Most of the materials in the Academy Library and Archives consist of what we call internal transfers. These are items created within the science, education, finance and other departments that have kept the Academy running since 1812.
Once these departmental reports, correspondence, images, notes and other items are no longer regularly consulted or expanded, they become historic documents with long-term research value. That’s where the Archives come in.
As you can imagine, in 210 years, hundreds upon hundreds of people have interacted with us, and many have unique and amazing materials that they are willing to hand over to us because they trust that the Academy will preserve them and make them accessible to the public for generations to come.
These donations vary in size from a single folder to several boxes of papers, and they vary in time from a 19th century Academy membership certificate to a recent acquisition — documents related to the creation of the Women In Natural Sciences program from the 1980s. The donor, Carole Williams-Green, was one of the original founders of the WINS program, and we are so fortunate to accept her gift.
In 1979 Williams-Green became a trustee of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and three short years later she helped WINS launch its first summer program. After 40 years, WINS is still going strong!
When Williams-Green helped launch WINS, she was an administrator in the School District of Philadelphia. She had started as a teacher, and science education became a focus for her entire career. She brought her focus and knowledge to the Academy.
Her recent donation to the archives includes materials related to her appointment to the Board of Trustees, early proposals for the WINS program, the first history of WINS (written for its five-year anniversary) and documents about other Academy programs that Williams-Green supported. Some of these materials are unique because they contain annotations and edits, and together they can help tell the special story of Williams-Green’s impact on the Academy.
Williams-Green’s contributions to the Academy are only a small part of what she has done for education and environmental science awareness in Philadelphia. In addition to her work in the Philadelphia public school system, she has taken part in and spearheaded learning and education in the environmental sciences for children outside of the classroom.
For 10 years she worked to establish the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center, which opened in 2001, and she served on the boards of the Girl Scouts and PECO’s Energy Education Advisory Council. Much of her work has centered around advocating for hands-on, interactive science experiences for young people, a cornerstone philosophy she fostered in WINS.
The Academy Archives is always pleased to hear from people who have had a connection to the institution. Some former staff from the 1970s and 1980s reached out recently, qualifying their offer with: “I don’t know if you’ll be interested in this or not.” Yes!
We are always interested in the documentation of the many people who have made the Academy what it is today. Some items may not be unique, and we don’t need to add them to the archives. But other items tell the story of the individual as well as of our institution, and we are eager for them to become part of a collection open to researchers of the future.
For more information about the Academy Library and Archives, visit our webpage.
Join us in honoring WINS’ 40 years of award-winning science enrichment, positive youth development and career preparation! The Academy is offering free admission on Saturday, Sept. 17, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 18, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Check out a special WINS pop-up exhibit and experience an engaging and immersive story narrated by WINS alumnae and current students. Plus, meet current students and hear about their work and adventures during a WINS poster session and demonstrations on Saturday from 10 a.m.–noon. For more information, visit our website.
By Jennifer Vess, former Academy Brooke Dolan archivist