CCAHA

    • Westtown School drawing facsimile after digital enhancement
    • Photo Credit: Westtown School, bird's eye view, Addison Hutton, c. 1880
  • 264 South 23rd Street  
  • Philadelphia, PA 19103
  • 
P 215.545.0613
  • 
F 215.735.9313

  •  
  • 


Find us on Facebook
Institution: Westtown School
Stewardship Participation: Preservation Needs Assessment, Preservation Planning
Project Lead: Mary Brooks, Archivist

About the Westtown School: Founded by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in 1799, Westtown School is a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade coeducational day and boarding school located in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  The Esther Duke Archives contains the records, books, and artifacts relating to the founding and history of the school, and as such also “[serves] as a resource for study on Quaker education and the education of girls in the 19th century, Quaker views on social and political issues, early American needlework, family relationships, social customs and many other topics in American history.”

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

Receiving a Preservation Needs Assessment and developing a Preservation Plan helped us guide decisions and make improvements in a number of areas of collections care.   We established an environmental monitoring program using PEM (Preservation Environmental Monitor) dataloggers to regularly monitor storage conditions in the collection spaces.   

We prioritized material in the collection for reformatting and have had several key documents professionally conserved using matching funds from the preservation planning program. 

In addition, we have begun to change how we use some of our available space, with preservation of the collection as a priority.  In particular, we retrofitted a storage area to provide more appropriate storage furniture for framed items.

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

Participation in the Stewardship Program reinforced for us the importance of understanding the overall environment in caring for the collection.  We realized that taking basic steps in monitoring and controlling the environment can have a huge impact on the life of the collection.

Also, we now understand that gaining intellectual control over the collection is necessary in guiding all other collections care activities.  We have reinforced our efforts to create more and better finding aids, resulting in better access to the collection.

Were you able to use your Preservation Needs Assessment and/or your Preservation Plan to get any additional funding?

The Westtown School Archives was awarded a Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2010. The project we are undertaking - cataloging of and providing appropriate storage for the school's architectural records, many of which are oversized - was a key part of our long-range Preservation Plan.  I feel quite sure that participation in the Stewardship Program added credibility to the proposed project in the eyes of the NEH. 

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

The main benefit of our participation in the stewardship programs has been the detailed long-range Preservation Plan devised during the program.  It is the foundation upon which we make many of our decisions, large and small, with regard to the care and preservation of our collection.  The Plan continues to guide us as we move forward in an ever-changing environment.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

The Westtown School Archives has benefitted greatly from participation in the Stewardship Program through the assessment and preservation planning, as well as by attending the Collections Care Training workshops.  Access to CCAHA’s expert guidance has enabled our staff to provide better care for the school's varied collection.