Monday, December 31, 2012

Upcoming collection: Community Medical Center

The Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives team are super excited about the launch of a new collection this winter.  It's an archive of the Community Medical Center from its origins as Hahnemann Hospital to almost current times. There are going to be scrapbooks, photos, graduation programs, and other items relating to the history of the hospital.  We plan to have this collection available online in mid February so stay tuned for this wonderful collection.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Scranton Christmas Windows

Now is the perfect time to visit the Scranton Christmas Windows collection in the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives.In 2009 Gene Giancini was cleaning out a building on the West Side of Scranton. His family had operated a business in the building for 60 years, and he was in the process of selling it. He found, stacked in the corner, old photos of Christmas window displays from Household Outfitting Company, 306-314 Lackawanna Ave. The entire collection appears in the LVDA.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Pennsylvania Guardsman

The Pennsylvania Guardsmen was a magazine published about the Pennsylvania National Guard. This periodical contained stories about the Guard and what they were doing at the time. This issue released in the Fall of 1955 focused on the National Guard deployed in Northeast Pennsylvania after Hurricane Diane.  The magazine features photographs of the disaster along with the story behind it.  If your interested in the National Guard the whole magazine was scanned in our digital archive.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Interview with Hurricane Diane Victim

Jim Keenan remembers Hurricane Diane vividly because his family home in East Scranton was swept away in the flood waters. This video interview is one of several in the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives where witnesses and survivors recount their personal memories of the flood.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Feel Free to Correct Us

This photo below shows the damage Hurricane Diane inflicted on the Delware, Lackawanna, and Western railroad tracks near Nay Aug Park. Many historians believe this was the death knell for the DL&W. Herein lies an interesting lesson. When this collection first went live, we erroneously stated that this was the Erie-Lackawanna right-of-way. A user of our collection pointed out that the merger between the DL&W and the Erie post-dated Hurricane Diane. We verified that the merger did indeed occur 1960, five years after the flood, so the information has been corrected. When we enter metadata for items in our collection, we work with the best information we have available at the time, but sometimes it is incomplete or incorrect so, if you know something we don't, feel free to correct us either by commenting on a blog post, commenting in the archives itself, or by sending an email to We really appreciate your input.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Richter Avenue Flooding

The above picture is one of the many photos that can be found in the Hurricane Diane collection on the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives. This photo scanned from the collection of James Keenan shows the damage the Roaring Brook did to the area and especially the houses on Richter Avenue.  In the photo above, the water is flowing down what is left of the street.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

WDAU-TV Footage of Hurricane Diane

Anyone who grew up in Scranton in the 1950s through the 1970s knows that WDAU-TV (Channel 22) was "the Scranton station" and WBRE-TV (Channel 28) was the "Wilkes-Barre station" until mergers and acquistions changed the landscape of the local TV market. Footage from WDAU-TV's nightly news program is stored in the basement of the WBRE building in Wilkes-Barre and is a tresure trove of mid-20th Century local history. Thanks to Jack Scanella, a retried WDAU photographer who maintains an index to the footage, and Tom Gregory, a current WBRE-TV photographer, we were able to find the reels pertaining to Hurricane Diane and have them digitized. This haunting, soundless footage records the devastion wrought by Diane in and around the Scranton area.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hurricane Diane is now ONLINE!!

The Hurricane Diane collection is now available on the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives website. The library is very excited about this collection because it contains video histories, recorded histories, and photos from our community and also from some of our original partners, which includes the Lackawanna Historical Society and Steamtown National Historic Site. The photo above is one of the many photos in this collection.  You will find 83 items which includes actual TV footage of the flood. Check it out!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Does anyone know his story?


The photo above is Civil War veteran Samuel N. Callender in his Ezra Griffin Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Post 139 uniform.
I have always been interested in the stories behind these pictures and was wondering if anyone knows his story.  Where did he live? Where did he serve in the Civil War? According to one source he lived in Scranton in 1900, but if you can verify this, please comment as I am sure other reader's will be as interested as myself. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Collections Scheduled for Release

Two new LVDA collections are scheduled for release in the coming months. First, in October, is Rising Waters: The Devastation and Aftermath of Hurricane Diane which will feature photographs, articles, video interviews, and TV footage from the flood that devasted Northeastern Pennsylvania in August 1955. Then, in January of 2013, we have The History of the Community Medical Center which will contains photographs, scrapbooks, and other historical information from this storied health care provider.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A View of Reference

