Archives Month Philly: Medieval Medical Monsters


The Historical Medical Library at the College of Physicians recently opened its doors and its stacks to a small group of enthusiastic fans of medical history, medieval documents, and Philly museums and archives. The library’s staff curated a display of materials all centered around blurry line between monster and medical anomaly, which was a wide gray area in the 16th-18th centuries. (Fun fact from the evening: the word “monster” was in use as a diagnostic medical term until the 1920s.)

17th century illustration of a child with animal faces covering his joints

From Monstrum historia memorabilis, monstrosa humanorum partuum miracula (1609)


Attendees also got a chance to see the library and archives stacks and to vote for their favorite manuscript or volume. Click through to the library’s twitter feed to see who won!





The books, manuscripts, and photographs were both beautiful and eerie — an excellent way to ring in Halloween week and to start the last week of Archives Month!

Archives Month Philly: WHYY’s Fresh Air archives

WHYY sign


[posted on behalf of Ken Cleary]

On October 16th, WHYY treated Archives Month Philly participants to a fascinating look at the analog tape archives of Fresh Air with Terry Gross. The tapes span from 1976 to 2007 and represent thousands of hours of interviews with some of the most important and interesting figures of late 20th and early 21st century history. After the tours, attendees enjoyed a presentation on how the deteriorating tapes were rescued and digitized, followed by a discussion of their on­going project to make the recordings freely and openly accessible. This CLIR funded project has allowed WHYY to collaborate with Drexel University to generate rich metadata for the Fresh Air archives, which will ultimately be accessible through WorldCat.

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Following the presentations, guests had the opportunity to mingle with WHYY staff and listen to a sampling of Fresh Air’s recordings.

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Archives Month Philly: Presbyterian Historical Society open house

At October 16’s Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) open house, part of Archives Month Philly, guests had the opportunity to participate in two important moments in the history of the society’s musical collections.01 - Performance of Barber's Chorale
One was the deposit of an original 1936 composition by famed composer and West Chester (Pa.) native Samuel Barber (1910-1981).  The composition, “Chorale for a New Organ,” had been held by West Chester’s Westminister Presbyterian Church since it commissioned the work from Barber to mark the installation of a new church organ.
02 - restored organ
The open house also featured the rare public performance of “Cordelia,” a restored reed pipe organ used by a missionary in Colorado and Wyoming in the early 20th century.  Attendees heard “Chorale for a New Organ” adapted for “Cordelia,” followed by a short and joyful “hymn sing.”
04 - refreshments
Also enticing visitors were refreshments–including beer from Victory Brewing Company–and gift bags, as well as a recent exhibit featuring artifacts collected by Presbyterian missionaries from around the world.  The exhibit, “Journeys of Faith: Artifacts from the Mission Field,” can be seen in the PHS lobby through 2016 during normal hours.

Archives Month Philly: Kislak Center Paper Menagerie

[posted on behalf of Celia Caust-Ellenbogen]


Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my! Visitors flocked to see these animals and more as depicted in books, photographs, and manuscripts at the Kislak Center for Special Collections at the University of Pennsylvania last Thursday. Kislak Center staff added a personal touch by wearing animal-themed attire and contributing pictures of their own pets to a slide show that circulated throughout the evening. If you missed the fun, you can visit the Kislak Center ( during their open hours and ask to see selections from their paper menagerie. Or, may we humbly suggest the Pets-in-Collections tumblr ( to feed your appetite for archival animals.