Bookshelf

Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth By Randall M. Miller and William Pencak, editors Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002 (688 pages; cloth, $49.95; paper, $24.95) Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth is the first comprehensive history of the Keystone State in thirty years. Nearly a decade in the making, this weighty tome...
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Into the Woodlands

Rarely does his name enjoy prominence in horticultural history, but William Hamilton (1745-1813), owner of The Woodlands, a picturesque eighteenth-century countryseat on the banks of the Schuylkill River in West Philadelphia, made sev­eral significant contributions that forever changed the landscape of North America. An avid plant collector he filled his English-style garden with as many new...
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Elizabeth Langstroth Drexel Smith (1855-1890) and Louise Bouvier Drexel Morrell (1863-1945)

When Francis Martin Drexel (1792–1863) arrived in Philadelphia from the Austrian territory of Tyrol in 1817, he might have established a family of artisans—he was an accomplished artist and musician. Instead, his interest in finance, coupled with his business savvy, earned him a niche as patriarch of one of the wealthiest, most philanthropic families in the United States. Drexel’s sons, Francis...
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Philadelphia’s Sainted Katharine Drexel: “Mother and Servant of the Indian and Negro Races”

On Thursday morning, January 27, 1887, the Drexel sisters of Philadelphia attended a private mass conducted by Pope Leo XIII (1810–1903) in Rome’s fabled Vatican. As members of one of the wealthiest and most devout Catholic families in the United States, the three young women — Elizabeth, age 31, Katharine, age 28, and Louise, age 23 — were also given a rare audience with the pontiff. The...
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