As a Reference Librarian I always love to look at old pictures of public library Reference Departments.  In this case its my own.  This photo comes from the History of the Scranton Public Library archive.  Last week there was a post of the circulation desk and this week a look at the Scranton Public Library Reference Room.  Based on the style of hat the woman is wearing I believe we may be looking at the 1920s or early 30s.  I would like to point out that while the chairs aren't here anymore one of the tables can still be found in the department.  If you are in Scranton or live in the area please come into the library its an architectural gem!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Library Circulation Desk

The History of the Scranton Public Library collection in the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives contains this photo of a the library's main Circulation Desk. It is undated, but we believe it dates from the first half of the 20th Century. Unlike today this area was enclosed and separated from the foyer and the rest of the Main Floor by two glass paritions. Obviously, there are no computers in this photo. Everything was manual. The window facing the camera was removed in the early 1990s to install a handicapped access door and ramp. The ramp is currently being replaced by an elevator which, for the first time in the library's history, will give patrons with limited mobility access to the 2nd Floor Reference and Periodical Rooms.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Coal Companies and Railroads

The photo above is the image of James Archbald the 5th. Please disregard the spot on his nose as a jokester filled in his nostril.

James Archbald was named after his father James Archbald the 4th and he and his father were known as the developers of the coal companies and railroads; the Delaware & Hudson and the Delaware, Lackawanna, & Western.  According to the History of Scranton by Frederick Hitchcock the Archbald's ran these companies for over 70 years.

The James pictured above served in the Civil War in Company I, 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteers. He was a captain that fought at the Battle of South Mountain, and Antietam.  On January 25, 1865 he married Maria H. Albright and they had six children.  James Archbald died on October 4, 1910 in Venice Italy while on a 3 month vacation with his wife.

-More information about James Archbald can be found in the History of Scranton by Frederick Hitchcock starting on page 660.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Go Lackawanna Article on Hurricane Diane Collection

The latest issue of Go Lackawanna contains a story on the Hurricane Diane collection which is currently in development. You can see the article here or at your nearest newstand.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Price of Services in 1862

The above receipt is one of the wonderful items found in the Out of the Wilderness collection on the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives.  This is a receipt for burial expenses for a Z.W Knight in Waverly Pennsylvania on February 8, 1962.  Charles Carpenter paid $8.50 for the coffin and attendance at the funeral for Mr. Knight.  All I can say is "Wow!" This could have been a fortune to someone in 1862.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm a NEPA Kid!

A new collection as been added to the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives. It is called I'm a NEPA Kid! Funded by a grant from the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority, it contains video interviews with family members conducted, filmed, and edited by kids. These interviews shed light on Scranton's recent history.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Needed: Hurricane Diane Photos and Memories

We are working on a collection that will document Hurricane Diane which devasted the area in August of 1955, and you can be a part of it.

Do you have photographs?
We will scan the photo, make a digital copy for the archives, and  return the original to you. To submit photos, contact Martina Soden. Phone: 570-348-3000 x3008    Email:

Do you have memories of Hurricane Diane?
We are collecting video histories of people who witnessed the flooding. This is a chance to share your memories. For questions about video interviews, contact Scott Thomas. Phone: 570-207-2379  Email:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Posters of Poetry Readings

The Friends of the Scranton Public Library Series collection in the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives contains images of original posters. The posters were drawn by Carol Gargan, an artist, poet, and retired educator, based on photos of the poets. Thank you to David Elliott who retrieved the posters from his personal archives and to Ms. Gargan who gave us permission to scan them and make them available. This poster is from Robert Creeley's reading which took place on April 13, 1988. These days Carol can be found tending the Kosciuska Healing Garden where East Market Street meets the Lackawanna River in Scranton.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hindsight: Panel Discussion about Poetry Series

If you would like to know the story behind the Friends of the Scranton Public Library Poetry Series collection, you may be interested in this recent video. David Elliott, Brian Quinn, Carol Gargan, and Jerry Grealish, who were all instrumental in establishing and carrying out the original series, talk to moderator Scott Thomas about how the series originated and its signficance and share stories about the poets.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Poetry Reading by Robert Bly

One of the more unusual performances in the Friends of the Scranton Public Library Poetry Series was by Robert Bly on November 10, 1985. Not content to merely read his work, Bly incorporated his own lute playing and a classical Indian dance performance by Neena Gulati. At around 6:28 Bly asks "David" for a Kleenex. This would be David Elliott, Professor of English at Keystone College and one of the driving forces behind the series. Mr. Bly, wanting to be clean- shaven for his reading, had apparently cut himself and was not fully healed by the time he reached the podium. Please note that Mr. Bly's performance, due to its length, is split into Part One and Part Two.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Poetry Reading by Gary Snyder

