Access Archives: The Newsletter of the Pennsylvania State Archives.

Winter 2011

A Message from State Archivist David Haury

State Archivist David Haury who was named an SAA Fellow in August of 2010. He is one of few archivists to serve on both the SAA and CoSA governing councils.
State Archivist David Haury who was named an SAA Fellow in August of 2010. He is one of few archivists to serve on both the SAA and CoSA governing councils.


The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) updates its strategic plan every three years, and that process is underway now.  This cycle of planning is linked to the preparation of documentation about PHMC’s programs for incoming Governor Corbett’s transition team.  Each bureau is outlining its mission, responsibilities, and priorities with special attention to the statutory basis for mandated activities.  The Administrative Code of 1929 explicitly requires PHMC approval before agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction may dispose of state records.  The records designated as archival by PHMC must either be retained by the agency or transferred to the State Archives.  The History Code outlines our more general responsibilities to obtain and preserve Commonwealth records.  While the legal basis for the work of the Pennsylvania State Archives is well established, unfortunately the specific duties and authority could be much more clearly defined and the laws should be updated.  Language referencing the State Archives itself is not to be found in Pennsylvania’s laws, and this should be remedied.


 Budget cuts and staffing losses over the past couple years have resulted in a narrowing of the work of the Bureau of Archives and History.  Most recently the Publications and Sales Division was moved from the Bureau of Archives and History to the Bureau of Management Services.  This loss includes the agency webmaster, the State Bookstore, Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine, and also the design and publication of agency promotional materials as well as historical monographs.  The bureau is now much more narrowly focused on the state’s records management and archival programs.  In some ways this represents a return to the original intent of the bureau when it began as the Division of Public Records in the State Library in 1903.  Fifty years ago the bureau had evolved to have far more historians than archivists and focused primarily on research and publications.  Now the bureau has no staff classified as historians or editors remaining.  So the program has indeed been pared down to its original and core function as the State Archives.  Records management and operating the State Records Center are approaching nearly twenty years of PHMC implementation and thus are relatively recent program additions.  We will no doubt be examining and justifying our priorities and programs for the foreseeable future in response to the ongoing pressures on the state’s budget.

Penn's Great Law on Exhibit at State Museum

As part of the PHMC’s 2011 theme, William Penn’s Legacy: Religious and Spiritual Diversity, the Pennsylvania State Archives will be displaying the original “Great Law” of December 7, 1682, written by William Penn himself at the State Museum of Pennsylvania from March 11 to June 26, 2011.

The Great Law, nine pages on parchment, is a series of statutes enacted by Pennsylvania's first legislature that met in Upland, now Chester, on December 7-10, 1682. William Penn supervised their preparation before he arrived in America on October 30 of that year.  It contains a number of significant provisions, especially the first, which declared that there was to be no official religion in the new colony of Pennsylvania.  This clause is often cited as one of the foundations of the separation of church and state in America. Pennsylvania was the only large political entity at the time in the western world to offer this degree of religious liberty.  Other provisions reflect Penn’s and the Assembly’s Quaker philosophy: no capitol punishment, no work on the Sabbath, and humane treatment of prisoners.

Additionally, the Penn Family bible used at Governor Tom Corbett's swearing in, is on display with the Great Law. The bible is on loan from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and will be removed from the exhibit at the end of March.


Basic Processing Grant Begins

Project Archivists Amy Noll and Amanda Ashour
Project Archivists Amy Noll and Amanda Ashour

The State Archives has received a $166,298 Grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to provide for minimal processing of over 29,000 cubic feet of unprocessed government records among its holdings.

The grant will address four objectives: assign Series Titles to unprocessed Records; write Series Descriptions for these; confirm their shelf location; and streamline the appraisal and accessioning process.  To accomplish this, two archivists, Amanda Ashour from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Amy Noll, from the Lancaster County Historical Society, have been hired, primarily for the writing of series descriptions. 

Through this grant, the State Archives is embracing the “More Product, Less Process” concept and minimally processing the large backlog that has accumulated over the past 35 years.  We no longer have the time or staff to perform “traditional” processing, i.e. organize, arrange and place each series into acid free folders and boxes.  With the new strategy, materials will be described, placed into acid free containers if needed, and an inventory created at the container level.  The new series descriptions and inventories will be placed on the State Archives web site, and eventually into an online international bibliographic utility.  

