Rediscovering Pennsylvania's artifact at a time

They were the daughters of the governor of New Sweden, a 17th-century colony settled near present-day Philadelphia.

Armegott Printz, one of the most well-known women in the colony, managed her father’s properties long after he had returned to Sweden, represented her family’s interests in court and operated a liquor distillery

Less is known about Armegott’s sister, Christina, who left New Sweden in 1653 never to return.

What is certain about both siblings is how they appeared during their lifetimes.
Christina Printz (orange dress) and her sister, Armegott Printz.  Both lived in New Sweden, near present-day Philadelphia. 
Lost for years, portraits of Christina and Armegott were rediscovered around 1960 in the attic of a church parsonage in Sweden and donated to The State Museum of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission as launched a digital effort, dubbed Pennsylvania Treasures, aimed at sharing rediscovered artifacts, such as the Printz paintings, and their stories with the public.

The commission has, so far, posted four of these artifacts via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Two years ago, the museum set in motion a program designed to better inventory and catalog its collections.

The commission folded many of the specific recommendations made by a 2010 state collections audit into that inventory and cataloging project

"Inventory is a part of basic housekeeping of any healthy collection,” said Mary Jane H. Miller, head of the museum’s collections management section. "We inventory periodically. It helps you know what you have and allows you to see the condition it’s in. You can compare the inventory you have with your written records to ensure everything is where it's supposed to be.”

Most museums, the state’s repository included, exhibit only a portion of their collections.

And many of the artifacts, much like the Printz portraits, come with stories that add to their intrinsic value.

For example, David Ramsey’s trio of battlefield wounds would have likely garnered him a mention in the annals of Civil War oddities, but it’s what happened 30 years after his death that brought the soldier to the historical forefront.

David Ramsey’s Gillmore Medal
While cleaning out a rail car on the Northern Central Railroad, workers stumbled upon Ramsey’s Gillmore Medal.

He earned the rare military decoration, so named after Maj. Gen Quincy A. Gillmore, for bravery demonstrated during the 1863 Siege of Charleston, said Bradley K. Smith, curatorial administrator with The State Museum of Pennsylvania.

“We have no idea how it got [on the rail car]," Smith said. "It's a big mystery.”

The medal is now on display, along with other Civil War-related artifacts, at the State Museum.


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