This week’s first in-person Chester County Commissioners’ public meeting held since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic took on historical meaning in more ways than one. Held in Courtroom 1 of the Chester County Historic Courthouse, the meeting included the Commissioners’ recognition of Chester County Archives staff and the announcement of a national award for their work.
The National Genealogical Society (NGS) presented one of three national awards to Chester County Archives for the county’s historical 1777 Property Atlas Portal. Presented as part of the 2021 NGS Family History Conference, the county’s interactive property atlas was featured in a SLAM Showcase (Societies, Libraries, Archives and Museums) as an innovative project that greatly benefits genealogical researchers.
Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz said, “Our Archives & Records Service staff are passionate about history and they use that passion and energy to create amazing interactive programs that bring history to life. The 1777 Property Atlas is one example, and is certainly worthy of the recognition it has received.”
The 1777 Chester County Property Atlas is an interactive map that allows researchers to easily see who owned properties in 1777, and if those owners or occupants reported any losses caused by British troops during the Philadelphia Campaign of the Revolutionary War. Research on the atlas began as way to support the Planning Commission’s grant-funded interpretation of the Battle of Brandywine, when the Commission needed maps showing what roads existed at the time of the battle. To view and search for 1777 property records, go to www.chesco.org/archives.
Conor Hepp, President of the Chester County History Center, also attended the Commissioners’ Meeting to add his congratulations on behalf of the History Center. “We are so proud of the exceptional work our Chester County History Center staff has accomplished to create this project and their managing of the Archive & Record Services department for the county. It is their dedication and skills that have made this partnership so successful."
As part of the award, Chester County Archives receives a $250 cash prize and a one-year library subscription for photo enhancement software. Laurie Rofini, Director of Chester County Archives, said, “The department will use the award money towards software to support the project going forward, as it is our plan to eventually map the entire county.
“It’s been exciting to see the project evolve over the years under Archivist Cliff Parker’s leadership. What started as static maps has become a many-layered interactive experience, thanks to both Cliff and Assistant Archivist John E. Smith III.”
Chester County Archives was established in 1982 to preserve and make available the historic records of Chester County. The archives currently holds over 2,940 volumes and 1,823 cubic feet of original public records of enduring historic and cultural value. Staff in the department provide support to more than 3,000 researchers a year, and the Archives is a primary destination for genealogists, property researchers, local historians and academics researching all facets of Chester County history.
The Chester County Archives is administered by the Chester County History Center in cooperation with the County of Chester.