Traveling with the Archivist
The pandemic restrictions have not allowed persons to visit the conference archives at the Lycoming College library in Williamsport, but the off-campus archives annex has been open and receiving visitors and researchers. The annex houses the closed church records, any duplicates of material housed at the archives, a museum of artifacts, and several special collections that cannot be accommodated at the main archives.
The restriction have not, however, prevented the archivist from continuing to travel around the conference doing research and collecting materials
Gathering material from closed churches continues to be a main reason for travel. A recent trip to Castanea in Clinton County to gather records from the former East Main Street ME and Castanea EV buildings turned up so much material that a second trip in the archives utility van was necessary to bring the items to Williamsport. A similar trip to the former Simpson ME church in Altoona filled the trunk and seats of the archivist’s car to overflowing.
Doing research and gathering information also necessitates travel. A recent trip to Huntingdon County in an attempt to clarify a 1928 mystery led to conversations with a 98-year-old man who was only 4 years old at the time but who remembered the people involved and could shed some light on the situation.
Sometimes travel just to see what’s there leads to serendipitous discoveries. A recent side trip into Union County on the way back and forth to Williamsport led to a shed, in front of which were several old oblong gospel songbooks that apparently had been lying there exposed to the elements for some time. Two of them, although in very poor condition, are now in our collection of over 1100 gospel songbooks at the conference archives. It’s very rare that such books appear that are not already in our extensive collection – and these books are especially valuable to us, having connections to area Methodism. They are:
Peerless Praise, 1882, edited by John H. Kurzenknabe, published by John J. Hood, former property of Emma Jane Felty Zimmerman (1864-1925) of Union County, wife of Franklin E. Zimmerman;
The Wells of Salvation, 1881, edited by John R. Sweney and William Kirkpatrick, published by John J. Hood, former property of Sarah E. Zimmerman Felty (1863-1901) of Union County, wife of John E. Felty.
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