NHPRC Funds Two Major Projects
In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Heritage Society, the Pennsylvania State Archives has been awarded two grants by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
The first is for a $166,298 Basic Processing Grant. This project will create an estimated 2,000 online series descriptions and document shelf locations for 26,000 cubic feet of unprocessed records, as well as establish new accessioning procedures to eliminate future backlogs. The “more product, less process” concept will be embraced and a minimal processing standard will be adopted and become a benchmark for all future accessions. A more representative holdings inventory will be made easily accessible via our website, and entered into an online bibliographic utility. The project will span a two-year period beginning July 1, 2010. Two project archivists will be hired with NHPRC funds to write narrative descriptions and verify inventory information of the targeted series, which will drastically increase the public accessibility of these records.
The second project is an NHPRC State and National Archival Partnership (SNAP) grant, totaling $68,550. This project will run from July 2010 to June 2012 and help continue in part the Itinerant Archivist Project and provide for additional statewide “Archives Without Tears” training workshops. See information about these two programs elsewhere in this issue.
A Message from the State Archivist
Despite budget and staffing cuts over the past year, the Bureau of Archives and History still maintains a strong program. We have had to reset priorities and seek efficiencies. Closing to the public on Tuesdays was one such step, and the State Museum did likewise. A reorganization plan reflecting the reduced staffing was implemented this summer.
While we still proceed with uncertainty and anxiety about possible future budget cuts, we cannot lose our momentum. We will continue our mission to acquire and care for the permanently valuable records of the Commonwealth and manuscripts that document our heritage. This newsletter is filled with excellent examples of the work we continue to do and the steadfast dedication and creativity of staff. Some of our other projects are described below.
A series of meetings were held in early 2010 with government agencies and individuals to streamline transfer of their records to the Archives. Some agencies have lagged in regularly sending records, and some of their record series are not reflected on records retention and disposition schedules. Another initiative relates to restricted agency records, and our goal is to prepare agency-specific MOUs to clarify access procedures. Also, a more systematic and aggressive approach is being implemented to contact high level agency officials regarding transfer of their records to the archives as the Rendell administration comes to an end.
Other steps are also being taken to improve records management and archival programs of the Commonwealth. We have updated a largely obsolete filing manual and replaced it with a succinct records management handbook for state employees. After many delays the handbook was issued in May (click to view), and includes links to a series of records management guidelines on the PHMC web site (click to view guidline links). Plans are being made to provide training based on the handbook.
As of June 1, the web-based Enterprise Records Management System (ERMS), was implemented for mandatory use by all state agencies to request retrievals of their inactive records that are stored at the State Records Center. It will also enable records coordinators to produce reports and better manage their records and their retention and disposition schedules. By November 1, all agencies will be required to use this system, resulting in increased efficiency.
After two years of planning and development, the curriculum for the IPER (Intergovernmental Preparedness for Essential Records) program is approaching its official launch. Funded by FEMA and sponsored by CoSA (Council of State Archivists), IPER consists of two webinars which Pennsylvania and other states will begin to offer in the fall. The first course focuses on identifying essential records and the second on protecting them. In August, three trainers from Pennsylvania, including Jerry Ellis and Josh Stahlman from the State Archives, will travel to Hartford, Connecticut, for instruction on how to teach the courses. Potential audiences will be notified shortly thereafter. This program is in part a response to the Hurricane Katrina experience where many entities had failed to care for vital records necessary for their continued operation. Recovery from disaster is made more difficult if essential records are not identified and appropriately backed up, or plans do not exist to recover and restore information from damaged records. In addition to providing training, IPER includes a website which will identify national and state resources for emergency response.
PHMC may no longer provide grants for local records projects, but we will continue to offer counsel and training for historical organizations throughout the state for records care and preservation, as is evidenced by our “Archives Without Tears” workshops being given this summer.
Finally, we continue to lobby for the quantity and quality of space the Archives needs to store our own records responsibly. The proposed renovation of the archives building, including an expanded search room and new conference and orientation room, will be underway soon. Originally submitted to the Departments of General Services and Labor and Industry in February, 2005, after five years of frustrating delays, it should be in progress by the end of 2010.
1780 Act for Gradual Abolition Exhibited
The Archives displayed the March 1, 1780 document “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” from February 1 - June 20, 2010 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania was the first state to abolish slavery by legislative action (Vermont was the first in 1777 by constitutional provision). The thirteen-page document from the records of the Department of State (RG-26) is iron gall ink on paper, written in engrossed, or large writing. It is signed by John Bayard, Speaker of the Pennsylvania House, and Thomas Paine, Clerk of the General Assembly. This is the same Thomas Paine who wrote the radical pamphlet “Common Sense.”
