Letters to the Editor

Letters presents readers' comments and reactions to specific articles in Pennsylvania Heritage, the initiatives of PHMC, and other developments in the historical, cultural and museum communities of Pennsylvania.

Rediscovered …

Thank you for the marvelous feature article on Thomas Eakins – he richly deserves the attention of your very fine magazine (see “The Many Faces of Thomas Eakins” by Cheryl Leibold, spring 1991). It’s important that we teach our children that history, even that of art, is controversial and that dissent and dissenters should not be punished. The portraits of the artist were marvelous. You can be sure I am keeping this issue for my children and, someday, grand­children to enjoy. Again, thanks.

Michael D. Swift
Allentown, Pa.


Girard College

Michael P. McCarthy in his article “Girard College: A Story of Change and Continu­ity” (summer 1991) provides an excellent history of the institution – with an odd omis­sion. As he wrote, “The first minority male was accepted in 1968,” but that happened only after a series of lawsuits at­tempted to overturn Stephen Girard’s 1831 will. It was Penn­sylvania v. Brown, argued in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 1967, which finally opened the doors at Girard College. The adminis­tration may have “welcomed it” but what the author left unsaid is how many, in posi­tions of influence, opposed that change for many years. As an important part of Penn­sylvania’s heritage, we should appreciate both the effort that went into challenging Stephen Girard’s will and in the rapid transformation of Girard Col­lege by an enthusiastic admin­istration thereafter.

Graham Humes
Philadelphia, Pa.


The Legend Lives On …

The Legend of Jay Gould” by Phil Holleran, which appeared in the winter 1992 issue, held particular significance for those of us associated with the Washington County Historical Society. When the City of Washington, Pennsylvania, recently demolished its Town Hall, a time capsule was found. It was while research­ing this time capsule that a link between Washington and “Black Friday” was discovered! Pres. Ulysses S. Grant was visiting relatives in Washing­ton in September 1869, when he was invited by city officials to lay the cornerstone (which held a time capsule) for the new Town Hall. The president accepted this invitation and the city residents cheered him as he took part in the ceremo­nies on September 19, 1869. Because western Pennsylvania at the time was considered “no man’s land,” Jay Gould and Jim Fisk thought President Grant’s visit the perfect oppor­tunity to carry out their plot to corner the nation’s gold mar­ket, thus initiating the panic on Wall Street. While in our city, President Grant received word of the panic and immedi­ately departed for the nation’s capital, forgetting his cane in his haste. The Washington County Historical Society still has this cane in its possession. In fact, the president’s cane and articles removed from the time capsule are currently on exhibit at the LeMoyne House, headquarters of our county historical society. This exhibi­tion also features an explana­tion of “Little” Washington’s part in “Black Friday.”

Laura A. Craig
Washington, Pa.

Laura A. Craig serves as edu­cation specialist for the Wash­ington County Historical Society.


The Diary of Sallie Meixell

How much I enjoyed the ar­ticle on Sallie Meixell in the winter 1992 edition (see “The Young Lady of Lewisburg Grows Up” by Nada Gray and Doris Dysinger). I visit Lewis­burg once a year, and now my future visits will be enhanced by learning about this wonderful young woman. I could have read more about Sallie and Civil War era Lewisburg. Thank you.

Betty Knepper
Philadelphia, Pa.


As They See It

Josey Stamm’s wonderful article on The University of the Arts (“Philadelphia – As They See It,” fall 1991) was visually exciting and educational. I’m happy to know that your edi­torial staff has the vision to celebrate the artists in our midst, in addition to such notables of the past, including Thomas Eakins and Julius Bloch. Sometimes I may not agree with every article, but I think your magazine is getting better and better. You really know what makes your read­ers tick.

Anna Dillon
Philadelphia, Pa.

The article on The University of the Arts by Josey Stamm was great. My family and I really enjoy Pennsylvania Heri­tage. Keep up the good work!

William L. Porter
Lancaster, Pa.