Historic Cherry Hill
The Historic Cherry Hill Collection
The Van Rensselaer-Rankin family amassed several lifetimes and several households worth of personal papers and possessions during their 176 years of occupancy at Cherry Hill. In April of 1963 when Emily Rankin, the last surviving family member, passed away, the house and its contents became the Historic Cherry Hill Collection -- a completely intact assemblage of one family's material possessions spanning five generations and over three hundred years of American history.
Today, the Historic Cherry Hill collection totals over 20,000 objects and 30,000 manuscript documents, all directly connected to the Van Rensselaer-Rankin occupants of Cherry Hill. Though vast, and sometimes mundane, the collection contains important components that further our knowledge of the past.
Although the collection was amassed over a long period with the dual motives of accumulating family history and throwing away as little as possible, the resulting collection contains some very rare and fine examples of American material culture. In addition, the family kept their own meticulous records regarding the history and provenance of individual objects as well as records of changes they made including furniture movement, placement, restoration, and decoration. Often, objects have a web of associated tangential material such as notes, photographs, letters, family lore and old parts that were removed and replaced but never disposed of.
A wealth of information for scholars of social history and material culture, Cherry Hill is a unique resource because of the well-documented provenance of its very non-traditional collection. Historic Cherry Hill proudly cares for the family's ENTIRE estate from the lowliest toothbrush to the rarest 18th century silver tankard and everything in between.
Collection Spotlight: Lacquer Worktable
This object was owned by three separate women at Cherry Hill in Albany, New York. Now on loan to Historic Cherry Hill from the Albany Institute of History & Art, the table's socio-historical significance is explored by Historic Cherry Hill Curator Deborah Emmons-Andarawis.