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Warren County map
From left: Amanda Snyder, graduate student  in Clarion University MSLS program; Marti Swanson, reference assistant, Warren Public Library; James Maccaferri, associate professor of library science at Clarion University; Penny Wolboldt, reference librarian, Warren Public Library; Rhonda Clark, assistant professor of library science, Clarion University.

When rummaging around the attic space of her family’s 1860s home in Titusville, Rhonda Clark looked closely at what appeared to be a pile of old window shades, but discovered one was actually a large wall map of Warren County, Pa., dating from the year 1900. The map had some water damage and brittleness but offered a wealth of potential information, such as locations of schools and railroads at the turn of the century. 

Clark, a faculty member in Clarion University Department of Library Science and an active member of the Titusville Historical Society, knew the map had great historical value to the right owner.  She decided that the map belonged in Warren County, if the historical society or library did not already own it. In fact, only a few copies of this map are recorded in library catalogs in the U.S., including one at the Library of Congress that eventually will be provided digitally through their site.

 “These maps provide all sorts of interesting insights into the past,” Clark said. “They give us a snapshot of a region at a particular time, including the locations of landmarks and railroad lines that may no longer exist.”  

Clark took the map to Clarion University Department of Library Science.  Her colleague, Dr. James Maccaferri, took on the map as a preservation teaching project and oversaw student work to clean and do basic repairs on it. Maccaferri said he is always looking for projects of this kind, "since students appreciate the opportunity for authentic learning that they present and because they are such excellent vehicles for promoting the university's programs to the community."

Amanda Snyder, a graduate student in the MSLS program at Clarion, spent dozens of hours painstakingly piecing bits of the map that were loose and cleaning the entire surface.  

Snyder reported that working on the map provided her great practical experience in preservation and increased her interest in archives. 

Once the map had been cleaned and mended, the public library in Warren was contacted.  Reference librarian Penny Wolboldt was delighted at being offered the map for the library’s local history collection. The Warren Public Library answers thousands of reference requests and questions a year dealing with genealogy and local history.  The map promises to provide valuable information to assist in this work. 

 “It is especially exciting that the wall size Official Map of Warren County, Pennsylvania, was compiled and published by N.B. Brakenridge in Warren, Pennsylvania, in 1900,” Wolboldt said. “The map shows county and court officers’ names, elevations, turnpikes, post offices, railroad stations, schools, township boundaries, towns, roads, streams and oil and gas information, and is printed  in three colors. One of the most desirable qualities of this map is the notation of the County's landowners, providing a record of who owned land, where they resided and an outline of their tract(s). These wall maps are exceptionally rare and very useful for research.”

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

1/30/2013 2:14 PM

Historic Warren County map finds its way home