This reading by Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder from October 17, 1978 is the earliest in the Friends of the Scranton Public Library Poetry Series. Snyder was actually the fourth reader in the series, but was the first poet whose performance was filmed. The reading was held in the Everhart Museum. You can see paintings in the background. Note that, during David Elliott's introduction, he mentions the Scranton Area Foundation as a funder for the series. They also, 34 years later, funded this restoration project. We were not aware of this when we approached them for funding. Why were we not aware? Because we were unable to play the film reels. Thanks to the Scranton Area Foundation, we now have access to these historic readings. Snyder's performance mixes his interest in Zen Buddhism and a concern for the environment with irreverent humor. One can assume that the "Batman Song" at 20:40 is non-canonical. Here is a direct link to the reading.

Monday, June 4, 2012

New LVDA Collection: Friends of the Scranton Public Library Poetry Series

From 1978 through the early 2000’s, the Friends of the Scranton Public Library Poetry Series brought nationally renowned poets to the Scranton area to read their work. Poets included such literary giants as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Robert Bly, Scranton native W.S. Merwin, and nearly 50 others. Most of these readings were filmed. Thanks to a grant from the Scranton Area Foundation, the library has restored the original films. They are now available for checkout on DVD at the Albright Library and are being streamed from the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives.

Friday, June 1, 2012

RT. Rev. Michael J. Hoban

RT. Rev. Michael J. Hoban was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton in 1896.  He also served on the Scranton Public Library Board of Directors in the early 1900's.  The picture above was believed to have been taken when he served on the board for the library.

Rt. Rev. Hoban was born on June 6, 1853 in New Jersey, but grew up in Hawley Pennsylvania.  Educated at home and having attended many collages and seminary's including the American College in Rome.  He was ordained a priest on May 22, 1885 and became a pastor at St. John's Church in Troy. During his time he served on many institutions including president of St. Patrick's Orphan Asylum, director of the State Hospital, and West Mountain Sanatorium. 

*The information obtained for this article was gathered from Frederick Hitchcock's History of Scranton.*

Friday, May 18, 2012

Printers Honor Ben Franklin in 1906

In December of 1906 it seems that anyone who was involved with printing in the City of Scranton participated in a banquet to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth. As one might expect, the accompanying program, available in the from Lace Makers to Coal Miners collection, is not your run-of-the-mill two page affair. Instead, it is an elaborate, beautifully designed, and expertly printed monograph. The dinner was held at Elk's Hall, and there were plenty of toasts from dignitaries. The menu page contains a quote from Franklin: "Better to go to bed supperless than rise in debt." Given the menu of oyster cocktail, salmon patties, Niersteiner wine, tenderloin of beef, roast turkey stuffed, brick ice cream, Polish nectar, and cigars, the attendees certainly did not go to bed supperless. One can assume from the quote that the bill was satisifed by the end of the night.

Friday, May 4, 2012

First Library Patrons

From what we can tell, this photograph, which is part of the From Lace Makers to Coal Miners collection, dates from 1893 when the Albright Memorial Library was first opened to the public. On the back of the photo are the names Stanley Sassiewicz and Shenko Patnovich. We cannot confirm that these were indeed the first patrons and if the names are even correct, but it is interesting to note that the names are Eastern European in nature. These ethnic groups were not widely represented in the power struture of Scranton at the time, and the inclusion of the names, whether staged or genuine, demonstrate how the library was intended to serve everyone regardless of class and ethnicity.              

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dunmore Borough Directory

City Directories can contain useful information to genealogist as well as individuals researching the history of a house.  These books are well liked and used so this was an important addition to the LVDA. This early 1900's book contains an alphabetical listing of every adult that was living in Dunmore. Children are not listed if they didn't have jobs.  On the first page of this resource are the names and locations of the fire departments, post office, and the borough officials in office in 1903-1904.  This book can also be found on Internet Archive along with other Lackawanna County books that can be downloaded to a eReader, printed, or you can read them online.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Scranton Lace Fabrics and Embroideries

The Scranton Lace Company, which closed in 2002, was the subject of the History Channel TV show Abandoned.
In From Lace Makers to Coal Miners, you can examine samples of Scranton Lace products from its heydey. Check out Interior Decorative Fabrics & Embroideries of Quality and Style. The pages with the light blue background contain actual samples of the product. Be sure to zoom in to see the details. Each sample has a number which references brief descriptions of the product.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

