Kelly Murphy: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Hi guys! I really enjoyed reading about everyone’s summer experiences and am happy to share mine. I spent two months at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP), located at 13th and Locust in Philadelphia, which seems to be a bermuda triangle of activity in the city. Not only did I walk through a crime scene one afternoon on my lunch break, but a few weeks later I literally walked INTO Philadelphia Phillies 2nd baseman, Chase Utley, where I attempted to mumble good morning, but only said “gooo…mmmor.” I also ran into this guy in the hallway by my desk. 
Ran into our Nations first President.

Back to HSP; It was a great experience into the world of collections, archiving, and libraries that I had yet to learn. A brief background on the Society- it was founded in 1824 and holds over 21 million graphic and manuscript items from over 350 years of American history, including the first photograph ever taken in the United States, (which occurred in Philadelphia) numerous copies of constitutional drafts with handwritten notes made by delegates in the margin, and a lock of George Washington’s hair with documented provenance- all part of HSP’s Treasures collection. “With the addition of the holdings of The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in 2002 (and those of The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania in 2006 through a Strategic Alliance Agreement), the Society has become a chief center for the documentation and study of the ethnic communities and immigrant experiences shared by people whose American history began more recently-between the late 19th century and our own times.

In 2009 HSP formally transferred ownership of its museum collection to the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia.” The current building which is in the process of undergoing a renovation (I was able to sit in on related meetings and was able to learn what a real process this is within the museum/historical realm due to the collections, donor relations, and building codes) was the mansion of a former Mexican civil war general, which I learned about during my ghost tour of the site (there are supposedly over 20 ghosts at HSP, I saw 0).

My internship was split between the Public Relations and Development/Programming Departments. Below is a list of the main projects I worked on this summer, with various mailing projects and day to day tasks in between.
I enjoyed my time at HSP for numerous reasons, the first being my self-management schedule. I checked in with my supervisor routinely, however there was little guidance regarding many projects. I enjoyed the independence and professionalism. I also enjoyed learning more of the Development side of HSP. In the past 4 years following my Bachelors degree I have worked and interned in a strong variety of PR and Marketing roles, each uniquely important, however this was the first internship where I really developed new skills and was put into an arena I was not overly comfortably with, at first- that arena being Raiser’s Edge. Having briefly touched on Raiser’s Edge in a prior internship, I knew how to open, search and then close the program, however at HSP, I learned new terms and methods to operate within the database, completing a 5 month visitor backlog input along with a Query project. With regard to the PR aspect, I enjoyed working on a project where I developed the research and basis of a marketing plan to target HSP genealogist segment. I am very proud of the ideas I developed within the plan. Fortunately through these projects as well as meetings I was also able to focus on my thesis and share ideas with HSP staff.
Although I worked on numerous lengthy projects, everyday at HSP seemed different. Having such a vast collection there was always a discovery being made, an archive being salvaged, or an event being held. I truly felt that during my time at HSP I learned something new everyday- from a fact about colonial Philadelphia to how to scan a document to my desktop from the main copier. One of the most interesting days of the summer was when I was able to take the Treasure’s tour. As aforementioned HSP houses over 21 million documents, the Treasure’s tour allows Institutional guests to view the 12 most revered documents in the Society’s collection and I was able to literally stand centimeters away from the documents. After an elevator ride, three security codes, and numerous hallways and doors, myself and three other interns were led by HSP’s Library Director to a vault which when opened contained so much history, my inner nerd got the chills! Being able to come so close to the original signatures of the Constitutional Delegates, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, and Francis Scott Key, along with original portraits of William and Hannah Penn, the first map of Philadelphia and a lock of George Washington’s hair was an unforgettable experience. So much of our nations history originated on the streets we walk down everyday and seeing these documents in first person, not behind the class of an exhibit was something I’ll never forget. 
One of three existing copies of the Star Spangled Banner, signed by Francis Scott Key. 

Along with my time at HSP, I stayed busy with First Person Arts, where I am now a Friends Committee member helping to plan this years First Taste Fall Fundraiser, taking place October 24!
Below are a few more photos from my time at HSP…
I ate a lot of Jimmy Johns on my lunch break!
My little desk space with a mailing project.

Photo I shot at a Cartography lecture & Event.