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Rachel Lim ’12 at Cliveden.
Rachel Lim ’12 at Cliveden.

A Summer at Cliveden

The city of Philadelphia is famous for historical sites such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. But this summer, political science major Rachel Lim ’12 is getting the opportunity to explore a lesser known site called Cliveden, an historic home that played an important role in the Revolutionary War.

During her internship, funded by the John B. Hurford ’60 Humanities Center, Lim is studying the 1777 Battle of Germantown, which took place on the grounds of Cliveden. The British, under Colonel Thomas Musgrave, occupied the stone house, and with only muskets and bayonets fought off an attack by George Washington’s army, which was sent back down Germantown Avenue in defeat.

“The most exciting part of the internship so far has been exploring Cliveden and acquainting myself with seven generations of the Chew Family who lived [here],” says Lim.  “The Chews were a very prominent, influential, and wealthy family in Philadelphia.  Interestingly, they were hoarders, and they saved enormous collections of family papers, documents, photographs, and letters all throughout their time at Cliveden.”

Recently, Cliveden opened a new area to visitors.  Called the kitchen dependency, it is a building on the side of the main house where Cliveden's servants lived and worked. Lim saw in the empty room an opportunity to create something truly unique and proposed setting up a small exhibit. Her creativity and hard work were rewarded when she received a $1,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to create a self designed exhibition titled "Touch & See in the Kitchen Dependency.” Guests will enjoy panels that feature information on the site’s architecture, servants, the kitchen dependency and documents from seven generations of the Chew family.

The focal point, however, will be a touch screen computer that will make the presentation interactive. “I'm designing a PowerPoint program full of hyperlinks so that visitors can touch the computer screen to learn more about Cliveden, its history, and the stories of the people who lived there,” Lim explains. “The computer will also be used for visitors to record their own personal thoughts about their experience at Cliveden, by using the webcam on the computer.”

--Stephen W. Handlon ’13

Prof. Anita Isaacs (Political Science) and students cross Founders Green after class.

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