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AARCH Collection Archiving Gets Underway


The AARCH Society has taken another important step forward in David Key’s vision of creating a permanent home showcasing Frederick County’s African American history, culture, and contributions.

In May, volunteers moved more than 80 percent of the AARCH Collection into a space in the Federated Charities Building on South Market Street in Frederick. The manuscripts, photos, and artifacts that make up the collection had been spread out among several locations and, in some cases, in less than ideal conditions for historic preservation.

With this move, the collection can be cleaned, categorized, and labeled, as the first step in meeting the standards and requirements for a permanent archival storage space.

Scott Keefer (pictured above) is leading the Collection project with a core group of 6 to 8 AARCH volunteers. Scott works as the Provincial Archivist for the Daughters of Charity Emmitsburg, MD, which operates the Mother Seton Shrine and Museum, and has been in the field for six years. He entered the profession through an internship with the Pennsylvania State Archives while in college.

Two of the most exciting pieces Scott has seen include Black Frederick activist and barber Pete Sewall’s barber chair and a Reconstruction-era voting box with a hand-painted canvas sign from the Pythian Castle saying ‘Vote Here Today.’ “The sign work itself is just beautiful,” Scott notes.

The Collection is in the early organizational stages, but Scott estimates there are between 100 and 150 artifacts taking up about 80 feet of shelving space. Ultimately, the collection will be digitized and searchable, as well. Scott is working with a core group of six to eight AARCH volunteers to organize the collection, but says it offers a great opportunity for all history lovers to get involved in something important.

“If there are students who want to be involved in history or people who want to get involved, there are opportunities to just put letters or papers in chronological order and help categorize pieces,” he notes.

The Mission of the AARCH Society is to identify, collect, preserve, and make publicly accessible through programs and services the objects, artifacts and stories about the history, heritage, culture, and contributions of African Americans in Frederick County past and present. Through this, we can educate, enrich, and enlighten current and future generations.

To volunteer with our Collection project, please email