Founded in 1824 in Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) is home to over 600,000 printed items and more than 21 million manuscripts and graphic items. Its collections encompass more than 350 years of America’s history. A 2010 Center grant supported HSP’s efforts to plan for improved physical and technological access to its records by rethinking its historic building, constructed in the 1830s. HSP received Center support for its 2014 project An Artist Embedded in History, an immersive, two-year project in which Obie award-winning playwright Ain Gordon “embedded” himself in the organization’s daily functions in order to reflect on the complex processes of how history gets documented and preserved. In 2017, the organization received a Center grant to present Audience Embedded, engaging Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican community in developing new programming, inspired by the history preserved in the collections of HSP and Taller Puertorriqueño.
Obie award-winning playwright Ain Gordon will "embed" himself in the Historical Society's daily functions, in order to reflect on the processes of how history gets documented and preserved. Gordon will also spend his time in residence developing the script of a new play, to be performed at Philadelphia's Painted Bride Art Center, using the organization's extraordinary archives—specifically, its significant collections related to abolition and the Underground Railroad. Together, Gordon and Historical Society staff will explore, via a series of public events with visiting artists and scholars, how historical events are related to contemporary issues in the United States, such as race relations, marriage equality, voter disenfranchisement, and immigration reform.
*Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.*