Scope and Content Note
The Frances Lichten Research Collection contains a wide range of material: newspaper and magazine articles, manuscripts for articles and lectures, drawings and sketches, notes, photographs, painted images and fragile ephemera from the Victorian era, correspondence, and business and personal records. Though primarily made up of files compiled for research purposes, there is some overlap between her personal and professional research files. Much of the work contained in the Pennsylvania German series was completed well before Lichten came to work at the Museum. She likely drew from this past research to inform her work as a Research Associate. This collection offers a view of a holistic method of thinking and conducting research. Everything here is related, whether connections are obvious on the surface or not.
Frances Lichten was a collector. She clipped articles and advertisements from magazines and newspapers that had relevance to the project she was working on at the time. It seems clear that few of these images were used for actual publication, but they connected to facilitate the development of larger ideas. Visual images played a crucial role in her thinking process, creating a catalyst for a concept that had yet to become a fully realized idea.
There are seeds for new projects everywhere in the pages of these files. She layered idea on top of idea, literally stapling small scraps of paper to larger ones to create a map of a concept. She attached drawings to photographs and news clippings. Interspersed with magazine articles and watercolor sketches are delicate objects from the Victorian era. There was less concern for the sanctity of a particular object than for the interweaving of ideas, images, and authoritative notes.