Julia C. Collins

Recognized as one of the first African American women to have published a novel, Julia C. Collins is an enigma. Little information is available about her life. Her maiden name and the date and place of her birth are all unknown. Her education is a mystery. One record that does exist appeared after her marriage to S. (Stephen or Simon) C. Collins of Williamsport, Lycoming County, indicating that...
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Shawnee-Minisink Archaeological Site

The Shawnee-Minisink site in Monroe County contains some of the earliest evidence of human occupation in eastern North America, carbon-14 dated to around 11,000 BCE. While other sites from the Paleoindian period have been found, very few have been undisturbed. Buried beneath nearly 8 feet of sediment, the archaeological deposits of Shawnee-Minisink remained protected for ages. Archaeologists...
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Humphry Marshall, Father of American Dendrology

Humphry Marshall (1722-1801) has been called the Father of American Dendrology, the study of wooded plants. In 1785 he authored Arbustum Americanum, a catalog of American trees and shrubs following the Linnaean system of plant classification, the first publication of its kind. A stonemason by trade, Marshall took an early interest in botany. His cousin John Bartram (1699-1777), who had created a...
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From the Executive Director

For many of us, spring is the traditional season to think about nature and the great outdoors, but here at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), we think about it all year long. It’s hard to separate Pennsylvania’s history from its natural history; in fact, PHMC is officially charged with “the conservation of Pennsylvania’s historic and natural...
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Before and After the Act: Historic Preservation in Pennsylvania

In 1816 the City of Philadelphia purchased Independence Hall to save it from demolition. This was the first historic preservation effort in the United States. One hundred and fifty years later, the historic preservation movement found its footing as a national priority when President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Historic Preservation Act into law on October 16, 1966. The act codified the...
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Lightfoot Mill (Mill at Anselma)

Originally built circa 1747, this working mill in Chester Springs, Chester County, is a rare example of a small 18th-century custom grain mill with its power transmission system completely intact. The basic technology of Lightfoot Mill was adapted over the years to improve efficiency, although much of the original mechanism has been retained. Today, these subsequent limited upgrades illustrate...
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NFL Films

In 1962 the National Football League (NFL) was lagging in popularity behind both Major League Baseball and NCAA Football. That same year a Philadelphia overcoat salesman, Ed Sabol (1916-2015), won the bidding rights to film the NFL Championship Game. Sabol’s only previous filmmaking experience had been shooting his son’s football games, family vacations and a couple of documentaries as a hobby....
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The Craighead Family

The Craighead family’s love of the outdoors was fostered at their summer home on the Yellow Breeches Creek outside of Boiling Springs, Cumberland County. Frank “Rattlesnake” Craighead (1890–1982), his brother Eugene (1893–1959) and the family’s next generation of naturalists discovered the wonders of nature in the nearby fields, streams, meadows and mountains. Frank earned his nickname by...
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Pennsylvania Farm Show

For more than 30 years before Lawrie & Green developed the design for The State Museum and Archives Complex in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, the architectural firm designed a number of other important structures throughout the city, including the Pennsylvania Farm Show building. The Pennsylvania Farm Show began in 1917. In its early years, it was held in several different locations throughout...
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Greenbelt Knoll

Greenbelt Knoll was built in 1956 by Morris Milgram (1916-97), an award-winning leader of the open housing movement in the United States. Designed by the firm of Montgomery & Bishop, in association with architect Harry Duncan and landscape architect Margaret Lancaster Duncan, with Louis Kahn as a consultant, it was the first planned integrated housing development in Philadelphia and one of...
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