Inside this Issue
Glimpse into the lives and passions of the diverse group of women who comprise today’s DAR membership.
Take a step inside the DAR Museum for a closer look at its fascinating collection.
Learn about the interesting historical articles from this issue.
To Come in Our Next Issue
Preview the exciting stories to be featured in the next issue of American Spirit.
Making History Accessible
By Lena Anthony
Photograph courtesy of Sue Kellerman
Volume 149, Number 5, September/October 2015, Page 4
Pennsylvania Daughter and Penn State Librarian Sue Kellerman turned her passion for history into a career with worldwide impact—pioneering the field of preserving and digitizing print collections.
As the Judith O. Sieg Chair for Preservation at Penn State University’s Pattee Library, Sue Kellerman is responsible for the care and preservation of important collections of historical documents. When she started in this role almost three decades ago, such preservation simply meant careful bookbinding and microfilming and the use of de-acidifying paper in order to slow documents’ inevitable deterioration. During the past 15 years, Ms. Kellerman’s responsibilities have expanded to include overseeing the digitization of university collections in order to prevent further disrepair, and also to promote free, open access to the materials. Today, Penn State has one of the country’s largest digitized collection of maps, as well as numerous other digitized collections of Pennsylvania history that are available to the public.
Ms. Kellerman, a member of Bellefonte DAR Chapter, Bellefonte, Pa., is now considered a pioneer in her field. Excluding graduate school and a two-year stint in Ashland, Ky., as a reference librarian, she has spent her entire career at Penn State, where she is now an endowed chair.
Her most thrilling experience took place in 1984, when she and a colleague traveled miles upon miles across 30 counties in central Pennsylvania as serial catalogers for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Project. Their work was part of a National Endowment for the Humanities project that aimed to find, catalog, preserve and enhance access to all of the newspapers published in the United States.
“It has been the highlight of my life, and even though the project ended more than 30 years ago, it’s still part of my spirit,” she says.
The job sent Ms. Kellerman and her colleague to historical societies, county courthouses, private residences and even to antique shops, which they visited on hunches.
“Sure enough, we would find bits and pieces of old newspapers there,” she says.
But in order to be catalogued, those newspapers had to belong to someone, so Ms. Kellerman frequently bought them. “I have some extremely rare titles,” she says. “I have the only documented copy of a German newspaper, The Deutscher Volksfuehrer, first published in the Altoona, Pa., area in 1878.”
Another prized piece in her collection is an 1861 Philadelphia newspaper she bought for $1.25. “I was 12 years old at the time. It was in the gift shop of a military museum down the hill from my house, and I was just drawn to it,” she says. “The fact that I could hold a piece of history was so exciting to me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the start of the collection I have today.”
Ms. Kellerman’s other passion is helping others with preservation and digitization. An active member of the American Library Association, she holds numerous positions and frequently presents at conferences and meetings, and she has published several documents related to preservation.
She also enjoys helping people with practical preservation problems. For example, she sprang into action when a sprinkler at a public library went off, threatening stacks upon stacks of periodicals, and she even got out of bed and answered her door when a friend spilled water all over a favorite book and didn’t know what to do next.
“If people need help and I know I can provide good information, then I do it,” she says. “It’s a part of who I am.”
That same spirit led her to the DAR. After presenting to a local chapter in 2000 and “catching the genealogy bug” from a co-worker the following year, Ms. Kellerman decided to join. “For the past 14 years, it has been an incredible journey to research my family,” she says. “They’re so alive to me now, and becoming a DAR member was an important part of that.”
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Taking the DAR for a Spin
Photography by Mark Gulezian
Volume 149, Number 5, September/October 2015, Page 5
A common sight to DAR members, the DAR insignia was inspired by this spinning wheel, one of approximately 30,000 objects in the DAR Museum’s collection reflecting the material culture and social history of the United States prior to 1840.
Known as a treadle wheel, this type of spinning wheel is powered by a foot treadle and uses a bobbin instead of a sharp spindle. In early America, treadle wheels were also called linen wheels because spinners often used them to spin flax into linen. The larger hand-powered wheels with sharp spindles tended to be used for wool.
This model allows the spinner to use both hands to manipulate the fiber, drawing it out while the turning of the wheel twists it into thread or yarn. The tall distaff holds the fibers so that the spinner can easily pull them out in a continuous strand for twisting.
This example dates to about 1775–1825. As is typical of older wheels, the design combines oak, chestnut and maple woods with only a few metal and leather parts. While some of the smaller pieces—particularly the leather ones—may have been replaced, the entire spinning wheel is complete and in good condition. It could still be used to make yarn today.
For more National Treasures, please visit the DAR Museum's Featured Objects.
A Limitless Horizon by Emily McMackin
On October 11, 1890, DAR’s visionary early leaders began their journey toward the formation of a lineage society devoted to historic preservation, education and patriotism. That legacy is still thriving 125 years later.
A Responsibility to Preserve by Courtney Peter
With decisive action and sacrifice, Daughters have saved many endangered historic sites, awakening a nationwide awareness of the importance of historic preservation.
Sharing a Wealth of Data with the World by Nancy Mann Jackson
The DAR’s already-vast resources devoted to genealogy are expanding to offer public access to rare and valuable Revolutionary-era documents.
Illustrating the Vibrancy of Today’s DAR by Lena Anthony
The DAR was founded on a tradition of service, and members’ devotion to that mission has long benefited their communities. The Society’s Celebrate America! initiative enables members to witness how the millions of hours they devote to others make a difference.
Spirited Adventures: Philadelphia by Lindsay Fiesthumel
With its iconic symbols of freedom, Philadelphia welcomes visitors to walk the same path of Revolutionaries such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross.
Visions of America: Remembering the Revolution by Heidi Campbell-Shoaf
A new DAR Museum exhibit opening October 8 will illustrate how early U.S. citizens sought to maintain a connection to the Revolution.
The Americana Collection: Safeguarding a Revolutionary Resource by Tracy Robinson and Amanda Fulcher
The Americana Collection’s significant collection of original documents helps tell the story of the United States.
Our Patriots: Freedom Fighters by Bill Hudgins
Though it’s difficult to describe the “average” Revolutionary War soldier among the 175,000 or more who bore arms, their collective contributions to liberty were extraordinary.
Plus: The President General’s Message and Whatnot
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To Come in November/December 2015:
If Not for DAR: Chapters of American History Saved by Daughters
Preserving Wisconsin’s American Indian Effigy Mounds
Quakers’ Role in the Revolution
Visions of America: National Cemeteries