Uncovering Philadelphia's Past: A Regional Solution to Revealing Hidden Collections


This consortial project, encompassing 80 collections totaling more than 2,900 linear feet held in 18 area repositories, builds on preliminary work that laid the foundation for a regional approach to managing and providing access to historical collections. Collections included address the scientific, cultural, aesthetic, social and spiritual mores of American society from the earliest European settlement across more than three centuries as they were expressed regionally, nationally and internationally. The collections (see appendix) are especially strong in five areas: the political, economic, social and cultural history of the Delaware Valley; the history and evolution of American science and medicine; the American religious experience; history of education; and social justice and activism. Each individual collection has a high research value, often as determined by the PACSCL Survey Initiative. That value will be increased in the context of the shared PACSCL Finding Aids site, enabling researchers to draw topical connections between collections and across repositories. This is an extensive and complex project with partners ranging from major universities to smaller libraries and museums. PACSCL has increased the range of partners to include three additional non-PACSCL institutions -- a university, an archives, and a local historical society -- to foster collaboration, extend connections across collections, refine metrics, and test broader applicability of the protocols.


Cataloging Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded


Year Added



University of Pennsylvania Library


  • David McKnight

Collaborating Institution(s)

Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL)

Collection Size

0 boxes, 0 cubic feet, 2916 linear feet, 800 objects

Date Range

1701 - 2005

Geographic Scope

Emphasis on Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, but includes collections documenting national and international movements and activities.