News and Notes

News presents briefs about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania.

On the Cover

“Lanesboro in 1849” is one of five paintings held by the Susque­hanna County Historical Society and Free Library Association which are attributed to Stephen D. Wilson (1814-1885). The son and nephew of two of the earliest settlers in Bridgewater Township, Susquehanna County, the young artist studied and began his career in Montrose. Although he later moved to Philadelphia, where he established a studio and his reputation, primarily as a portrait painter, he must have return­ed frequently to Susquehanna County to complete commissions there, for a number of his portraits of local notables are still known to exist.

In the background of this particular oil on canvas can be seen the Starrucca Viaduct the year following its completion (1848). Built by the New York and Erie Railroad and hailed as the most expensive bridge ever constructed up until that time, the viaduct was designated a Na­tional Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1973. Because of its im­posing size and beautiful setting, it has continued to be a favorite sub­ject of artists for over a century. Perhaps the best known rendition of the “bridge of stone” and its surrounding landscape is that painted by Jasper Francis Cropsy in 1865.

 

Mobile Museum On Tour

The PHMC’s Mobile Museum has been outfitted with a new exhibit, entitled “William Penn and the Indians – Symbols of Friendship,” as yet another part of Pennsylvania’s 300th Birthday celebration. This exhibit is the fifth to tour the state in the Mobile Museum, which has already traveled over 50,000 miles since 1970. Visits have been scheduled to coincide with festivities planned by communities in all sixty-seven counties in the Commonwealth.

“William Penn and the Indians” introduces visitors to the Lenni-Lenape (Delaware) Indians, founder William Penn and the unique friendship shared by them. The exhibit includes ar­cheological specimens of early trade goods, photographs of William Penn’s recreated country house in Bucks County (Pennsbury Manor) and a section of a typical Indian longhouse which has been constructed inside the Mobile Museum. Additional information is provided by a guide, who is available to answer questions, and two films, “William Penn Memorial Museum: A Profile” and “William Penn and the Quakers.”

Scheduled to tour for the next two years, the Mobile Museum is available, upon written request, to schools, historical societies and civic organizations for community celebrations, county observances and other such events. Scheduling com­mitments will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis, except where geographical and travel factors must be taken into consideration. Between September and May [1982], priority will be given to school visits.

For further information about the museum on wheels, con­tact the Mobile Museum, PHMC, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120, or call (717) 787-4978. The Mobile Museum is open to the public free of charge.

 

William Rush: An American Sculptor

This summer [1982], the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia will feature a major exhibition of vast artistic and historic significance entitled “William Rush, American Sculptor.” Not since 1937 has Rush’s sculpture been assembl­ed in one place at one time, photographed, documented and restored. Every extant work by Rush, who was America’s first native-born sculptor and celebrated ship’s figure-head carver, will be included. Because of the fragile nature of most of the objects, the exhibition, which runs from June 22 through the fall, will be seen only at the Academy.

A native of Philadelphia, William Rush (1756-1833) was the son of a ship’s carpenter and later became an apprentice to a carver. Working in the local vernacular tradition, be first made figure heads, which were translated into the finest sculptural work of the time. One of the founders of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1805, Rush exhibited in the Academy’s Annual Exhibitions beginning in 1811 and thereafter. “William Rush, American Sculptor” is both fitting and timely as the Academy’s contribution to the celebration of Philadelphia’s 300th anniversary, for Rush greatly contributed to the city’s reputation as the “Athens of America.”

The current exhibition will feature the only existing Rush figure heads, “Peace,” “Benjamin Rush” and “Benjamin Franklin,” and also display approximately twenty of Rush’s allegorical and monumental, carved wooden objects used to ornament public buildings. Rush is also noted for full-length statues and portrait busts of such distinguished citizens as George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and Winfield Scott. Demonstrating the artist’s range of interests, his anatomical models, commissioned by the University of Penn­sylvania Medical School and the first to be used in this coun­try, will also be included. Of the eighty-eight pieces on display, some from the Academy’s permanent collections but many on loan from various other institutions, fifty-four will be Rush objects, a number of them fully documented for the first time.

The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, just two blocks north of City Hall, is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M., and on Sunday, 1 to 5 P.M. Tours are given daily at 11 A.M. and 2 P.M., and on weekends at 2 P.M. Admission is $1.50, general; $1.00, senior citizens; $.50, students.

 

Tercentenary Documents Show Opens

More than 150 rare documents and historical artifacts – ­many of them never before publicly exhibited – comprise a special exhibit mounted by the PHMC in honor of Penn­sylvania’s 300th Birthday. “With the Stroke of a Pen: Tercentenary Documents, 1681-1981,” which opened at the William Penn Memorial Museum in Harrisburg on April 14 [1982], chronicles the origins and growth of the Commonwealth through a variety of items, including documents, manuscripts, maps, photographs, prints and objects. