Archives Receive Top Marks
by Lauri Cielo
This blog post was submitted by Parish Archivist Nancy Fago.
St. Peter’s Archives have been ranked in the top 15% of small archive repositories in the greater Philadelphia area by the Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories, a program of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Over 160 repositories have been identified, surveyed, assessed and rated. In addition to gathering descriptive information on the contents of St. Peter’s archival collection, the Initiative assessed the condition, quality of housing, degree of intellectual and physical access and overall research value of the collections.
The program then created a finding aid to St. Peter’s Archives, which will be added to two well established online finding aids: the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) site and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s History Affiliates Organization Directory, an online directory of small and mid-sized history and heritage organizations in the Philadelphia area. Inclusion in these two online finding aids will bring St. Peter’s Archives to the attention of larger numbers of scholars and other interested individuals.
To many at St. Peter’s Church, the Archives and/or their whereabouts are a mystery. For the record, they are located in a small room directly behind the music director’s office on the third floor of the church offices at 313 Pine St. They contain information from 1761 to the present and consist of vestry minutes, parish registers and records of service, accounting and financial records, condition assessments and conservation records for the grave markers, landscape plans, deeds, blueprints, photographs, sound recordings, and other records of St. Peter’s Church. In addition, there are materials from parish organizations and affiliated organizations. Moving from their humble beginnings in mismatched file cabinets, steel cabinets and an untold number of cardboard boxes to their present organized state, housed in archivally sound, acid-free folders and document boxes together with a detailed finding aid with 13 record groups, St. Peter’s collection has made a slow but steady progress. HSPCPC initiated the project in 2005 and secured grants from government agencies and other sources to pay for the consulting services of a professional archivist and the purchase of the necessary supplies and materials. Volunteers from HSPCPC, both parishioners and non church members, have dedicated well over a thousand hours to this project.
Because of the Hidden Collections Initiative, St. Peter’s Archives will be accessible to researchers world wide. The collection has been rated as broad based, meaning that it has a wide range of significance and constitutes a case study for a topic of high interest.
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