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.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) will collaborate with Taller Puertorriqueño to engage members of Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican community in developing new programming, inspired by the history preserved in both organizations’ collections. Inviting audiences to mine the organizations’ holdings that document the experiences of Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia, Audience Embedded aims to give community members an active role in how the city’s cultural heritage is interpreted and presented, and considers how economic forces transform a neighborhood’s characteristics over time. A team of technical and artistic advisors, including playwright/director Ain Gordon, visual artist Michelle Ortiz, public historians, and scholars, will guide the community cohort in their exploration of the two archives, as well as a creative process of program development. In year two of the project, HSP will present public programs based on the participants’ work. HSP says the project represents its newly re-envisioned strategic direction to “preserve, share, and interpret the stories of people who have typically been marginalized by the historical record.”
Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.