Writing stories on a topic a person is unfamiliar with can sometimes be a daunting task. More often than not; if a writer is willing to simply ask the questions, people are willing to share their stories in detail.
But what happens when the story a writer is trying to convey happened long before anyone alive today could remember? One could go to the Internet and find a wealth of information or go to a local library. But in order to save time in their research, one must have a little knowledge beforehand in order to utilize the computer databases, books, magazines and newspapers to their fullest. One resource so many people overlook when writing about local history or people is their community’s historical society or even the state’s historical society. The Community Connection has set out to educate its readership about the wealth of information that is available right in their home town starting with the Pottstown Historical Society.
A meeting to discuss an organization “to gather and preserve records and historical landmarks for the community” was held in 1936 by Marjorie Potts Wendell and her husband, James Wendell. One reason for the Wendell’s “preservation” enthusiasm was that Marjorie was a direct descendent to the founder of Pottstown, John Potts, the largest and most successful iron-master in mines, furnaces and forges throughout the American colonies. Who wouldn’t want to preserve a name like that!
The Pottstown Historical Society was formed and though the Historical Society first housed themselves in 1939 at the Pottsgrove Manor, the home John Potts built, several factors over the years forced them out of that location. In 2000 the Historical Society moved into its current location at 568 High Street , Pottstown. A group of volunteers and businesses have committed themselves to preserving the history of Pottstown, from buildings such as the Security Trust Building at High and Hanover Streets to the development of the John Potts Riverfront Park; they have been instrumental in preserving so many sites and memories in the Pottstown area.
Over the years, the Historical Society has gathered and maintained a library of historic documents, genealogical records and photographs. With the help of like-minded citizens wanting to preserve their community’s stories, their library includes a vast array of information on local church records, city directions, histories of Berks, Chester and Montgomery Counties, family histories, census records newspapers, photo archives, oral histories and a microfilm library.
The curators are more than willing to help anyone wanting to learn more about the history of the area. A good source for a beginner is A History of Pottstown, Pennsylvania 1752-1952 which the Pottstown Historical Society published in 1953. If you are researching a story, family history or are simply interested in learning more about the history of the area and people, you are encouraged to visit their website at http://www.pottstownhistory.org , or call for 610-970-7355 to obtain their hours of operation.
Over the next few weeks, the Community Connection will continue with its look at local historical societies. From canal systems used for transportation and pleasure to amusement parks and a speedway, the tri county area is rich in a history of a simpler time, before technology ruled the world and the information these preservation societies afford the public .