A new book, Serving History in a Changing World: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in the Twentieth Century, by independent scholar Sally F. Griffith, traces the Society’s evolution from what was in many respects a 19th-century private club to a public institution, with many new constituencies in the second half of the 20th century. Griffith provides an account of the trials and triumphs of this major research facility in Philadelphia, always with an eye on the larger forces affecting all independent research libraries, and with telling detail about the personalities who shaped
“This book is...not merely a compelling case study,” writes Glenn Porter of the Hagley Museum and Library in his preface, “but a window onto larger issues that envelop many of our most critical cultural institutions.”
For Serving History, Griffith interviewed many current and former staff members and trustees and conducted extensive research in the Society's institutional archives as well as secondary sources.
“The most challenging thing about this project has been to do justice to the richness and complexity of the Society’s past,” Griffith says. “I have been pleased to get to know fascinating people in HSP’s history, from Julian Boyd and R. Norris Williams to the many devoted staff members over the years. But most significantly, the experience has deepened not only my understanding of the important role that the Society and institutions like it play in our collective cultural life, but also my appreciation for the challenges they face.”
Published by The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Serving History in a Changing World: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in the Twentieth Century (564 pages with 16 pages of halftone illustrations, ISBN 0-910732-27-2) is priced at $59.95, and is available through the University of Pennsylvania Press. To order call 1-800-445-9680 or visit their website at www.upenn.edu/pennpress.
Founded in 1824 in Philadelphia, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest historical societies in the United States and holds historical materials of national importance. It is one of the largest family history libraries in the nation, has extensive printed collections in local and regional history, and offers a manuscript collection renowned for its 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century holdings. These collections are used not only by historians and genealogists, but also by set and costume designers, journalists, script and fiction writers, actors and re-enactors, as well as researchers of historical dance, recipes, music, gardens, and many others.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
1300 Locust St.
Philadelpha, PA 19107
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