Our Documentary Heritage showcases holdings drawn from the vast collections of the Pennsylvania State Archives.

Prior to the construction of the William Penn Memorial Museum Building in the early 1960s, The State Museum of Pennsylvania was housed in the old Executive Office Building, renamed the Speaker Mathew J. Ryan Legislative Office Building in 1998. This building was frequently called the State Library and Museum Building because it also housed the State Li­brary until the present-day Education Building was completed in 1931.

Among the holdings of the Pennsylvania State Archives are a number of early records relating to the operations of The State Mu­seum, including original accession registers and in­ventories of museum holdings. An early acces­sion register; part of Accession Registers, 1930-1947, Series Number 13.83, was kept by William J. Durborow for The State Museum for a period of two years, from May 18, 1930, to June 3, 1932. The type of information provided in such registers includes the date of each museum accession, a brief description of the object, artifact, or work of art, and the name of person from whom it was acquired. An entry dated September 8, 1930, offers fascinat­ing information on the accession of a flintlock rifle that once belonged to John Harris (1716-1791), the founder of Har­risburg. The entry provides the provenance of the rifle written in 1876 by James Harris McAllister (1821-1907), Harris’s great-great-grandson, and re­veals alterations and repairs that had been made to it through the years.

A second volume, begun in 1934 by Mildred S. Garrettson, a clerk, provides sequential accession numbers for each entry that museum curator Henry K. Deisher later synchronized with his in­ventories that cover the years from 1916 to 1937. A third accession register, kept from January 1937 through March 1947, continues the category – prefixed num­bering system begun by Garrettson with the addition of the last two digits for the year of accession that appears before the category letter. A key in the front of this volume decodes the lettering system. (Some accessions from the thirties were added to the back of this volume about 1956.) A fourth volume is a donations and purchase book that duplicates the in­formation contained in the preceding register, but it commences in October 1936, three months before the beginning of that volume. Since Deisher’s lists end early in 1936 and this volume only com­mences near the end of 1936, there remains a substantial gap of several months duration for which no accession records are known to survive.