Repopulating and Managing Black Bears in Pennsylvania

Three species of bears inhabit North America: black bears, polar bears and brown bears (including Alaskan brown bears and grizzlies). The only bear living in the eastern United States, and one that is thriving in Pennsylvania, is the American black bear (Ursus americanus). Pennsylvania’s bear population as of 2022 is estimated to be around 16,000, the result of sound, science-based wildlife...
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Repressing Disease in Cattle: The Career of Pennsylvania Veterinarian Leonard Pearson

In 1900 there were 224,248 farms and nearly a million dairy cows in Pennsylvania. The livelihood of dairy farmers depended almost entirely on the health of their cows. Dairy cows were vulnerable to a variety of diseases, but the most feared was tuberculosis. In Pennsylvania, bovine tuberculosis killed more cows than any other infectious disease, and it often destroyed entire herds. Bovine...
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A Full-Circle Moment: Three Pittsburgh Institutions Work to Secure August Wilson’s Legacy

August Wilson seemed perturbed when he met journalist Abiola Sinclair for a May 1990 interview in his favorite nook in the lobby of New York’s famed Edison Hotel. This candid session, published later in New York Amsterdam News, included the exasperated playwright’s charge that — despite having four of his American Century Cycle plays performed on Broadway — his work had not received the...
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A Place for All: Three Stories of Integration in Pennsylvania

The American Civil Rights Movement focused public attention on segregation in the South and the laws and practices that kept Southern Blacks disenfranchised. By the late 1950s places such as Montgomery, Alabama; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Greensboro, North Carolina, had become household names in the battle to dismantle the racial caste system of “Jim Crow.” But discrimination based on race, much...
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Songs of the Saron: Ephrata Cloister’s Women Composers

  In the mid-18th century, a small religious community thrived at what is known today as Ephrata Cloister on the banks of the Cocalico Creek in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County. Founded in 1732 by German immigrant Conrad Beissel (1691–1768), the group was composed of celibate Brothers and Sisters who lived lives of religious devotion and self-denial, supported in part by the married members...
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Quecreek: Remembering the Remarkable Mining Rescue 20 Years Later

The site of a massive multigovernment rescue effort to save nine miners trapped hundreds of feet below the earth’s surface is today a placid meadow with a memorial park and a museum dedicated to telling the story of four desperate days in July 2002. “It’s been a life-changing 20 years,” says Bill Arnold, executive director of the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation, located at the rescue site, part...
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Agnes: Pennsylvania’s Most Devastating Natural Disaster

The late Paul Beers, the longtime columnist for the Harrisburg Patriot-News, once wrote that some Pennsylvanians are “amazingly complacent” about the threat of flooding despite living in a state that is quite vulnerable. Back in the day, around the midpoint of the 20th century, when old-timers in Pennsylvania spoke of “the big one,” they were referring to the 1936 flood — floods plural,...
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The Paoli Local and the Birth of Pennsylvania’s Main Line

“In the year 1857, when the Columbia Railroad passed into the possession of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company . . . the local travel was very light, very few of the business men of the city having residences out of town,” wrote William Hasell Wilson (1811–1902) in his memoir of life as a railroad engineer. During the rest of the 19th and 20th centuries, Wilson, his family and the Pennsylvania...
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The Fastest Man on Earth: Barney Ewell and the Story of Two Missed Olympiads

Who is the fastest sprinter of all time? Usain Bolt won eight Olympic gold medals between 2008 and 2016. He also secured 11 World Championships, and his world records in the 100 metres and 200 metres have yet to be broken. Before Bolt was Carl Lewis, winner of nine Olympic golds and 10 World Championships in the 1980s and 1990s. A generation earlier was Tommie Smith and Bob Hayes. Before Smith...
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Two Faces of Molly Pitcher

Perhaps one of the most enduring legends of the American Revolution is that of a woman, who while carrying water to thirsty troops during the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, witnessed the death of her husband as he was manning a cannon in the heat of battle. Desperate to secure a victory, this woman takes his place, continuing to fire the cannon and inspiring the men around her to fight on as well....
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