The Act was displayed as part of the PHMC theme year of “Black History in Pennsylvania: Communities in Common” and was seen by thousands of visitors. On June 16, Dr. Emma Jones Lapsansky-Werner, Professor Emeritus of Haverford University spoke on the significance of the Act with “Opening Doors to a Nation’s Future: Pennsylvania’s Abolition Act of 1780.” On June 19, the Act was also featured during a Pennsylvania Humanities Council “Live and Learn” Weekend.
Thanks to the time of dedicated volunteers and interns, the Pennsylvania State Archives advances its mission to collect, preserve, and make available the permanently valuable records of the Commonwealth. There are currently many volunteer opportunities at the Pennsylvania State Archives. If interested, please contact Josh Stahlman at email@example.com to discuss a priority project that may fit your interests.
Volunteer Maryanne Mescan has been organizing, refoldering, and reboxing the marriage license returns and consents of Columbia County. These records date from 1885 to 1957 and are genealogical gems. They show the details of an ancestor’s marriage - the parents of both parties, maiden names of bride and mothers, and much more. Most records not only provide the birth date and location of the couple but the birthplace of the parents as well.
Maryanne is a graduate of Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg and has recently returned here to live. She is very experienced with the care and maintenance of records having been an office manager and micrographics lab supervisor. Her knowledge of and skill with microfilm and digitization along with paper records means that she has a full understanding of preservation methods. We are grateful for the time she has given to the Archives and know researchers will be equally pleased to have access to Columbia’s marriage licenses.
Despite paid internship funding cuts, the State Archives is privileged to host six unpaid, but outstanding students this summer. Internships are a mutually beneficial opportunity, providing invaluable experience and insight for students, as well as a valuable resource for the Archives.
Kristy Adams, a student of Clarion’s MLIS program, processed MG-466, Records of the Pennsylvania Citizens for Better Libraries. In addition to this, she served as a page on various days, learned about conservation methods used on the Civil War Muster Out Roll Project, and accompanied archivists on a records pick-up at the Scotland School for Veterans' Children.
Samantha Edmiston, a junior studying History/Archaeology at Millersville University, is working through over 300 reels of motion picture film ranging from 1948 - 1976. The films, part of RG-23, Department of Public Welfare, include a number of reels with no Pennsylvania significance. Samantha is sorting the films into those which will be sent to relevant organizations, and those which will be maintained in the Archives’ newly acquired cold storage unit. She is also compiling an updated listing of the historical/genealogical facilities throughout the state. Additionally, Samantha spends one day per week in the PHMC staff library assisting with technical preparation of library books and periodicals, reference, collection development, interlibrary loan, displays and signage.
Alex Russell, History major, Classics minor at the University of New Hampshire is processing "The Iron Soldier" and "Keystone News", from RG-19. These official monthly newsletters document the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the National Guard, from training in Camp Shelby, MS to the battleground in the Al-Anbar Province of Iraq and highlight the pressure on soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Amanda Snyder, a senior student of History at Cedarville University, is processing MG-453, records of the J. Horace McFarland Company. These bound volumes include account ledgers, receipt books, and otherwise document McFarland’s premier horticultural publishing company, which was based in Harrisburg. Amanda also spends one day per week in the PHMC staff library assisting with technical preparation of library books and periodicals, reference, collection development, interlibrary loan, displays and signage.
Madeline Williams, a History and Psychology Junior at Swathmore College, processed two accessions - one for the State Athletic Commission and one for M. Harvey Taylor Papers. The State Athletic Commission deals primarily with the regulation of boxing, wrestling, and mixed martial arts, both at the amateur and professional levels from 1956-1999. Currently Maddie is processing the 2001-2002 Records of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, from RG-51.
Andrew Wilson is working with Manuscript Group (MG) 514- Rupp Family Papers, creating new series and organizational groups, for legal documents, bank records, letters, survey maps, etc. Andrew is a senior majoring in History and Statistics at Penn State University.
New SHRAB Members
In March 2010, the State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) welcomed new members James Gerencser, Susan Hamburger, and June Lloyd. The new members are filling vacancies left by departing members Leon Stout (21 years of service on the Board), Anita Andrick (8 years), and Michael Gabriel (4 years). The appointments have once again brought the board to its full compliment of eleven members.
James Gerencser is the College Archivist and manager of the Archives and Special Collections Department of the Dickinson College Library, Carlisle.
Susan Hamburger is the Manuscripts Cataloging Librarian at Penn State University, University Park.
