Only one collection description out of the 14,506 added today to ArchiveGrid belongs to Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg. It’s the Alice Marshall Women’s History Collection, ca. 1546-1997, one of two collections in the school’s archives and special collections.
This one collection, described by an 83-page PDF finding aid, puts the school on the map, so to speak, in terms of being considered one of the largest research collections of a private owner on women’s history in the United States. Penn State acquired it in 1991 and some of the approximately 11,000 materials are still being cataloged.
Praise for the value this 238 cubic-foot collection has for women’s history scholars should start with an understanding of Alice K. Marshall of Harrisburg – who amassed these materials for 50 years – and her lifelong research of 16th to 20th-century women’s history.
Alice Kahler Marshall, according to the finding aid, started after her year as a World War II Army servicewoman to note contradictions between women’s realities and stereotypes of women’s behavior. Career-wise, Marshall worked briefly as a reporter for the Washington Post newspaper. During her later years in Harrisburg, where she and her husband lived and raised four children, she wrote and gave presentations about women’s history using much of what was in her collection. But for 20 years until she retired in 1981, she held prestigious positions with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
After that her collecting increased. In 1987, she won Pennsylvania‘s Award for Service to Women. An article that year in the Philadelphia Inquirer featuring Marshall said, “Part of her enjoyment in collecting has been her sense that she is helping to rescue women’s history from oblivion.” (Baker, Deborah. “Woman‘s Collection Fills a Historic-Female-Gap.” Philadelphia Inquirer. March 27, 1987.) Marshall was a fascinating woman with a fascinating collection.
With that, let’s look at what was in her trove.
Advertising trade cards. Postcards and Valentines. Broadsides. Graphics. Hand-colored fashion plates. Journals. Letters. Manuscripts. Newspapers. Magazines and Serials. Photographs. 105 Posters. More than 7,000 pieces of sheet music. More than 6,000 early 20th-century picture postcards. More than 7,000 books and pamphlets. Buttons, badges and pins. And more.
Page 81 of the finding aid is especially worthwhile to read because it lists Marshall’s publications and presentations.
We also welcome three other new ArchiveGrid contributors, whose collections add richness to those who discover them through the 1,694,393 WorldCat bibliographic records (the ones marked as archival materials, which get into ArchiveGrid) and finding aids now searchable in our system.