A Portrait of Black Philadelphia in the 1930s

In 1938 William Strong and a companion named Egan spent months crisscrossing Philadelphia. Their mission was to photograph the city’s Black community, its culture, and its history. In February, they snapped students socializing in the Berean Manual Training and Industrial School’s cafeteria and energetic children playing instruments at the Wharton Centre settlement house. That April, they...
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The Spirited History of Pennsylvania Saloons

In 1905 and 1906 Charles and Linnie Ross of Stroudsburg traveled throughout Pennsylvania, photographing residents and buildings in communities they passed. Hoping to sell their prints for a handsome profit, they made sure to shoot the most popular spots in each town. Unsurprisingly, the Rosses photographed dozens of saloons in their travels, including this one in Williamsport. By 1851 saloons...
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Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation Newsletter

Topics in the Winter 2021 Newsletter: PHF Continues Partnership with The State Museum on Art of the State Art of the State Ceremony and Tours Presented Virtually for 2020 PHF Cosponsors Virtual Archaeology Workshops   Winter-2021-phf-newsletter  ...
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Gallantly Saving Railroad History: The Adventures of George M. Hart, Founding Director of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Four months before his retirement in 1983 as founding director of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, George Michener Hart (1919–2008) received high praise as the state’s premier railroad historian from the Smithsonian Institution’s curator of transportation, John H. White Jr. Addressed to Hart’s boss, Peter C. Welsh, director of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission’s Bureau of...
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Finding Truth in the Frame: Leah Frances’ Discovery of Pennsylvania’s Historic Places

The National Park Service describes historic preservation as “a conversation with our past about our future.” Historic places are vital to this conversation, revealing the stories about the events, people and developments of a community’s past and representing its identity. In 1935 Verne E. Chatelain, a pioneer of public history and the first National Park Service historian, wrote the paper...
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Art of the State 2019 / Scholars in Residence

Art of the State 2019 On June 23, 2019, Pennsylvania’s finest artists mingled with guests at the opening of Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2019 at The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. The 52nd annual juried exhibition, presented by the museum in association with the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation, PHMC’s nonprofit partner, showcased 110 works of art by 103 artists from 35 counties...
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Bubley by Greyhound: Photographing Wartime Rationing

Most photographs from World War II document industries or overseas military activities. Rarely do we get a look at daily life on the home front. One young woman who was documenting ordinary lives at that time was Esther Bubley (1921–98), who became known for taking intimate photos of people despite lugging around a large camera. There’s no better example of that than a story from her niece Jean...
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Editor’s Letter

“You can give humanistic value to almost anything by teaching it historically.” So wrote American philosopher William James in an address he delivered in 1907. Even such disciplines as “geology, economics and mechanics,” he continued, are “humanities when taught with reference to the successive achievements of the geniuses to which these sciences owe their being.” By extension, the features in...
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Sol Mednick’s Photography

In the mid-1950s, photographer Sol Mednick (1916–70) created this untitled gelatin silver print. Although no documentation has been found that describes the process by which the artist composed this mysterious, abstract image, it is clear that the camera was not the only tool used to achieve the strange effects in its composition. During the darkroom printing process Mednick apparently exposed...
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A British Lord in the Pennsylvania State Archives / Art of the State 2018

A British Lord in the Pennsylvania State Archives In April 2018 a member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom visited the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, to study documents related to Pennsylvania’s founder and first proprietor William Penn in hopes of learning more about issues of tolerance. Nathanael Ming-Yan “Nat” Wei of Shoreditch was introduced in the House...
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