The grant will run from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2012, and will be under the direction of David Shoff, Chief of the State Archives Division. Linda Ries is the Project Coordinator.  As of December 2010, over 200 records series have been examined, and 140 series have been described for placement on the web site.  Several meetings have been held between the Appraisal and Arrangement and Description Sections regarding preparing a processing manual and create new strategies for accessioning. 


Search Room Renovations

The Archives' Search Room in various stages of demolition and reconstruction
The Archives' Search Room in various stages of demolition and reconstruction

After six years of waiting, the Archives closed its Search Room on October 18th to begin renovations, which include a more open floor plan, additional seating, increased security, and computer stations to increase records access. Additionally, a larger vestibule and automatic doors will accommodate those with disabilities. New microfilm reader-printers are also anticipated in the near future. The entire room was gutted and is now open-space from the entrance to the east courtyard. Re-opening is slated for February 16, 2011.




State Archives Offers IPER Webinars

               Pennsylvania IPER Team: Archivists Josh Stahlman and Jerry Ellis
Pennsylvania IPER Team: Archivists Josh Stahlman and Jerry Ellis

In the last edition of Access Archives State Archivist David Haury wrote of an initiative to provide more comprehensive training in identification and protection of essential records. This is the Intergovernmental Preparedness for Essential Records (IPER) project. Funded by FEMA and sponsored by CoSA (Council of State Archivists), this project has developed two webinars, each consisting of four ninety minute sessions. The first concentrates on identifying and determining protective strategies for an organization’s essential records. The second course provides the training necessary to create a disaster preparedness and response plan and the information on how to merge that into an organization’s Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plan. Many recent disasters have shown that planning for human safety and building security are not enough to assure an organization can return to full functionality after sustaining a disaster. Knowing which records are required at each stage of response and recovery, knowing where they are, and knowing how to retrieve them can make the difference between success and failure as an organization struggles to regain its effectiveness.

Utilizing the webinar delivery expands the availability of this training statewide. Participants do not have to leave their desks while interacting with others from Erie to Philadelphia. Course materials are downloaded free upon registration. The first Essential Records course will be offered beginning January 11 and will continue on Tuesday and Thursday until January 20, 2011. The initial offering is being made available through the training department of the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs (PSAB). Later courses will be scheduled in conjunction with other local and state government associations and records repository federations. Any personnel desiring to participate should contact Josh Stahlman (717-772-3257 or Jerry Ellis (717-787-3384) at the Pennsylvania State Archives for information on available sessions.

This training is particularly important for management personnel and those involved in the three disciplines principally responsible for records-related preparedness and response: archives and records management, emergency management, and information technology. In addition to FEMA approval of the courses, the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) granted Experience and Education points to the webinars. Municipal Clerks who take the webinars will receive one Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC) Experience point, or one Master Municipal Clerk (MMC) Advanced Education point, for every six hours of in-class contact.

The IPER project has also established websites for each state that provide links to pages containing valuable resource information for directives and contacts in the field of records management. All sites can be reached at:

Itinerant Archivist Update

Itinerant Archivist, Heather Heckman
Itinerant Archivist, Heather Heckman

Our last report on Itinerant Archivist Heather Heckman described the completion of the initial two-year, fifteen-county project and noted that an extension had been approved by NHPRC to allow five to six more counties to be assisted in the coming year and a half. After a much welcomed four-month break between projects, the latest round began when Heather traveled to Carlisle to spend time in Cumberland County. In addition to the types of tasks she has performed elsewhere, Heather was also asked to work with the County Archivist to develop plans and procedures for a new archival facility being developed by the county. A small quantity of archival records are now maintained in the old jail. A much larger building is being modified to provide climate controlled housing for Cumberland County’s historic records.

A few weeks before Heather began her scheduled maternity leave she visited Luzerne County which will be her next stop. She began working with the County Engineer and consultants to determine the best method to assess county requirements for records storage and to obtain the technical data essential for making plans for a new records facility. When Heather resumes her work in January she will assist Luzerne in other areas of archives and records management as well. Until then, we all wish Heather and her family congratulations as they welcome new son Ben.

