News from the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA)

At the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), where I am Director of Preservation Services, we don’t just clean and repair precious paper materials. We also help institutions, many of them archives and many of them in the Mid-Atlantic region, learn how to take care of their collections more effectively. Sometimes this is through ongoing relationships, like those fostered through the Philadelphia Stewardship Program, a William Penn Foundation-sponsored initiative designed to assist non-profit collecting institutions in the Philadelphia area in achieving their preservation and conservation goals for their collections over time. It is also through one- or two-day educational programs on a wide-ranging variety of topics related to collections care.

And sometimes it is through even closer, more enduring partnerships, like the one on which CCAHA embarked in 2014 with the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives at Philadelphia’s William Way LGBT Community Center (pictured below).

William Way LGBT Community Center, from the Center’s Website

The Archives, originally established in 1976, have been housed at the Center since 1997. The largest collection documents the 30-year history of the Center itself, but there are over 30 additional discrete collections documenting the history of the LGBT community in the Philadelphia and Delaware Valley region.

In the summer of 2014, the Center received a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation that aims to support the management and preservation of the Center’s unique, significant archival
collections. Among other important endeavors, the grant enabled the Center to create a paid staff  position for Curator Bob Skiba, who previously worked with the Archives on a volunteer basis since 2006, and hire a new Archivist, John Anderies. The funds will also provide for a complete renovation and expansion of the Archives’ storage space, which will now include a dedicated reading room space for researchers.

CCAHA were identified as project managers for the initiative, which will last through August 2017.
CCAHA’s work over the course of these exciting three years includes:
  • Hands-on conservation assistance
  • Written policy development and updating
  • Preservation planning
  • Emergency preparedness & response plan development and staff training in response protocols
  • Environmental and pest management planning
  • Conservation collections surveys for both the Archives and the Center’s art collection
Visit the links below to read more about the Archives: 
“Day in the Life of: An Archivist.” By Ryan Kasley. Philadelphia Gay News July 2, 2015. 
“Reanimating the Archives at William Way.” By Erin Brenard. Hidden City Philadelphia December 17, 2014. http://hiddencityphila.org/2014/12/reanimating-the-archives-at-william-way/
“Archivist Keeps Alive Story of Gay Culture in Philadelphia.” By Melissa Dribben. Philadelphia Inquirer April 29, 2011. 
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