form of influenza called the “swine flu.” Fear spread that the United States was on the verge of a new epidemic and the government responded with a hastily established vaccine program.
In October, the vaccine was ready. Within days, however, several of the vaccinated fell seriously ill. On Oct. 12, three elderly people in the Pittsburgh area suffered heart attacks and died within hours of receiving the injection. This led to the suspension of the program in Pennsylvania. By December, the inoculation program was cancelled and the epidemic never materialized.
To view a portion of this PPTN broadcast, produced approximately August or September of 1976:
Quicktime format: http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/Portal/media/SwineFlu320x240.movWindows Media format: http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/Portal/media/SwineFlu320x240.wmv
2009 Fall Interns
Uchenna Nwoke is a Diversity Internship stipend recipient. She is a senior at Temple University, studying Anthropology and African American Studies. Uchenna is a founding member of the Black Student Union and has worked with the staff at Temple’s Charles L. Blockson African-American Library. This fall, Uchenna processed the Lillian L. Ball Family Photograph Collection, which contains images from Miss Ball’s School of Music and Elocution that operated in Harrisburg during the 1930s. She also processed several new additions to the Pennsylvania Railroad Collection (MG-286). Additionally, she assisted Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania volunteer David Rose in computerizing the Drawing Directories of the Baldwin Locomotive Company. Uchenna has also helped produce bioographies of Civil War U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) from Pennsylvania, which will ultimately be placed on the PHMC Web site and utilized for a USCT Grand Review reenactment in Harrisburg, planned for November 2010.
Faith McCarrick is a senior at Franklin and Marshall College, majoring in History with a minor in French. Last fall, she completed a semester abroad studying in Bath, England, with Advanced Studies in England with University College, Oxford. This fall, she processed the Donald R. Brown Collection (MG-445), which consists of postcards and pamphlets pertaining to and collected by The Institute of American Deltiology in Myerstown, over which Brown presides. She is also processing MG-109, the George W. Shultz Collection, learning preservation techniques, converting files so that they can be easily transferred to a new system and assisting archives patrons. After graduation, she plans to continue working in public history and share her passion for history with others.
MARAC in Harrisburg!
Mark your calendars for November 11-13, 2010, when the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) rolls into Harrisburg. The conference will be held in lieu of the State Archives’ annual Archives and Records Management Seminar. The theme is The Politics of Archives, and will be held at the Harrisburg Hilton, in the heart of Downtown Harrisburg (conference room rate $119).
The program is in development, but confirmed features include lunch speaker Penn State Harrisburg Professor Michael Barton on the Harrisburg City Archives and his local history research. Sessions include working with boards, interns and volunteers, a resume and grant clinic, as well as a “Web 2.0 how-to” clinic.
For more information, contact the Local Arrangements Committee: Co-Chairs Jesse Teitelbaum (email@example.com) and Pam Whitenack (firstname.lastname@example.org); and the Program Committee: Co-Chairs Cindy Bendroth (CBENDROTH@state.pa.us) and Lindsey Loeper (email@example.com)
Archivists on the Go!
Jerry Ellis gave a presentation on “Preparing for my Visit to the State Archives” to the Susquehanna County Historical Society, Montrose, PA August 25 and to the Essex, MD Family History Conference September 12.
He also spoke to the York County Heritage Trust on "Preservation of Personal Records" August 8; and at the
Albright College Municipal Records Management Workshop on "Disaster Planning and Vital Records Protection" November 19.
Susan Hartman gave presentations on records management to PSATS (PA State Association of Township Supervisors) Solicitors’ Workshop; to CCAP’s information technology quarterly meeting; and to Allegheny Co. & Western PA Assoc. of Twp. Commissioners.
Linda Ries spoke on “The Autochromes of J. Horace McFarland” at the triennial Photohistory XIV Conference in Rochester, NY October 17.
Josh Stahlman spoke on local history and the State Archives to the Punxsutawney Historical and Genealogical Society, Punxsutawney, PA, September 19.
Jonathan Stayer spoke on “Pennsylvania Land Records” to the South Central Pennsylvania DAR Regents Club Meeting, Camp Hill, PA October 27.
Save the Date!
