“I don’t call myself a historian,” Elizabeth Farmer Jarvis admits. “I call myself a curator. There is a difference.”
For someone who doesn’t consider herself a historian, Liz (as she is universally known) is putting on one heck of an act. In June, her third pictorial history of Northwest Philadelphia, Mount Airy, will be released by Arcadia Publishing. Arcadia was also the publisher of Jarvis’ previous books, Chestnut Hill (co-authored with the writer of this article in 2002) and Chestnut Hill Revisited (2004).
Besides her writing, Liz Jarvis has served as curator of the Chestnut Hill Historical Society (CHHS) since 1993. She has also advised other local institutions like the Awbury Arboretum on how to preserve and manage their historical collections. As a board member, she has lent her expertise to Wyck, the Germantown Historical Society, and the Springfield Township Historical Society. On an individual level, she has labored to save personal photos and letters from destruction, preserving the ephemera that paint a picture of daily life in decades past. For many people, Liz Jarvis personifies historic preservation in Chestnut Hill.