June Lloyd is a consultant, local history columnist for the York Sunday News, and Librarian Emerita of the York County Heritage Trust Library and Archives, York.
SHRAB operates under federal regulations governing the National Historical Publication and Records Commission (NHPRC) and serves as the central advisory body for historical records planning within the state. Its mission is to foster the preservation and accessibility of historically valuable records and to promote public awareness and appreciation of this enduring legacy. SHRAB carries out its mission by encouraging institutions to apply for NHPRC grants, developing advisory services to improve historical records programs, identifying sources of funding and support, promoting cooperation and partnerships, and developing educational programs. Members of the Board are appointed by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. For more information on SHRAB, please visit www.phmc.state.pa.us and click on PA State Archives or contact David W. Shoff of the State Archives Division at 717-783-5796.
Itinerant Archivist Update
Itinerant Archivist Project Extended: A recent request for funding from NHPRC has been granted to extend the highly successful Itinerant Archivist program for another year, 2010-2011. In past issues of Access Archives we have followed the travels and travails of our Itinerant Archivist, Heather Heckman. Heather was hired as part of a program designed to determine the effectiveness of placing an archivist full-time for up to two months with counties that need help with managing their records. As part of an NHPRC re-grant project, Heather worked in seven counties in the southwest part of the state for a year and then turned her attention to eight counties in the northeast. When last reported on she had been hard at work in the area that overlies the Marcellus Shale deposits!
Heather continued work in Wayne, Wyoming, Monroe, Carbon, and Northampton counties in late 2009-2010. Each county has different needs, both immediate and long-term, and Heather was able to provide valuable assistance. Despite these differences, Heather also saw that there were many common issues to be tackled among the counties and that everyone could benefit from detailed training in records management. They gained perspective about storage methods and space requirements for inactive records, those with temporary value as well as the historically important. Other areas addressed included disaster planning as well as the identification and protection of vital records.
At the end of March 2010, Heather completed the last of her field work in Northampton County and submitted recommendations which will assist the county as it considers its options for future space utilization.
With advice from the SHRAB, applications for assistance from interested counties will be evaluated for inclusion in the program’s upcoming year and based upon the Board’s recommendations Heather will be employed to work with at least five more counties. Any county that has not yet been involved, and would like to take advantage of this free program, contact Susan Hartman at: (717) 787-3913 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seeking Asylum at the Archives
Editor’s Note: Anne Parsons, a PhD candidate in History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, spent March 31–June 3 researching State Archives holdings for her dissertation. She was kind enough to present the following thoughts on her experience. Comments can be directed to: email@example.com
Our Brothers’ Keepers: Pennsylvania’s Mental Asylums and Prisons
The world of mental asylums and prisons was entirely different sixty years ago than it is today. In 1950, Pennsylvania’s Department of Welfare supervised about 45,000 people in its mental asylums, but only about 8,000 in its prisons. Sixty years later, the state government’s role has reversed. The Department of Public Welfare now primarily oversees mental health services in the community with a few thousand people in its mental institutions. On the other hand, the Department of Corrections has mushroomed, and today has custody of about 49,000 prisoners. In my dissertation, I study how the politics of de-institutionalization interacted with the politics of the growing prison system. While the correlation has not always been direct, it offers a new perspective on the sea-change in government responsibility between 1945 and 1990.
Over the past few months, I have researched the period from 1945 to 1970 at the Pennsylvania State Archives, which provided invaluable materials. Most importantly, the collections at the State Archives revealed that the 1960s brought a de-institutionalization not only in Pennsylvania’s mental asylums, but also in its prisons. In the decade after World War II, politicians and the public had a renewed confidence that large institutions like mental asylums and prisons could rehabilitate people. Between 1945 and 1960, the Pennsylvania Legislature appropriated huge sums of money to construct more buildings and beds, and the number of those institutionalized reached its highest point. With new innovations in psychiatry, however, the optimism in distant asylums faltered in the 1960s, and state officials implemented new programs to rehabilitate the mentally disabled in the community. Mental health policymakers also celebrated smaller facilities like halfway houses and treatment centers, which offered more individual care. My research has revealed that these critical changes affected not only mental health, but also correctional policy-making.
