TraditionAndTheIndividualMemory

TraditionAndTheIndividualMemory - j\V.S.~LU Sr\v~IC:S...

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iJ!I , ~ 'ill r {~ . --------- IAn An iT~f>.'j -) cJ ~ \ucb_ (\\<:<;<nt-:S Gv ~ ~~ l\. C'L~,J. 0 16<-b..J~ j'(\V.S.~LU'-\Sr\v~IC:S lS~-\-h/~ Et'A. ?",S J 2ocr...{ TERESA BARNETT TItL\DITION AND TIlE IND IVID VAL MEMORY Tbe Cible of CbrMtian C. Sanderdon THIRTY MILES SOUTHWESTof Philadelphia lies the town of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Tourists can stop there. to see the Brandywine Art Museum, which features paintings by local artists N. C. and Andrew Wyeth, or, a little to the south, Henry Francis du Pont's Winterthur mansion, with its period rooms displaying two hundred years of American crafts and deco- rative arts. Just outside Chadds Ford itself is the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Brandywine and, some twenty miles to the north, the more well known Revolutionary landmark of Valley Forge. As the guidebooks are fond of pointing out, it is an area that has numerous structures dating back to Revolutionary and even pre-Revolutionary times. Everywhere tourists are ac- costed by history--by markers and monuments and historic houses and mini-malls decked out in colonial mode. Everywhere they turn, history makes demands on them, it solicits them. It bids them as an act of national and cultural duty to take note, remember. Among the sites that can be visited in Chadds Ford is the Christian C. Sanderson Museum, a museum which, though it certainly commemorates the past, can hardly be called historic in any usual sense of the word. It does not teach us more about the events or causes of any war; it does not allowus to re- flect on the life and work of an avowedly great man such as Andrew Wyeth. What the Sanderson Museum commemorates is the life of one single rela- [ 221 ] - --. -.--
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------ TERESA BARNETT tively unknown individual: local resident and sometime schoolteacher Christ- ian Sanderson. Sanderson was born in 1882in Port Providence, Pennsylvania, but he spent more than half of his life in Chadds Ford. Upon his death in 1966 fiiends took the unusual step of turning his entire house into a museum, a museum that was assuredly intended to honor Sanderson himself but that, more importantly, would serve to house his collections, the endless assort- ment of things with which his home was filled. Some of these collections were fairly conventional, made up of objects that have been staples of Amer- ican collecting for years: stamps, autographs, arrowheads, bullets and can- nonballs dug up at battle sites. But Sanderson's zeal for collecting went well beyond the hobbyist's decorous spare hours' pastime. A photograph of the house taken shortly after his death shows a desktop vanishing under an ava- lanche of papers and memorabilia. His bed was reportedly piled four feet high with newspapers, his bathtub stuffed with books and souvenirs. Some areas were completely impassible: the back bedroom, for instance, had long been sealed off by the mound of steadily accumulating artifacts in the hall.
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