Collections FAQs

The Online Collections portal project is a Work in Progress. There are over 130,000 objects, images, books and photographs that make up the Atwater Kent Collection. Our team has been working on updating the collections management database and examining every object in the collection. In this process we are updating descriptions, taking measurements, examining background paperwork and provenance as well as taking photographs to identify and document each object. 

We previewed 501 objects during the summer of 2022 and are debuting 1,201 objects in the Online Collections in 2023. We will be adding more images and documentation each month. Please check back often for more information. 

 The Atwater Kent Collection at Drexel is maintaining all legacy Catalog Numbers (aka Object ID) for objects and items in the collection. Some details to help understand numbering and dating:

  • Catalog Numbers that start with numbers are from the former Atwater Kent Museum collection / Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent collection. Anything that starts with a 38 – 09 is from the Atwater Kent Museum era and anything 10 – 22 is from the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent era. “38” is representative of items added to the collection in 1938 just as “10” is representative of items added to the collection in 2010.
  • Catalog Numbers that start with “HSP” are from the former 3-dimensional object collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, transferred to the Atwater Kent Museum in 1999.  

As mentioned above, there are two distinct eras of contemporary history for the former museum. Atwater Kent Museum operated from 1938 -2009. The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent was the “new era” of the museum after a significant renovation of the museum galleries and a rebranding. This began in 2010 until the museum ultimately closed on June 30, 2018.

 Starting with three-dimensional objects, the collections team created a series of 44 Evaluation Categories to group like items together – there could be hundreds of categories, but the team needed a manageable grouping for streamlining the process. Many objects can fit into multiple categories and some objects have been moved to a category with a better fit upon physical examination. The categories help with organizing the data and objects together in information gathering and making connections between subjects, people and item classifications. 

Two-dimensional objects are going through a similar process, however they currently are being organized by type, such as Trade Cards, Bills and Receipts, and Prints (to name a few). When items fit within an Evaluation Category, they are assigned that in a section of our database for further linking 3-D and 2-D materials.

Please be advised that some of the images in the online portal may include derogatory, offensive graphic images or original language and may not be suitable for all viewers. All images, titles and inscriptions are products of their time and their creators and not the views of the Atwater Kent Collection at Drexel. The Atwater Kent Collection continues to catalog the items in the collection while addressing shifts in language and society. We appreciate any input to improve our cataloging efforts and the understanding of our collection.