The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) is a project of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Its goal is to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections at small archival repositories in the five-county Philadelphia region. These include volunteer-run historical institutions, museums, fraternal and ethnic organizations, community groups, churches, clubs, and other non-profit organizations with important archival collections.
Hundreds of small archival repositories in the five-county Philadelphia region hold thousands of individual collections documenting a wide range of topics and geographic areas. Private, non-profit organizations with a history-based mission or that have historically significant archival collections, that agree to make their archives available to the public, and that do not employ a full-time, professionally trained archivist are eligible for participation in the project.
Project staff identify small archival repositories in the Philadelphia area, survey and assess their archival collections, and create summary finding aids to these collections. The finding aids are made publicly accessible in an online database developed by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL). Within this single online resource, researchers may search collections held at a wide range of Philadelphia-area archival repositories, from the smallest all-volunteer organizations to the largest professional institutions.
Project staff also serve as a resource for local small repositories, offering training programs, advice, and assistance with issues of archival management and collections stewardship.
HCI-PSAR is a multi-phase project that began in 2011. During Phases I and II (July 2011 to October 2014), project staff visited 130 small repositories in the five-county Philadelphia region and surveyed and assessed over 1,100 individual archival collections totaling more than 12,000 linear feet of materials.
Phase III began in November 2014 and will conclude in April 2016. In addition to surveying remaining small historical organizations in the five-county Philadelphia region, Phase III will expand the scope of the project to include more types of repositories with significant archival holdings, such as churches, fraternal and ethnic organizations, and community groups. Additionally, project staff will offer training programs, foster information-sharing opportunities, and work to create sustainable advances in professionalism and capacity among small archives in the region. Project staff will also promote HCI-PSAR as a national model, presenting on the project at professional conferences and working with archivists in other parts of the country to develop small repository initiatives in their areas.
Yet, all good things must come to an end, and the HCI-PSAR project will be concluding in spring 2016. Join us as we celebrate project accomplishments and review findings from five years of surveying collections at over 170 Philadelphia-area small archival repositories. HCI-PSAR staff will highlight significant collections uncovered during the project, participating repositories will discuss success stories at their institutions, and public historians will speak about projects they have undertaken and the role of public history in the community.
The closing symposium will be held on April 20, 2016, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania featuring David Carmicheal, State Archivist of Pennsylvania, as the keynote speaker. David’s speech is sponsored by MARCH.
Other speakers include Erin Bernard, Founder and Curator of the Philadelphia History Truck; Jennifer Black, Assistant Professor at Misericordia University; Sarah DiSantis, Executive Director at Morgan Log House; Kelly McGuire, West Chester University; Bob Skiba, Curator and John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives, William Way Center; and Amanda Tuttle, Graduate Student at Lehigh University.
The symposium is free, but registration is required. A box dinner will also be provided.