CCAHA

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  • 264 South 23rd Street  
  • Philadelphia, PA 19103
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P 215.545.0613
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F 215.735.9313

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Institution: Betsy Ross House
Stewardship Participation: Preservation Planning
Project Lead: Lisa Acker Moulder, Director

About the Betsy Ross House: The Betsy Ross House, built in Philadelphia in 1740, was rented and inhabited by Ross from 1773 until 1786.  The house is recognized as the location where Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag.  This historic landmark is open to the public for tours, programs, and events, and also contains a rich archival collection consisting of materials relating to Betsy Ross, her family, and the time period in which she lived, as well as memorabilia related to her and the legendary sewing of the flag.

What were you able to accomplish as a result of your institution’s participation in the Stewardship Program?

We were able to develop a Preservation Plan for the collections, which provided a practical timeline for our staff to accomplish a great number of preservation goals.  Among other projects, we implemented a records management program, and also retrofitted a small room in the attic of the historic house to turn it into an environmentally-sound archival storage, processing, and research space.

What did you learn about your collections, or about preservation in general, because of the Stewardship Program?  What information has been helpful to you? 

I’ve found the Stewardship Program’s Collection Care workshops to be particularly valuable.  Several years ago I attended a program on Integrated Pest Management; the following day I drafted an IPM plan for the site, which drastically reduced the “critter activity” at the Betsy Ross House. 

The housing workshops were also very helpful. A large number of our collections are housed in custom archival enclosures that staff made after attending the workshops.

Were you able to use your Preservation Plan to leverage additional funding?

We were able to use recommendations from CCAHA to secure funding from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for a full-time Archivist.

What was the main benefit of participating in the Stewardship Program for your institution?

For the first time in the 100+ year history of this historic house museum, we now have the ability to allow scholars and students to use our archival collections for research purposes. Before our involvement in the Stewardship Program, our archives were disorganized and not stored in ideal conditions.  Now that we have a full-time Archivist, more than half of the collections are organized with finding aids and are housed in archival boxes in an environmentally-controlled room.  Our collections have been used to write the first scholarly biography of Betsy Ross, and graduate students have used them to write masters theses.  Perhaps most importantly for us, our own staff has learned new information about the history of the historic house, its founder, and past residents. In fact, we recently added a new interpretive element to our programming based on several articles discovered during the processing of the archival collections.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

My collections staff and I have never hesitated to contact CCAHA for advice, as they are so knowledgeable, willing to help, and wonderful to work with.