2010 Heritage Week, celebrating the 329th birthday of
The MARAC Spring 2010 meeting will be in Wilmington, DE, April 29-May 1, with the theme “Outside the Archival Box: Cultural Heritage Collaborations” at the Doubletree Hotel, Downtown Wilmington $149. For more details go to http://www.marac.info
Archives and Records/DC 2010. There will be a joint annual meeting of the Council of State Archivists (CoSA), the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), and the Society of American Archivists (
In lieu of the 2010 Archives and Records Management Seminar, the Pennsylvania State Archives will be partnering with MARAC to bring MARAC’s Fall seminar to
The Pennsylvania Historical Association (
The annual ARMA International conference will be
Scholars in Residence at PHA
The End of an Era
The Pennsylvania Historical Association’s annual meeting was held October 22—24, 2009 at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. PHA offers an opportunity for historically-minded peers, both professional and academic to share in current research and developments. In 2008, PHA and the Scholars in Residence Program forged a collaboration resulting in the annual Scholars in Residence Roundtable. The roundtable allowed program participants to share their work with conference attendees and further to publish an article pertaining to their research in PHA’s academic journal, Pennsylvania History. Scholars who spoke at the 2009 PHA Scholars in Residence Roundtable are:
April Beisaw, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Heidelberg University, analyzed Susquehannock burial field records while at The State Museum of Pennsylvania through the Scholars program. She discussed the significance of her work with the PHMC including publication in a highly respected journal within the field.
Julian Chambliss, Assistant Professor of History at Rollins College, discussed his research on Harrisburg native, J. Horace McFarland’s significant, and somewhat overlooked contributions to the national “City Beautiful” movement, which continues its relevance to date.
J. Adam Rodgers, stressed the importance of interpretation as he researched the stories behind soldiers as they returned home from the Civil War and their readjustment to civilian life.
To see these, and other past Scholars’ final reports, click here.
The Scholars in Residence program was conceived in the early 1990s by then PHMC executive director, Dr. Brent Glass, as a means of encouraging the use and interpretation of PHMC collections, while mutually benefiting history professionals by subsidizing their research. It endured for nearly 16 years and represented a true bonding between history professionals and scholars.
Regrettably, the Scholars in Residence Program became a casualty of the ongoing state budgetary crisis; there are no plans to revive the program at this time.
Archivist to Author
Archivist Rich Saylor Authors Book On Civil War Governors
Archivist Rich Saylor Authors Book On Civil War Governors
Soldiers to Governors: Pennsylvania’s Civil War Veterans Who Became State Leaders, by archivist Rich Saylor, offers an in-depth and sometimes intimate portrait of six of Pennsylvania’s first eight post-Civil War governors who were veterans of the American Civil War.
Spanning from 1867 to 1907, this streak of Republicans served as the Keystone State’s chief executives from the election of John White Geary in 1866 to Samuel W. Pennypacker’s final day in office in January 1907. Even though these individuals rose to great political height and power, they did not forget their combat memories or neglect their old military comrades. Their war experiences shaped their vision and beliefs. Through it all, they remained committed to the Republic they had helped preserve on the bloody battlefields of the Civil War.
Rich has weaved together these first-person narratives and detailed images of artifacts to produce a cohesive account of these men, their wartime experiences, and their legacies. Illustrated with artifacts and records from The State Museum of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Archives, this publication is a true keepsake for Civil War history aficionados, novices to this era of Pennsylvania history and collectors.
Rich was featured in the Summer 2009 edition of Pennsylvania Heritage. The book will become available in early 2010 and can be purchased through www.pabookstore.com
(RG=Record Group; MG=Manuscript Group; MF=Microfilm; cu. ft.=cubic feet)
RG-16, Department of Labor and Industry
Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board
Portraits of Labor Relations Board Chairmen from 1937–1991, 1 box
RG-22, Department of Education
Scranton State School for the Deaf
Records of the School, 1883-2009, 14 cu. ft.
RG-32, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
Board Meeting Minutes, 1986-2003, 38 cu.ft.
Licensing Applications and Commitment Minute Books, 1986-2003, 29 cu. ft.
RG-47, County Governments
Adams County, Clerk of Courts
Miscellaneous Criminal Records, 1813-1943; Miscellaneous Quarter Sessions Records, 1900-1918; and Criminal Records, 1802-1911, 7.3 cu. ft.
Dauphin County, Prothonotary’s Office
Records, 1785-1941: Argument List; Opinion Book, W.M. Hargest President Judge; Tavern Licenses, 2.0 cu.ft.
RG-52, Department of Transportation
Right-of-Way and Real Estate File (Central Office, Districts), 1950-1959,
RG-60, Pennsylvania Public Television Network
Administrative and Subject Files; Press Releases; Reports & Publications; News Clippings; Newsletters, 1970-2008, 1 cu. ft.
RG-70, Office of the Attorney General
Office of the Press Secretary
Press Releases, 1981-1997, 12 cu. ft.
MG-218, Photograph Collection (addition)
Frederick Gutekunst Panoramic Photograph of Pennsylvania Railroad's Rockville Bridge near Harrisburg, ca. 1880, 1item
MG-511, William Neel Collection
Civil War and PA National Guard Papers, 1861-1878, 326 items (see collection feature this issue)