A History of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania - Vol. 2

A History of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania - Vol. 2

A History of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania - Vol. 2

A History of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania - Vol. 2

Excerpt

A New Era -- Characteristics -- A Period of Unusual Growth -- The Rise of the Society to a Position of Commanding Influence -- The Part Taken by Librarian Stone

WITH the death of Mr. Wallace and the removal of the Society, shortly afterwards, to the Patterson mansion, a distinct era had closed, and a new era had begun.

During the centennial season of 1876 and the years that immediately followed, the old Picture House, with its display of historic exhibits had proved to be an attractive place to visitors interested in American history, but in no exact sense could it have been asserted that the Society then possessed the features of an institution of real assistance to scholars and historians in search of original material. The library was too miscellaneous and small; the manuscript collections, with the exception of the Penn papers and the Logan papers, were still sparse; the great Fahnestock collection of pamphlets had not then been arranged. The magazine was still in its infancy and had reached but a narrow circle. The purchases for the Gilpin Library had but barely begun. The necessity for intensive, selective and systematic acquisition, instead of relying on lucky findings and fortuitous gifts had hardly been realized. Almanacs, newspapers of all kinds, journals, magazines, brochures, essays, controversial pamphlets, documents, laws, Bradford, Keimer and Franklin imprints, manuscripts, autograph letters, portrait prints and the like had yet to be accumulated with a serious intent to make each set as complete as possible. These were chosen with an eye to their fitness for historical uses rather than to the acquisition of whimsical curiosities.

It was during the twenty years of the librarianship of Frederick D. Stone, 1877-1897, under three presidents -- Wallace, Coxe and Stillé -- that the Society steadily advanced to a commanding position in the eyes of sister societies and the estimation of scholars. What Alvey A. Adee of the State Department at Washington has been to successive Secretaries, that was Librarian Stone to the officers of this Society. Such . . .

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