First District Attorney of Lackawanna County

Frederick W. Gunster (1845-1900) was the first District Attorney of Lackawanna County, which he became in 1878.  He was an influential man and was one of the credited individuals who pushed for the creation of Lackawanna County. One of the many other positions that he held in the city was a trustee of the Albright Memorial Library from which we believe the dates in the picture above relate to.  According to the History of Lackawanna County Pennsylvania by Thomas Murphy, Gunster also served as an attorney for the City of Scranton and also served as an attorney for the School Board. That service lasted 15 years.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Charity in Scranton

Charity in Scranton, an item from 1914 included in "From Lace Makers to Coal Miners," provides a fasincating glimpse into how society cared for its poor in an era that pre-dates New Deal programs. A sampling of 810 of families "given relief" in 1913 shows a community in which the family was dependent on the ability ot the male to perform his backbreaking duties in the coal mines. Reasons why families were placed on "relief:" Widowed (323), Desertion (211), Sick (136), TB (20), Accident (33), Husband in Jail (7), Unemployment (2), Old Age (37), Feeble Minded (2), Blind (7), Husband Won't Work (4), Permanent Disability (6), Insane (7), Large Family (1), Drunk (4), Miscellaneous (4).

Friday, March 30, 2012

Please Take Our Survey

Please take our brief survey on how on how historical documents, in both on-line and physical formats, are used in the Scranton Area. This will help us plan for future Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives collections. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Father of a Future Governor of New York

The Reverend Dr. David Charles Hughes was born on June 24, 1832 and died on December 15, 1909. He was a reverend in Scranton in the early 1890's and served on the Scranton Public Library Board of Directors, but he was also known as a father of a very important and well-known man in politics.  D.C Hughes had one child; Charles Evans Hughes who served as a Governor of New York from 1906-1910. D.C Hughes actually passed away in the Governor's Mansion while his son was governor of New York, according to an article published in the New York Times on December 16, 1909.

Charles Evans Hughes, besides serving as Governor of New York would also become an Associate Judge of the United States Supreme Court serving from 1910-1916.  He ran for President of the United States, but lost to Woodrow Wilson, was a Secretary of State (1921-1925), and then became a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1930.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Program from 1918 Philharmonic Concert

Scranton is famous for its Vaudeville venues, but high-brow entertainment had its place as well. The "From Lace Makers to Coal Miners" collection contains a program from a Philharmonic Concert given on April 15, 1918 at The Casino (337 Adams Ave.). Mr. Harold Bauer is the pianist and the pieces he plays are not suprising; Beethoven's Sonata in C Major, plenty of Schumann, some Chopin and Liszt. There is an interesting mystery surrounding this artifact. There are nearly illegible words hand-written at the bottom of the third page. One appears to "Brahms." Why would someone write Brahams on a program for a show that supposedly contained no works by Brahms? Wishful thinking? A review in the April 16, 1918 Scranton Times reveals the answer: "For a final encore, Mr. Bauer played a Brahms waltz with a touch at once...caressing and delicate..."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Who is this person?

I'm sure that everyone has found a photo or two, three, four, or many more and wondered "Who is this person?" These pictures are usually really old photos of men, women and children sitting in chairs or standing in a group pose with barely a smile.  Some of the people look very stiff, while others look extremely confident.  Colonel Henry Martyn Boies pictured above is an example of an extremely confident man whose picture can be found in the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives.

According to Col. Henry Boies (1837-1903) biography in The Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Boies lived a very illustrious life.  His bio is five pages filled with information about his successful business career. Among some of his highlights is being an incorporator of the Third National Bank of Scranton. He also served as the director of this institution for 10 years. Boies was successful in organizing and starting many businesses and invented and had patents as well. In 1878 he became a Colonel in the Pennsylvania National Guards Thirteenth Regiment. Boies was also a member and President of the Scranton Board of Trade. Last, but not least he was a member of the Albright Memorial Library board of directors. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Introducing from "From Lace Makers to Coal Miners"

We would like to introduce our newest collecton, "From Lacemakers to Coal Miners: Life in the Lackawanna Valley 1866-1920." Funded by a grant from the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority, this collection features 41 tems from the library's own collection including a 1917-1918 program from the Scranton Philharmonic, a 1914 study on charity organizations in Scranton, and a book about the products of the Scranton Lace Company. For more information, see the article in Go Lackawanna or just enter the archives.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Welcome to Our New Blog

Welcome to the new Lackwanna Valley Digital Archives blog. Stay tuned for updates on exciting new collections!