One of the benefits of writing Preserving York is meeting others who share the same passion I have for York County, Pennsylvania history.
A few days ago I visited Jean Staub of York and her brother, Richard, who lives in Dallastown. I learned they owned some local scrapbooks, four of them to be exact, and were seeking someone to hand them over to who would care for them and share their contents with others.
Readers of the “Only In York County” blog, written by my friend Joan Concilio, may remember a story featuring a great downtown map that was created by Jean, Richard, and his wife Cheryl.
The scrapbooks they had contained an assortment of items including newspaper clippings from the anniversary celebrations of York County and the City of York, “Then and Now” articles, vintage ephemera, plus much more. Clippings from The York Dispatch and York Daily Record are included.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Scrapbook #1: Organization is key…
The beginning of this scrapbook starts from the early stages of local history – very early stages – including local dinosaurs, geology and forests, and even Native Americans.
One reason I like Jean so much is her attention to detail and organization skills when putting this collection together. One section features stories about each York County township and are placed in chronological order by their date of formation. Other clippings are neatly “tabbed” as shown below.
It would take quite a long time to look through this notebook, which also includes articles about local properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, “Then and Now” stories, and so much more.
Scrapbook #2: Clippings, envelopes, floods…
The next scrapbook is another great collection of newspaper clippings featuring local history, but is also mixed with examples of vintage ephemera. Jean broke this notebook down into categories including stores, miscellaneous York industries, actors – artists – entertainers, sports, and more.
The vintage items offer us a fascinating look into the past. One of the most unique findings are postal envelopes that have been saved from businesses such as People’s 5 and 10 Stores Co., York County War and Welfare Fund, York Paint and Hardware, Frey Bros. Coal, and many, many more.
Tucked away and almost overlooked near the back of the notebook are other interesting treasures. Some of them include a listing of York City Fire Alarm boxes and even a small booklet titled “Views and facts of York’s Flood in ’33″. This is a unique pictorial history of that disaster as captured and distributed by amateur photographer Phil Amig.
Scrapbook #3: A collection of “tidbits”…
The first two scrapbooks I discussed are actually 4-inch binders that are completely filled with pages of history. The next one isn’t nearly as full but still contains a large amount of information. The most prominent feature are brief newspaper clippings titled “A 250th Tidbit” and were featured during one of the local anniversary celebrations.
On Aug. 24, 1814, Yorkers observed an unusual light in the southern sky. It was the reflection of the flames consuming Washington, D.C., which the British burned during the war of 1812. Shortly after, The York Volunteers, a colonial militia, fought in the battle of North Point, just south of Baltimore.
One historian wrote in 1834 that deer were nearly extinct in the county because of a 3 1/2-foot snowfall in January 1772. The snow was followed by rain, which froze forming a thick crust. The deer supposedly died from wounds on their legs caused by falling through the ice.
Scrapbook #4: Then and Now…
I can’t forget Jean’s brother, Richard, who is passionate about firefighting and is a Trustee of the Dallastown Fire Department. He was fun to talk to and also had a colorful scrapbook to pass on that he acquired from a local resident who had passed away.
One of the best parts is the creative cover that the original owner created.
The collection in this notebook predates the others mentioned above and contain earlier “Then and Now” clippings. I find these are a great way to look at the past and see changes that have occurred over the years.
Identification and preservation…
One of the fist steps I’ll take with these scrapbooks is to identify the contents and create an index which will provide much easier accessibility. The pages also need to be digitized to preserve them for future generations. Newspapers are very acidic which causes the images and print quality to deteriorate over time.
I really can’t thank Jean and Richard enough for their generous offering of these four amazing York County scrapbooks. The information contained in each one is a wonderful collection of local history that will be used for future research, education, and most importantly for the enjoyment of others.