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Paul Eshelman papers


Held at: The Center for Art in Wood [Contact Us]141 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the The Center for Art in Wood. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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Paul W. Eshelman (1906-1977) was a well known wood craftsman and professor in the Industrial Arts Department at Millersville State College (renamed Millersville University in 1983) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

"Born in Elizabethtown [(PA)], he was a son of...John and Amanda Witmer Eshelman. He was the husband of Janet Singley Eshelman.

"Eshelman was a graduate of Elizabethtown College and he received a master's degree from Columbia University. He also attended New York University and Temple University.

"Eshelman was a member of the MSC [(Millersville State College)] industrial arts department for 25 years [(1947-1972)]. Before that he taught at McCaskey High School and in the Penn Manor and Coatesville school districts.

"Although he was highly regarded as a teacher, Eshelman was, perhaps, best known as a wood turner- a master of the lathe.

"Eshelman primarily used local woods such as walnut, wild cherry, and ash for his works. Much of his wood was obtained from fallen trees.

"Bowls were Eshelman's specialty, but the craftsman also made furniture, candlesticks and various other utilitarian objects. He also made several bird carvings."

Eshelman's wood creations won several awards and were exhibited widely. In 1958, his work was exhibited along with four other wood artists (Wharton Esherick, Bob Stocksdale, James Prestini and Bruno Groth) in the American Pavilion at the Brussels World's Fair. Some of his work is in the collections at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.

Eshelman's wife, Janet, was also an artisan, known for her weaving and leatherwork. They sometimes held joint shows at Millersville State College and often demonstrated their skills in a variety of forums, including the State Craft Fair, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. Eshelman and his wife were among the earliest members of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen and Paul served as its president in 1952 and 1953. They lived in Rohrerstown, PA, a small residential community just outside of Lancaster.


Quoted text from: "Paul Eshelman Dies, Was MSC Professor." July 23, 1977. Newspaper clipping viewed in the collection on May 14, 2014.

This collection consists of a scrapbook, a notebook, a photograph, and newspaper clippings, all of which relate to the artist Paul W. Eshelman or his work. The scrapbook has images cut out from magazines, mostly of objects made through the woodturning process such as candlesticks and rolling pins, circa 1970s. The notebook contains sketches, names and addresses of other woodturners, some financial records, and other lists, circa 1952-1953. The photograph is a color portrait of a woman. The clippings are oversize and photocopied and are about the Eshelmans. Also available on-site are books owned by the Eshelmans.

Donated by Hayden Cochran, circa 2005.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact The Center for Art in Wood directly for more information.

The Center for Art in Wood
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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