Germantown: Historical Society At A Standstill

Eugene Stackhouse
Eugene Stackhouse holds his first published book, a genealogy of his family.
Deed Book
This is a deed book dating back to the 1700s and still has yet to be preserved in a cooling room.

Hobbling around the dark oak table, Eugene Stackhouse beamed with excitement upon mention of the history in Germantown. Stackhouse, 68, the former president of the Germantown Historical Society still walks around like he runs the show, while the other volunteers obey his commands. The Germantown Historical Society stands on the 5500 block of Germantown Avenue behind what Stackhouse claims to be “one of the best Civil War memorials in Philadelphia.”

The society’s library and archive is packed tight with deteriorating paper clippings, century old phone books, and stacks of uncatalogued dust collecting documents. However, no matter where you look there is no special cooling room to help preserve and maintain the stacks.

So why are such valuable documents that tell the narrative of Germantown’s historical past being left out to face the elements without any hint of preservation?

Eugene Stackhouse
Eugene Stackhouse holds his first published book, a genealogy of his family.

“We don’t have the money,” said Stackhouse. “We only get money through fundraising. Contributions. But mostly research… it’s $7 to walk in and $50 for send away research. But that’s mostly for genealogy.”
“I used to have a schedule, but now I only come in by appointment,” said Stackhouse. He added, “We only have one employee in the society, the rest are all volunteers who come in on their own time, even on the weekends.”

1 Comment

  1. This is the sort of thing that is happening not just in Germantown. Times are tough, and the number of dollars being offered for preservation descends. Also interests aren’t what they once were.

    I think it’s not a bad thing to transcribe valuable documents, quite carefully. Oh. I’ve been in touch with Gene, and know how seriously he takes his “assignment.”

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