MARAC Fall 2010: Harrisburg Recap

Plenary speaker, Kathleen Roe and Luncheon speaker, Jackson Taylor
Plenary speaker, Kathleen Roe and Luncheon speaker, Jackson Taylor

Begun in 1972, MARAC is a volunteer, regional consortium of archivists who live and work in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia, and in the District of Columbia.

The fall meeting of MARAC, themed “The Politics of Archives,” was held November 11 – 13 at the Harrisburg Hilton. Harrisburg proved to be a popular location, with over 325 registrants, a MARAC record.

Plenary Speaker Kathleen Roe, Director of Archives and Records Management Operations, New York State Archives, provided a compelling opening presentation regarding archival involvement in the world of politics.

Lunch Speaker, Jackson Taylor spoke about and thanked archivists who have helped him in the research for his Harrisburg-based novel, "The Blue Orchard."

In addition to guiding tours of the State Archives (Jonathan Stayer, Jerry Ellis) and serving both the Program (Linda Ries, Cindy Bendroth) and Local Arrangements Committees (Josh Stahlman, Jonathan Stayer), representatives of the State Archives oversaw and spoke at the following sessions:

“Replevin, Pros and Cons” State Archivist David Haury, presenter

“Compulsory Candor: Open Records Laws and Recordkeeping” State Archivist David Haury, presenter

“The Most Famous Man You’ve Never Heard Of: J. Horace McFarland.” Linda Ries, presenter

 “Working With Boards: Show me the Support!” David Shoff, chair

 “Advocating Downstream: Interns and Volunteers in the Archives” Sharon Nelson, chair

“Mining Archival Treasure in Central Pennsylvania” Josh Stahlman, chair

The Friday evening Reception held in the historic State Capitol Rotunda featured “A Taste of Pennsylvania”, which reflected the various culinary cultures and traditions of the Keystone State.

For more information on the conference and specific sessions, A PDF of the brochure can be downloaded here:

Archives Without Tears Training

AWOT training at the Erie Maritime Museum, July, 2010. Participant, Linda Bolla, left, examining a stereoview, and presenter, Jerry Ellis, right, leading a discussion
AWOT training at the Erie Maritime Museum, July, 2010. Participant, Linda Bolla, left, examining a stereoview, and presenter, Jerry Ellis, right, leading a discussion


Designed to affordably teach basic archival skills 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. So far, we have reached approximately 230 attendees representing 163 organizations.

This spring and summer workshops are planned with the following organizations:

April 5 - 6: Beaver County Historical Landmarks Foundation

May 10 -11: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

June 7 – 8: Bradford County Historical Society

June 28-29: Penn State Harrisburg 

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.  Many 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 historical 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 fantastic opportunity to welcome likeminded peers to your organization/facility, foster new relationships, and open dialogue community-wide.


Interested in Hosting an AWOT workshop in 2012? If your organization can provide a venue, audience, lunches, and morning coffee, the State Archives will provide instructors, materials, training, and will assist with publicity and arrangements.

Please check with the organizations listed above for registration information, or contact Josh Stahlman at 717-772-3257, or if you would like to discuss hosting a workshop.

Historical Lumber Photos by William T. Clarke On Display at the State Museum

"First steps in felling of a tree, Nine Mile, Potter County, PA."

“Wood on Glass,” an exhibit on display at the State Museum of Pennsylvania through May 1, 2011, consists of photographs by little known and long forgotten itinerant photographer William T. Clarke (1859-1930), a Rochester, NY native who chronicled the lumber industry and its dramatic impact on north central Pennsylvania during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Clarke’s evocative legacy is showcased in “Wood on Glass” with custom prints made from glass plate negatives, most now housed at the Pennsylvania State Archives and others in private hands.  A number of period lumber-related and domestic artifacts from the State Museum and the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum of Galeton will be featured to complement the photographs.

Clarke’s images graphically illustrate the epic transformation of the Commonwealth’s forests and ways of life between ca. 1890 and 1917 in Potter, McKean and Clinton Counties.

