The Revolutionary War in Pennsylvania

With some conspicuous exceptions, Pennsylvania was W largely on the outskirts of the scenes of Revolutionary War military operations. True, in December, 1776, Gen. George Washington brought the remnants of his retreating army from New Jersey into Pennsylvania, using the area in the vicinity of McKonkey’s Ferry as the jumping-off point for the Christmas-night crossing of the Delaware and...
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“Prepare Thyself … to Meet the Lord Thy God!”: Religion in Pennsylvania During the Revolution

Religion in the colony of Pennsylvania was distinctive. In contrast to most areas of the western world, this province practiced freedom of religion. It never had an established church. Friends who controlled the first legislative assembly, meeting in Upland, now Chester, in 1682, specified that no one was “at any time [to] be com­pelled to frequent or Maintain anie religious worship, place...
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The Revolution Affects Pennsylvania Communities

Every county and community in the Commonwealth was in some way involved or connected with the American Revolution and Pennsylvania’s attainment of statehood. Certain places associated with famous events in the struggle for independence come to mind immedi­ately: Philadelphia, Lancaster, and York for civil affairs, and Brandywine, Germantown, Whitemarsh, Valley Forge, and Washington’s...
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Black Cultural Development in Pennsylvania Since 1900

The cultural history of Blacks in America is varied and diverse. At the same time, it is deeply inter­woven into the whole of America’s cultural fabric. Yet, the significant cultural contributions of Black Amer­icans have been overlooked. Because of this omission, it was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that the art of Afro-Americans began to receive the recognition it so...
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Oral History Project in Chester

In July, 1977, I concluded a series of oral history interviews with elderly members of the Black com­munity in Chester, Pennsylvania. Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as part of its oral history program, I secured approximately twenty­-five hours of taped interviews from twenty respondents. The average age of the interviewees was probably seventy years. They came...
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A Black Underground: Resistance to Slavery, 1833-1860

The Underground Railroad is an important historical link with which most Pennsylvanians are familiar. Ever since William Still, the Black histo­rian, published his famous record of fugitive aid in 1872, however, many have questioned whether in reality the Underground Railroad existed. Some say that fugitive aid in Pennsylvania was rendered individually and spontaneously. Others say that an...
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Currents

Over the Line Beginning in the early nineteenth cen­tury, a clandestine movement known as the Underground Railroad helped African American slaves escape bondage in the South to freedom in the North. Adopting the vocabulary of the railroad, this secret passage to freedom consisted of a loosely organized network of abolitionists who lived in the southern border states and in the North and assisted...
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Executive Director’s Message

The Most Perfectly Planned Community in America. So proclaimed a 1951 promotional brochure for Levittown in Bucks County, designed and built by developer William J. Levitt. With.in a few months, Levitt’s company had sold three thousand Levit­towner models for $9,900 each and began producing homes at a rate of forty a day using innovative assembly line techniques. By 1958, the development...
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Violence and Vigilantes: The KKK in Pennsylvania

It was a warm, muggy day in early August 1921 in Philadelphia when F. W. Atkins of Jacksonville, Florida, and W. J. Bellamy of Cincinnati, Ohio, rented an office in the Bellevue Court Building to quietly recruit members for “a great and patriotic crusade to save the nation.” Their goal was to organize a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Posing as a prospective KKK initiate, a...
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The Soulful and Sultry Miss Ethel Waters

Much of Ethel Waters’ success as a popular twentieth-century entertainer has been credited to the rather simple fact she, in her own words, never forgot who she was and where she came from. She achieved renown as blues singer, theater and film actress, and best selling author. She also emerged as a role model, if not icon, for several decades of African American women. And she accomplished...
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