Current and Coming

Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Greatness More than five hundred objects, artifacts, documents, and photographs have been assembled for a landmark exhibit newly opened at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum in Allentown. Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Greatness explores the Keystone State’s impact on the sixteenth president’s life, political career, and rise to power. Lincoln’s great-great-grandfather...
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The Bucktails

Three days after the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor on April 15, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln issued an emergency call for troops to help defend the nation’s capital. Thomas Leiper Kane (1822–1883), scion of a prominent Philadelphia family, helped raise a mounted rifle regiment in Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier counties of Cameron, Elk, McKean, and...
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Pennsylvania’s War Governor

On September 14, 1862, Pennsylvania’s Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin invited the governors of the northern and border states to a meeting to be held at Altoona, Blair County, in ten days. The purpose of the meeting that became known as the Loyal War Governors’ Conference — or, simply, the Altoona Conference – was to “take measures for a more active support of the government’s prosecution of...
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A Forgotten Hero of the Civil War

At seven o’clock on Thursday evening, April 18, 1861, approximately 475 Pennsylvania citizens-turned-soldiers, comprising the ranks of five volunteer militia companies, arrived in Washington D.C., to protect the nation’s capital. The first shots of the American Civil War were fired less than a week earlier at Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, and it had been just...
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Civil War Muster Rolls

The son of wealthy Philadelphia sailmaker and noted abolitionist James Forten (1766–1842), Robert Bridges Forten was born in Philadelphia on May 12, 1813, and followed in his father’s footsteps as a successful businessman and distinguished antislavery activist. Although he was more than fifty years old and in London when he learned the Union Army was enlisting African Americans in dedicated...
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Marking Pennsylvania’s African American History

Charged with collecting, preserving, and interpreting more than three centuries of the Keystone State’s history and culture — as well as millions of years of its prehistory — the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has launched a number of widely acclaimed, innovative, and popular public history programs over the years. One of its most popular is the state historical marker...
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The 54th Mass. Infantry Regiment, US Colored Troops

Although its name might lead many to believe that the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops (USCT), was made up of African American soldiers from New England, the unit included a number of Pennsylvanians. In fact, forty-five of the recruits lived in Franklin County, and an additional thirteen joined the 55th Massachusetts, organized for the overflow from the 54th....
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The Rise and Fall of “Young Napoleon”

On Wednesday evening, November 13, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln paid a visit to the residence of George Brinton McClellan (1826–1885), who he had recently appointed general in chief of the Union Army. Located on Lafayette Square, near the White House, McClellan’s luxurious dwelling also served as his Washington, D.C., headquarters. Accompanied by Secretary of State William H. Seward...
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Aiming for the Stars: The Forgotten Legacy of the Westinghouse Astronuclear Laboratory

Before his death, renowned science fiction writer, inventor, and futurist Arthur C. Clarke (1917–2008) confidently declared the space age had not yet begun, and would only commence when reliable nuclear-powered space vehicles become available to drastically reduce the cost of moving humans and heavy payloads from the surface of the earth to the farthest reaches of the solar system. It is a...
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Peter Kalm in Pennsylvania

The territory now recognized as Pennsylvania was once part of a Swedish colony stretching from Delaware to New York. Swedish farmers settled in small villages along the Delaware River, in southern New Jersey, and in the Hudson Valley. Established by the New Sweden Company in March 1638, it was administered from Fort Christina (Wilmington) in what is now Delaware. In 1655, a band of Dutch...
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