Jennifer Duli

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Joseph W. Thomas & Sons Nursery records at CCHS

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Unknown size: small.

The Joseph W. Thomas and Sons Nursery records at the Chester County Historical Society is mostly made up of the business and financial records of the long running nursery, but it also includes a small cache of nursery plate books. These books contain beautiful illustrations of the flowers, fruits and trees sold by the nursery. Because salesmen did not take actual stock with them on their sales calls (that would’ve been quite a feat!) they would instead entice customers with the brightly colored pictures of available items while out on their sales calls. It’s interesting to see what kinds of products were being sold, and I have to admit, these pictures would greatly encourage me to spend my money.

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The Ultimate Penn Biographer: Albert Cook Myers

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Unknown size: small.

The Albert Cook Myers research collection of William Penn materials showcases the dedication of its creator to the research process. Spanning 81 feet and residing in 131 boxes on the shelves of the Chester County Historical Society, this collection records Myers’ attempt to produce a definitive volume of works by William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. In this quest, he spent 50 years gathering information not just on Penn, but also on Penn’s family members, associates, and other prominent Quakers. In short, if a person, place, or document had any connection whatsoever to William Penn, Myers set about finding and taking notes on it.

Unknown size: small.

The information contained within this collection is fascinating on its own, but another thing that struck me as I went through processing was Myers’ copious note taking. Because Myers never learned to drive and had to rely on others to transport him to research facilities, he was determined to create thorough notes. That way, if he was unable to return to the facility he would be sure to have the information he wanted. He also never learned to type, relying instead on secretarial services to produce reports and other documents. Often his notes were recorded on one piece of paper, then cut and pasted on another sheet of paper. Whole articles or small pieces of information from numerous publications were also cut and pasted to sheets for Myers’ use. He even heavily annotated pages from some early editions of Penn’s works and glued them to other sheets of paper, which absolutely flabbergasted me when I came across them in the collection.

Although Myers was never able to complete this project, he compiled an enormous array of data about William Penn. His efforts at thorough and complete research of the topic certainly cannot be debated.