Natural History Trails

Charles Willson Peale’s Philadelphia Museum, although relatively short-lived, influenced the development of similar projects elsewhere. In 1827, the year Peale died, the Harmony Society at Economy in Pennsylvania opened one of the first natural history museums west of the Alleghenies. Like Peale’s museum, the Harmonist effort was largely exhausted by the middle of the 19th century, and its...
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Unlikely Capitalists: Harmonists as Textile Manufacturers

At the end of the eighteenth century, George Rapp (1757-1847) planned to create a religious community in the wilderness as near to heaven on earth as was humanly possible. He succeeded to a large extent, but in the process achieved a different kind of success: he created one of the largest textile manufacturing enter­prises in the Pennsylvania of his time. While still in his native Württemburg,...
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Butler County: A Story in Diversity

The story of Butler County is one of many stories. It is the story of an unusual religious commune. Of an engineer whose invention made the Brooklyn Bridge a reality. Of a European baron who con­structed a German castle he named Bassenheim. Of an oil boom town which sprang up­ – and crashed nearly overnight. Of the birthplace of that be­loved American automotive institution, the jeep. Of...
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Mailbox

The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, is compiling a comprehensive listing of works by Pennsylvania artist Lloyd Mifflin (1846-1921), hailed as the “Poet and Painter of the Sus­quehanna River.” Born in Columbia, Lancaster County, Mifflin studied in Europe in the early 1870s and returned to his home­town to devote his life to painting and poetry. In addition to his paintings,...
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Shorts

In recognition of the recent seventy-fifth anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States, the Chester County Historical Society is examining the roles of local women in the social reform movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through an exhibition entitled “‘Do Everything’: Women and Reform in Chester County.” Abolition, temperance,...
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Shorts

“Pennsylvania Regionalism: The Turn of the Century,” on view at the Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, through Saturday, October 30 [1999], presents a survey of impressionism and realism spanning the period from 1870 to the 1930s. The exhibit features landscapes, still lifes, and portraits by twenty-four Pennsylvania artists, among them Edward W. Redfield, Daniel Garber,...
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Shorts

Continuing at the Library Company of Philadelphia through Thursday, November 25 [1999], is “Ardent Sprits: The Origins of the American Temperance Movement,” featuring books, prints, broadsides, sheet music, and manuscripts spanning the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The American Temperance Movement called for moderation and even abstention in the use of alcohol. The longest and...
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Currents

Quilting Time Lancaster County is associated with many things, among them the “Pennsylvania Dutch,” barn raising, the horse and buggy, Amish and Mennonite farmsteads, shoo fly pie, and, of course, quilts. Quilts made in Lancaster County reflect the diversity of cultures and way of life in the region called – because of its verdant beauty and highly productive agricultural...
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Lost and Found

Lost Although many farms were established in Lancaster County in the eighteenth century, most of the surviving barns and outbuildings were erected in the nineteenth century. Early log barns were replaced by wooden, stone, and brick barns. Of brick barns, the most impressive are those whose gable ends were laid in elaborate patterns of pierced or reticulated brickwork. These openings, commonly in...
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Extreme Makeover: History Edition

Extreme might be a hyperbole but the current restoration of the interior of the Rapp House at Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Beaver County, is a significant undertaking nevertheless. The project will provide a substantive update to the initial restoration work in the 1960s. Old Economy Village presents the remarkable story of the Harmony Society, a Christian communal group with roots in what...
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