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Chester County Historical Society named People’s Choice Award winner in Pennsylvania's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts campaign

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The online campaign to save Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts has officially ended. The six-week public relations and crowdfunding initiative created by the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) successfully raised public awareness for these artifacts by attracting over 5.2 million online votes, amassing 623 social media shares and raising just over $16,000 toward the conservation of historic artifacts across the state.

Chester County Historical Society from West Chester was named the People’s Choice Award winner, receiving a total of 1,968,595 votes, shares and individual donations in support of imprisoned abolitionist Passmore Williamson’s visitors’ book. The campaign inspired institutions to connect with new audiences and host creative social events such as a Thaddeus Stevens lookalike contest, happy hour click-a-thon and more.

“It was very exciting to see the momentum of the campaign building since the launch in Harrisburg,” said CCAHA Executive Director Ingrid Bogel. “I hope that this experience has encouraged people to visit and support their local museums, historical societies and archives, and to feel invested in our shared histories.”

Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts was a social media-driven crowdfunding experiment that highlighted ten historic treasures held by Pennsylvania institutions, and offered an opportunity for the general public to become directly involved in conservation efforts. From historic manuscripts, books and films to 18th-century butterfly specimens and a wig worn by a congressman instrumental in abolishing slavery, each of the artifacts illuminates an important facet of the nation’s history.

In addition to Chester County Historical Society, other participating institutions were The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, American Philatelic Society, Carnegie Museum of Art, LancasterHistory.org, Mennonite Heritage Center, Old Economy Village, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum, and Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center. Each institution will receive all funds donated toward the conservation of its artifact, in addition to $250 donated to each organization by The Beneficial Foundation.  

Supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and the Beneficial Foundation, Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts was part of CCAHA’s Save Pennsylvania’s Past, a multi-year, statewide effort to protect and preserve the millions of objects and historic artifacts that shape the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s history and define our nation. To view the final standings and learn more about each artifact, please visit www.PATop10Artifacts.org.

View or download a PDF of the press release.

Images: Passmore Williamson's visitors' book / Loose support leaves with attachments / Passmore Williamson in Moyamensing Prison, Philadelphia, 1855; quarter plate daguerreotype attributed to John Steck, Philadelphia (Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA) / Exterior of the Chester County Historical Society History Center (image courtesy of the Chester County Historical Society)