Staff Research

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Slavery in Chester County (June 2021)

slavery Opens in new windowChester County did not escape the stain of slavery. Not only did hundreds of enslaved people work in the fields, taverns, forges, and mills throughout the county, but a growing enslaved population in the Caribbean opened new export markets for Chester County wheat and flour. In 1780 the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Gradual Abolition Act, but this early attempt to end slavery in Pennsylvania left a system in place that ensured it would continue well into the 19th century. Jacob Glasgow personally experienced the horrors of slavery firsthand—first as an enslaved man pursuing freedom, and second as a loving father and husband trying to navigate a legal system designed to protect the interest of the Hood family, who were the enslavers of his wife Sall. In 1803 Glasgow sued Samuel Hood over a broken contract. This was a bold act for a man who—just a few years earlier—had been inventoried as personal property. Glasgow’s perseverance and determination did not go unnoticed by the ensuing generations of children and grandchildren who shared his surname. This is a story of slavery in Chester County as told through the experience of Jacob Glasgow. Click the image to the left to access our "Slavery in Chester County" portal with the Glasgow video along with accompanying interactive maps showing slavery's spread in Chester County. 

Material Culture in the Archives (March 2021)

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Did you know the Chester County Archives has a shark's head in our collection!? Well, not exactly...but using estate inventories we do know that Representative John Hickman of West Chester did, in fact, own a shark's head when he died in 1875. We might not have many physical artifacts in our collections, but you can still learn so much about objects and material culture by viewing archival government records like estate inventories, insolvent debtors' petitions, assigned estates, and taxes. Check out this video in which we highlight how you can use our records to study some of the objects your ancestors or other historical subjects owned. Click the image to the left. 

The Anderson Family in Chester County (February 2021)


On October 16th, 1859, twenty-nine-year-old Osborne Perry Anderson was one of twenty-two men who captured the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia)—an event that has become known as "John Brown's Raid." But did you know Osborne Perry Anderson was born in Chester County? In this month's blog post, we poke around the archives to learn more about the Anderson family. Click the image to the left to read.

Our LEAST Favorite Records (January 2021)

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We get asked all the time about our favorite records to work with. So we wrote about them last year in a blog post which you can access by clicking here. But what about our LEAST favorite records? What are some of the records that are just a pain to handle and work with? We take a look at some of those in our latest blog post. Click the image to the left.