Produced in-house by The State Museum, the “Wood on Glass” exhibit was co-curated by Archivist Linda Ries with photo historians Ronald E. Ostman and Harry Littell who served as Scholars-in-Residence at the State Archives in 2005 to document Clarke’s photography.  Since discovering a cache of Clarke’s original glass plate negatives in upstate New York, Ostman and Littell – whose work on Clarke has been featured in the magazine Smithsonian – have collaborated to draw attention to the photographer’s collections and are authoring a book to interpret the photographer’s vast visual legacy.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will provide a lecture series at The State Museum in conjunction with the exhibit on the following Sunday afternoons at 2:00 pm:  January 30, 2011, “Old Growth Forests,” March 13, 2011, “Penn’s Woods,” and April 17, 2011, “Tree-Vitalization.”  These programs will also be free and open to the public with museum admission.

Tales from the Tower: Camp Security

Pennsylvania is home to the only remaining undeveloped site of a Revolutionary War prison camp.  Known as “Camp Security,” this prison was located in Springettsbury Township, York County, about one mile south of the Stony Brook intersection on Route 462.  The Pennsylvania State Archives holds militia records such as the one shown here, which document the history of Camp Security (Record Group 4, Records of the Office of the Comptroller General; Revolutionary War Associators, Line, Militia, and Navy Accounts and Miscellaneous Records Relating to Military Service, 1775-1809 {series #4.51}; Subseries 3A: Militia Accounts, 1777-1794; York County, Operations).

Fearing that the advance of Lord Cornwallis’s army would free British and German prisoners held in Virginia, Continental Congress authorized the Board of War to move them out of that state in the spring of 1781.  Initially destined for Massachusetts, most of the prisoners were detained in Pennsylvania because the Commonwealth’s agricultural bounty could more easily provide for them.  The Pennsylvania authorities sent some British soldiers captured at the battle of Saratoga and their families to York County for imprisonment.  On July 28, 1781, William Scott, in charge of the county’s militia, reported that he had “found a place . . . about four Miles and an half to the Eastward of York Town” where the prisoners could be housed.

Scott called out the militia to construct a stockade for the prisoners and to serve as guards.  Some 800-1,000 British captives arrived by August 2, 1781.  As evidenced by this document, Major William Bailey of the York County militia became Camp Security’s first commandant.  In addition to the stockade, the prisoners also built huts in which to live.  Following the American victory at Yorktown, Virginia in October 1781, an additional 800 British captives crowded the site.  Owing to a camp fever and the conditions of the prison encampment, as many as 350 prisoners may have died at the site. 

Camp Security remained in existence until the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783.  With the ratification of a preliminary peace treaty on April 19 of that year, the British quickly acted to arrange for the return of their captured soldiers.  On May 9 or 10, 1783, the prisoners and their families departed from the site and began their march to freedom with the British army in New York.     

Call for Volunteers and Interns

Are you interested in preserving Pennsylvania history?  Do you enjoy doing research?  Is your résumé lacking hands-on archival experience?  Would you like to learn state-of-the art techniques such as document conservation, digital imaging, online cataloging and website design?  Can you picture yourself working with a friendly group of dedicated professionals?  If so, consider joining us at the Pennsylvania State Archives as a volunteer or intern!  While we are currently unable to offer financial remuneration for these positions, we work with educational institutions to secure college credit for internships. Openings are available throughout the year.  Potential project opportunities include:

- Cleaning, mending, de-acidification and encapsulation of Civil War Muster Out Rolls for Pennsylvania units
- Inspecting and describing previously unprocessed records
- Reformatting and migration of standalone webpage finding aids to a web-delivery database environment  
- Researching collections and preparing specialized topical or collection guides and finding aids

Interested?  If so, please email Volunteer and Internship Coordinator Sharon Nelson at or call 717-787-5953.  We will try to match your skills and interests to available projects and mentors.  Please attach a recent copy of your résumé and any references you feel are relevant, and specify whether or not you are seeking to earn college credit for the experience.

Web Updates

Columbia County Melish-Whiteside map, showing Mount Pleasant and Orange Townships,  Manuscript Group 11.
Columbia County Melish-Whiteside map, showing Mount Pleasant and Orange Townships, Manuscript Group 11.

