West Chester Borough Archives Collection - Chester County History Center

WEST CHESTER BOROUGH ARCHIVES COLLECTION

Collection Title: West Chester Borough Archives Collection

Collection Number: 230

Dates of Collection: 1890-1920

RepositoryChester County Historical Society

Project Archivist: Jane E. Dorcester

Abstract:

The records processed in this project were found in a 6 foot by 6 foot wooden filing cabinet labelled 11 the Tucker file 11 ;a 16 inch by 6 inch wooden double drawer index card box, and a 12 inch by 4 inch metal document drawer. A few loose papers were found in some of the Borough Record Books which were also processed. The Tucker filing cabinet was originally installed in c. 1913 at the old Borough Hall at 15-17 South High Street in West Chester. In 1977, it was moved to the next Borough Hall at the old Fugett Elementary School when the Borough moved there. While at the old Fugett School, the cabinet sat in a back room of the Tax Office collecting dust. In 1990, when the Borough moved to its present home at 401 East Gay Street, it was moved into the Council Chambers Conference Room. At the time of the move, then Councilman Ray Ott and Borough Manager Ernie McNeely expressed concern about the condition of the old records still stored in the cabinet. Out of their concern grew a two-part cataloguing project (Spring 1994 and Spring 1995).

Collections Contents:

WEST CHESTER BOROUGH ARCHIVES OUTLINE

HISTORY
The records processed in this project were found in a 6 foot by 6 foot wooden filing cabinet labelled 11 the Tucker file11 , a 16 inch by 6 inch wooden double drawer index card box, and a 12 inch by 4 inch metal document drawer. A few loose papers were found in some of the Borough Record Books which were also processed. The Tucker filing cabinet was originally installed inc. 1913 at the old Borough Hall at 15-17 South High Street in West Chester. In 1977, it was moved to the next Borough Hall at the old Fugett Elementary School when the Borough moved there. While at the old Fugett School, the cabinet sat in a back room of the Tax Office collecting dust. In 1990, when the Borough moved to its present home at 401 East Gay Street, it was moved into the Council Chambers Conference Room. At the time of the move, then Councilman Ray Ott and Borough Manager Ernie McNeely expressed concern about the condition of the old records still stored in the cabinet. Out of their concern grew a two-part cataloguing project (Spring 1994 and Spring 1995).


At the same time, the wooden index card box, metal document drawer and the Borough Record Books were placed on a shelf in the main storage room at the new Borough Hall. After the first part of the cataloguing project (Spring, 1994) was underway, the index card box, document drawer and record books were “discovered” in the storage room by the cataloguer, who included them in the second part of the project (Spring, 1995).


For the most part, there appeared to be no rhyme or reason to the organization of the records in the cabinet. Labelled drawers quite often had no documents in them, or, the documents found in them had no relation to the labels on the drawers. The impression the cataloguer has is that as time went on and space became scarce, older records were crammed together in drawers, regardless of their subject matter. Where possible, the documents have been organized in the way they had obviously been organized in the past. The documents found in the index card box had 11 finding guides” which enabled the cataloguer to retain their order within the files. Most of the documents that came out of the document drawer were property records and so can be found in that Record Group and Series. In most cases, the cataloguer organized the documents based on her research of the historical organization and development of the Borough government. The organization of the records within Records Groups and within files may expand as more information comes to light.
Documents belonging to William S. Underwood who, roughly from 1890 to 1920, was the Borough Tax Collector, Treasurer, and/or Secretary were found in Drawer #L32. These documents included papers relating to his role as Executor for two estates, Mary Underwood and Alice Underwood; and papers relating to his membership in the Union Veterans Association.· A cap either from the Civil War or the Union_ Veterans Association was also found with these papers. It is presumed to have belonged to Mr. Underwood. They have no place in the scheme of Borough records and will be offered to the Chester County Historical Society.