The collections of the Governor’s Justice Commission and of Governors Scranton and Shafer at the State Archives tell a fascinating story of how the optimism in community rehabilitation and small institutions permeated penal policies. Crime rose in Pennsylvania in the 1960s and policymakers responded by reforming prisons, which they called "factories of crime." In 1965, a Joint State Government Commission task force advised that Pennsylvania not build any more maximum security prisons and instead recommended that the state put money into small, minimum-security agricultural and forestry camps. Subsequently, corrections officials introduced pre-release centers, furloughs, half-way houses, and work-release programs, all reflecting the new concept that small, community-based facilities could best rehabilitate people. In the 1970s, the trajectory of these state institutions parted ways, as mental asylums de-institutionalized and people lost faith in community-based corrections. In the wake of recent exponential prison expansion, we have forgotten this moment of community-based corrections. Fortunately, the State Archives has wisely preserved this history by conserving the associated documentation.
Archives Without Tears 2010
Archives Without Tears (AWOT), the practical two-day workshop for those who work with historical records, is again offered in the summer of 2010. It provides information and reference material for organizations to take control of their historic records, preserve them and increase researcher awareness. It is being offered at the following venues:
July 21-22, The Somerset Historical Society, 10649 Somerset Pike, Somerset, PA.
July 27-28, Penn State Harrisburg, Heindel Library, 351 Olmsted Drive, Middletown, PA.
Day One is spent covering basic archival procedures and principles, appraisal and accessioning, processing and institutional promotion/community outreach. Day Two features disaster preparedness and recovery for records; vital records and their protection, followed by special-media and photograph preservation. Registration for both days is $25; for one day $15, which includes lunch.
The Erie Maritime Museum hosted an AWOT workshop June 22-23, at The Admiral Room, Blasco Library, which was attended by 38 individuals representing 23 organizations. The program continues to receive accolades and tentative arrangements are progressing to conduct workshops in 2011 at Penn State Harrisburg, Bradford County Historical Society, Beaver County Historical Research & Landmarks Foundation and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
At publication the AWOT program has reached a total of 147 attendees, representing 94 institutions. Primary attendance has been comprised of small historical societies and academic/special libraries, but also includes businesses, government offices, and stalwarts such as the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
For more information, please contact Josh Stahlman at 717-772-3257, or Jostahlman@state.pa.us.
Archives to exhibit Lumber Images
Wood on Glass: the Lumber Industry Photographs of William T. Clarke will open at the State Museum of Pennsylvania on November 10, 2010. The exhibit utilizes about 30 of the 450 known glass negatives of lumber region photographer William T. Clarke (1859-1930). Most of these negatives are housed at the State Archives as part of the records of the Department of Forests and Waters (RG-6).
Clarke, from Rochester, NY was hired by various lumber companies to take images of their facilities and camps in north central Pennsylvania between ca. 1880 - 1917. The exhibit will run until May 2011, and will be available to travel to other venues after that date. For more information contact the State Museum at (717) 787-4980, 300 North Street, Harrisburg, Pa, or visit their website at: www.statemuseumpa.org
Charter Day 2010
"Radically awesome!" was a young visitor’s comment regarding the original 1681 Pennsylvania Charter, displayed at the State Museum during Heritage Week, March 12-19, 2010. Charter Day, March 14, was the highlight of the week, when all PHMC historic sites and museums offered free admission. The Charter was the star of the show, attracting a record 1,067 visitors. William Penn himself (William C. Kashatus) was on hand to explain the historic document’s significance while archivists elaborated on its conservation and care. Other highlights included storyteller Pennsylvania Jack (Jack Graham), the Victorian Dance Ensemble, and the Institute for Cultural Partnerships’ genealogical workshop about tracing genetic diseases in families, "Does it Run in the Family?"
Save the Date!
The 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 (SAA) will take place August 10-15, 2010 at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. Visit the SAA website at www.archivists.org for more information.
Civil War Research Workshop Researching your Civil War ancestor? Want to preserve the records you have? Join us at the State Archives Saturday October 9, from 10:00 to Noon for a free workshop! Archivists will provide guidance and advice on researching the Civil War records at the State Archives and on the Internet; and offer tips on preserving your family's historical records. A brief behind the scenes tour is also included. The event is free, but reservations are required. To register, and for more information, contact the Pennsylvania State Archives, at (717) 772-3257; firstname.lastname@example.org
Pennsylvania Historical Association PHA’s annual meeting will be held October 14-16, at Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove. For more information visit the PHA website at: www.pa-history.org
Pennsylvania Library Association
PaLA’s annual conference will be held October 24-27, 2010 at the Lancaster County Convention Center, Marriott Lancaster at Penn Square, Lancaster, PA. For more information visit their website at: www.palibraries.org
Fall MARAC in Harrisburg
On November 11 - 13, 2010, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) will be holding its fall meeting in Harrisburg. The last MARAC meeting in Harrisburg was in 1985. The meeting will be in lieu of the annual PHMC Archives and Records Management Seminar normally held in Harrisburg at this time of year.