The Archives is in the process of scanning selected Pennsylvania county maps and atlases, which date roughly from the 1850s through the 1870s.  These maps were specifically chosen because they depict a plethora of surface and subterranean features, such as businesses, churches, mineral deposits, mountains, roads, rivers, and schools. Additionally, they also show property owners and dwellings, allowing researchers to place individuals or families in a certain spot at a specific point in time. 

Pennsylvania maps depicting the Commonwealth's various counties have been produced for over 300 years, with the first being Thomas Holmes' 1681 A Mapp of Ye Improved Part of Pennsylvania in America divided into Countyes Townships and Lotts. The first official set of county maps produced for the Commonwealth are known today as the Melish-Whiteside maps, which were drawn between 1816 and 1821.  The next major group of county maps to be published were the “wall maps,” produced from roughly the 1850s through the 1870s. These maps led to the production of the county atlases: bound volumes which included detailed maps of each township and municipality within a particular county.  It is these wall maps and atlases which have been targeted in the Archives’ latest scanning project. 

Thanks to the help of volunteer Stanley Walker, the project is nearly complete, with only a few more atlases to be scanned.  You can view these maps at the following web address:

Save the Date!

William Penn (Bill Kashatus) discussing the original 1681 Pennsylvania Charter
William Penn (Bill Kashatus) discussing the original 1681 Pennsylvania Charter

Charter Day, celebrating the 330th birthday of Pennsylvania will be held Sunday March 13 at all PHMC historic sites and museums around the state. Admission is free on that date. At the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Third and Forster Streets, Harrisburg, the original 1681 Pennsylvania Charter will be on display. William Penn (Bill Kashatus) will be on hand to tell the story of how he received his charter for land that became our Commonwealth. In addition, local historical societies will have display tables, Pennsylvania Jack will tell folktales, and the Victorian Dance Ensemble will demonstrate Civil War era dances.  Admission to the Museum and all events are free on Charter Day. The original Pennsylvania Charter will be on limited display from March 11 – 20. For more information contact Josh Stahlman at 717-772-3257 or

The MARAC Spring 2011 meeting will be held May 5-7 at the Westin Alexandria in Alexandria, VA. For more information visit:

The Nagara-CoSA Joint Annual Meeting will be held July 13-16, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee at the Sheraton-Nashville Downtown  For more information visit the NAGARA website at;

The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) is again offering programs for collections care, including, Matting and Framing for Preservation, February 23, 2011 and Fundamentals of Caring for Paper Collections, Part 1, March 30, 2011. For more information visit their website at

Archives Without Tears, a two-day archival basics workshop, will be offered by the State Archives this spring and summer at four venues around the state, including:

April 5 - 6: Beaver County Historical Landmarks Foundation

May 10 -11: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

June 7 – 8: Bradford County Historical Society

June 28 – 29: Penn State Harrisburg

See the related article in this issue.

Contact Josh Stahlman at or 717-772-3257 for more information.

Archives Receives Gardiner Journals

One of the more interesting recent donations to the State Archives includes two journals kept by John Gardiner, Jr. in 1794 and 1795.  The journals have been placed in Manuscript Group 6 - Diaries and Journals Collection.  Gardiner represented the Philadelphia Committee of Merchants, whose ships were being stopped and confiscated, during those years, by both British and French Navies. Gardiner was sent to investigate these occurrences in the Caribbean and to report his findings back to the committee in Philadelphia.  These journals relate to shipping from and to Pennsylvania during the Early Republic period when other nations tested the resolve of the young United States, and ultimately led to the XYZ Affair with France.

Before donated to the State Archives, this collection had passed down in family hands from the time of its creation.


Recent Accessions

Record Groups

RG-19, Department of Military and Veteran Affairs

Scotland School for Veterans Children

School Student Records, 1895-1975, 72 cubic feet

RG-29 Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

Records relating to Engineering Construction, 1994-1996, 10 cubic feet

RG-37, Public Utility Commission

Minutes of the Boards of the Public Utility Commission and the Public Service Commission, 1989-1990, 2 cubic feet

RG-47 Records of County Governments

Allegheny County Records Department

Occupational Registers (Veterinary, Optometry, Dental, Midwife, Stallion, etc.)

1881-1971, 3.25 cubic feet

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