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Hello from the staff at the Wagner Free Institute of Science!

We [@phillyhistory] are completely new to the blockchain world and still trying to figure things out how everything works. But first, who are we?

The Wagner Free Institute of Science is an educational institution and natural history museum founded in 1855 to provide free education in the sciences to the public. But, we are so much more than that! Today we continue to offer free college level evening courses, we offer standalone lectures on scientific and historic topics, and we have a robust children’s education program that furthers our reach into the Philadelphia public schools. On top of that, in 1990 our building and collections were designated a National Historic Landmark that we now preserve and interpret as an example of Victorian-era natural history and science education.

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  • The Wagner Free Institute of Science, 17th and Montgomery Ave., Philadelphia.
    Left in 1865 and Right in 2005.

The Wagner’s museum houses over 100,000 natural history specimens that founder William Wagner and Institute curators and faculty acquired through collecting, purchasing, and trading in the 19th-century. The collections, arranged in the 1880s, today maintain their original systematic display in wood and glass cabinets. The Wagner’s library and archiveshouses over 45,000 volumes from the 17th to early 20th century and papers, correspondence, journals, scrapbooks, pictorial materials all relating to the founding and running of the Institute.


  • Museum, Wagner Free Institute of Science. Photo by David Graham.

What drives us to explore the blockchain world?

We want more people to know about the incredible collections that we have at the Wagner. And we have the opportunity to find ways of doing this in the blockchain world thanks to the work of a Temple University public history class. The @phillyhistory blog was started and maintained by the students and professor of the graduate level course “Nonprofit Management for Historians.” At the end of the semester, they gifted the blog they created and its profits to the Wagner Free Institute of Science.

Our goal is to be able to continue the Temple University-Wagner Free Institute Fellowship Program with funds earned here. This fellowship program was created to stimulate opportunities for Temple faculty and graduate students in the creative and academic disciplines to work with the historic collections at the Wagner Free Institute of Science.


  • Collection items from the library, archives, and museum at the Wagner Free Institute of Science.

Our immediate goal is to better understand the blockchain world and Steemit and to explore the new and exciting ways a cultural institution can add to and benefit from the Steemit community. We hope to do this by presenting historic materials from our library, archives, and museum collections and asking – How can these historic materials be used to explore our history? What other areas of research can be explored? What new and creative projects can be created from these resources?

Our biggest question so far –

How to we engage the Steemit community in what we are doing?

As we said before, we are completely new to the blockchain world. And, we may be the first and only cultural/historical institution in the Steem world (I haven’t been able to find another). How do we find and build a community in the blockchain? Who is our audience? And what can we do to engage them? Our first few posts are about how others have found inspiration in our historic collections. What else should we post about? On the flipside, who should we be following and how can we engage with what others are doing in the blockchain world?

Let me switch to the first person for a moment as the one who is writing the majority of content for the Wagner. I am Lynn, the Special Collections Librarian at the Wagner. I specialize in working with rare books, photographic materials, and archival materials. And, since working at the Wagner, natural history specimens. So, as you can see, I work with objects – providing access to them, preserving them, describing them. And I love doing this work! How can I use these skills in the Steem world? How can I fit the Steem world into my daily workflow? I also ask a lot of questions – to myself, as well as others!

I hope to be able to engage with the Steem community more effectively and more often over the next few months. And we, the Wagner, want to share with the Steem community the wonders of our history and collections. We hope to be a source of inspiration and a site of open discussion.

This post was authored by @phillyhistory, a member of the sndbox incubator. Learn more, follow @phillyhistory or begin a conversation in the comment section below.