The fall program sessions elaborate on the theme, "Politics of Archives", with topics such as, "Internal Advocacy for Your Archives," and "Advocating Downstream." Several sessions discuss government records, as well as special media, open records, and placement and acquisition of legislative and congressional papers. Also offered is a grant clinic for those seeking funding, but desire technical assistance and a one-on-one with those that fund or are experts in grant writing.
Kathleen Roe, Director of Operations, New York State Archives, is the Plenary Speaker. She will discuss her vigilant campaign to get Congress to fund historical repositories through "Partnership for the American Historical Record" (PAHR). Friday’s Luncheon Speaker is Jackson Taylor, author of "The Blue Orchard." Based on the true story of his grandmother who lived in Harrisburg, Taylor’s novel evolved from hundreds of interviews and newspaper research from 1890 to 1960. Taylor is the Associate Director of The New School's Graduate Writing Program in New York.
The state Capitol rotunda is the scene of the Friday evening reception. Tours will be available during the reception.
We hope you can join us in Harrisburg! For more information on the conference, please check the MARAC website at: http://www.marac.info/mc/page.do?sitePageId=93941
Archivists on the Go!
March 9, Jonathan Stayer spoke about Pennsylvania’s Civil War conscientious objectors at the Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning at Landis Homes, Lititz, PA
March 20, Steve Noel and Linda Ries displayed original Civil War Muster Out Rolls at the annual Civil War Preservation Ball held in the state capitol building and sponsored by the Victorian Dance Ensemble.
April 10, Jonathan Stayer spoke to the York County Heritage Trust’s Second Saturday Series in York, PA on Camp Security, a revolutionary war prisoner of war camp in York.
April 20, Aaron McWilliams and Jonathan Stayer were featured as guests on WITF Radio’s Smart Talk, speaking about genealogy at the State Archives. Click here to listen.
May 7, Rich Saylor was recently featured as a guest on WITF Radio’s Smart Talk discussing Pennsylvania and the Civil War, with Civil War scholars Ed Bearss and Ted Alexander. Click here to listen.
May 8, Linda Ries spoke to the York County Heritage Trust’s Second Saturday Series in York, PA on Preserving Family Photograph Collections.
June 9, Rich Saylor gave a presentation about Pennsylvania and the Civil War at the Dallastown Area Historical Society. The talk had three themes: Anti-war and Reconstruction Sentiment in Pennsylvania; Soldiers to Governors (six PA Civil War veterans who became Governor of Pennsylvania); and the African-American Experience in Pennsylvania during the Civil War.
June 24, Jerry Ellis presented on "Land Records Usage at the State Archives" to the Susquehanna Trails Genealogy Club in York, PA.
Featured Web Updates
The State Archives has recently added three new web pages of scanned images and digital audio recordings to its website. These include the Warrantee Township Maps, the Melish-Whiteside Maps and selected recordings of Pete Wambach. The warrantee township maps provide information relative to the first private land owners for tracts in selected townships and counties across the state. Warrant, survey, and patent data are included for each specific lot. Click here to view these scanned maps in PDF format. .
The Melish-Whiteside maps, based upon actual county surveys, were the first official set of county maps produced by the Commonwealth. Created between 1816 and 1821, they include information such as township lines, municipality names, geographic features, surface features, structures, selected property owners, and roads and distances. Click here to view these PDF files.
The website also features selected MP3 files of Pete Wambach’s radio series “This is
(RG=Record Group; MG=Manuscript Group; MF=Microfilm; cu. ft.=cubic feet)
RG-20, Department of General Services
Papers of Secretary Walter Baran, 1979-1987, 10 cu.ft.
RG-23, Department of Public Welfare
Administrative Correspondence, 1999-2009, 23 cu.ft.
RG-26, Department of State
Correspondence of Secretary, 1997-2004, 7 cu.ft.
RG-30, Pennsylvania State Police
Office of Chief Counsel, General Litigation Files, 1979—present, 5 cu.ft.
RG-47, Records of County Governments
Mercer County Clerk of Courts Criminal Records, 1804-1911, 24 cu. ft.
Wyoming County Tax Duplicates, 1914-1945, 36 cu.ft.
RG-65, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Project 500 Development Files, 1968-1971, 33 cu. ft.
RG-70, Office of the Attorney General
Anti-Trust Case Files, 1995, 24 cu. ft.
Correspondence, 1997, 9 cu.ft.
MG-513, Susquehanna River Basin Commission Records
Maps, ca. 1970, 133 tubes
MG-514 Rupp Family Papers
Records, 1805-2005, 8.5 cu.ft.