Question 1: A. Stella Kramrisch, an art historian and curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, had a pet hyena.
Stella Kramrisch did indeed have a pet hyena. She also had at least one delightful cat who seemed to think that some remarkable Indian art belonged to it. Dr. Stella Kramrisch (1898-1993) devoted nearly 70 years to the study and appreciation of Indian art, serving as the curator of Indian art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 1954 until her death in 1993. She was also a teacher, lecturer and prolific writer, and the Stella Kramrisch papers, found at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives, document her activities, correspondence and publications as a collector and historian of Indian art. The records in this collection date from 1921 to 1998 and contain information about the art objects in Stella Kramrisch’s personal collection (which were later donated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art), and her publications and research. There is also a large collection of photographs of Indian architecture, paintings and sculpture. The majority of the collection is printed material related to Kramrisch’s research and scholarship; the breadth of the materials in this collection attests to her seminal influence on and ground-breaking contributions to Indian art scholarship. Story presented by Sarah Newhouse–check out her blog post regarding her experiences with this collection.
Question 2: C. In the 1980s, the Pennsylvania Ballet added a ballet entitled Rough Assemblage to their repertoire. The ballet featured dancers wearing metal-studded leather outfits, sequined combat boots, and Billy Idol inspired hairstyles as well as a musical score inspired by rock music.
Rough Assemblage, a “neo-new wave ballet” dance by Richard Tanner, had a commissioned score by the art-rock percussion composer David Van Teighem and was about “rockers in sunglasses and black leather,” (New York Times review). The Pennsylvania Ballet, was officially founded 1963 with George Balanchine serving as artistic adviser and the Ford Foundation providing the funds to help the struggling company establish itself. Based in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Ballet is still operational as of 2012, although it has undergone many changes in artistic direction and administration. The Pennsylvania Ballet records, at the Temple University Libraries Special Collections Research Center, document the activities of the Pennsylvania Ballet Company, active from 1963 through 2011. The materials in this collection cover the years 1963 to 2004, with the bulk of materials dating from 1969 to 1990. This is still an active organization, so these records do not offer a complete picture of the company’s history and activities, as most records are active and retained by the Pennsylvania Ballet. While there is some administrative material, most of the collection is comprised of visual and graphic material: photographs and negatives, slides, posters and program art. This collection may be particularly useful to researchers interested in set, lighting, and costume design; choreography; and marketing and publicity. Story presented by Christiana Dobrzynski Grippe–check out the blog post regarding this collection.
Question 3: C. The Conard-Pyle Company, a world famous rose-breeder based in Chester County, may have been involved in some cold war subterfuge. Conard-Pyle used their employee exchange program as a front for sneaking at least one man out of dangerous East Germany and into political asylum in the United States.
War and roses seem a bit removed from each other, but in fact, the Conard-Pyle Company was involved in the development of one of the most famous roses in history because of war. The story of Conard-Pyle’s relationship with the Meilland company in France and the resulting Peace Rose is pretty incredible. Maybe because of these relationships, the Conard-Pyle company fostered international research with its trainee exchange program. Records indicate that during the Cold War, this trainee exchange program may have done more than provide research opportunities! The Conard-Pyle Company of West Grove, Pennsylvania was a large horticultural enterprise that specialized in the cultivation and hybridization of roses. It was founded in 1897, and established a large magazine-based advertizing campaign and mail order business. According to a Company history, Conard-Pyle can take credit for several “firsts” in commercial horticulture in the United States, particularly in the development of new varieties of roses. The Company is best known for its famed Star Roses, most notably the world-famous Peace Rose. The Peace Rose was “provided to delegates from around the world as they met in San Francisco on April 25, 1945, to form the United Nations” (Thomas p.1). The Conard-Pyle Company records, held at the University of Delaware, contain material relating to the business activities of an influential and successful nursery company, created over a period of just over one hundred years. The papers chronicle Conard-Pyle’s evolution from a small-scale retail business to an influential wholesaler, as well as the financial, legal, and marketing concerns of a major nursery company. The collection provides a unique look at the activities of a large-scale nursery company, providing insight into the processes of plant breeding, patenting, marketing and sales. In addition, the collection serves as a window to the nursery industry as a whole, due to significant correspondence with other nurseries and material relating to professional organizations and societies within the nursery community. Story presented by Jenna Marrone–check out the blog post regarding this collection.
Question 4: B. A nationally regarded success in urban renewal, Morton, a neighborhood in Philadelphia’s Germantown, was featured at the 1964 World’s Fair as an ideal community.
In the late 1950s, Morton, a neighborhood in Germantown, where 3,680 people lived, was selected by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia for a make-over. Among other things, the neighborhood was rid of abandoned and sub-standard buildings and homes. New public and private housing units were constructed, commercial activity was centered along Germantown and Chelten Aves, and significant green space was incorporated. Morton was considered an immediate success and a national example in urban renewal for several reasons, most especially because of the residents’ involvement in the planning process. The Germantown Settlement was instrumental in bringing the Morton community and the Redevelopment Authority together, ensuring that the neighborhood’s development reflected its residents’ needs and wishes. According to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, a scale model of the redeveloped Morton neighborhood was on display at the 1964 World’s Fair.
The records of the Germantown Settlement as well as the article from the Evening Bulletin can be found at the Temple University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. A copy of the Morton Redevelopment Area Plan is digitized and part of the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Image database through the University of Pennsylvania and is fully available online. Story presented by Courtney Smerz–check out the blog post regarding this collection.
Question 5: B. During a religious visit to Scotland in the mid 1700s, two Quakers stayed at a suspicious-looking inn against the advice of their guide. They were scared by strange sounds late in the night and escaped into the woods. Passing by years later, the Quakers discovered that the inn had been destroyed by local villagers who had found the inn-keepers killing and serving up the flesh of their patrons.
This story was recounted in a manuscript, “A Memorable Instance of Divine Guidance & Protection,” in the Belfield Papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. HSP’s resident historian Dr. Daniel Rolphe tells us it may relate to the famed Scottish cannibals, or the Sawney Bean family, and their descendants/associates, who repeatedly re-appear in Scottish histories from the 14th-18th centuries. But cannibalism is only one of many fascinating topics in this “meaty” collection! It contains the papers of a prominent Philadelphia family who lived in the Belfield Mansion, and were indeed related to William Penn’s secretary James Logan and Constitution signer John Dickinson (although they were not related to Benjamin Franklin). Their collection spans from 1697 to 1977, and offers rich documentation of myriad subjects including the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, Colonial Dames of America, stamp collecting, world travel during the Great Depression, twentieth century psychiatry, and nineteenth-century industry and legal practice. And yes, the Sesquicentennial Exposition does feature prominently in the collection–not because women were excluded from the planning, but because, on the contrary, Sarah Logan Wister Starr was heavily involved in re-creating a colonial-era Philadelphia street for the Exposition. View the finding aid for the Belfield papers or head over to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to explore this untapped resource for yourself! Story presented by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza–check out the blog post regarding their experience with this collection.