Even the archives does not pretend to know the full extent of its collections sometimes. Last week, the archives team cleaned out their “furniture room,” which contained oversize artifacts and antique furniture. Hidden in a back corner, we made a few re-discoveries of interest. This oversized plaque hung in the lobby of Philadelphia General Hospital from 1947-1977. It was a gift from the Alhambra Society, a Catholic fraternal organization that seeks, among other things, to commemorate the Catholic History of the United States. The Daughters that it refers to were 13 in number during the cholera epidemic in 1832. When the City Council voted to reward each of the Daughters with a silver pitcher the following year, they declined their reward as incompatible with their vows; the Council voted instead to donate the monetary value of the pitchers to St. Vincent’s Asylum in the city.
Also among our large (and very heavy) objects was the cornerstone to St. Anne’s Home. This orphanage in St. Louis was founded by the Daughters in 1831, but this cornerstone came from their second location in 1843. With the coordination and work of Archbishop Kenrick, an Irish immigrant and philanthropist John Mullanphy, and the donation of the building by Anna Biddle, the Daughters began to cement their long association with the city.
Finally, the archives team saw their imagination sparked through the Daughters association, almost 400 years strong, with the Ladies of Charity. The collection of artwork in the Provincial Archives does not only consist of portraits. This hand-carved wooden rocking chair was given in memory of Edna and Frank Dorsey by the Ladies of Charity Association of the Archdiocese of Washington.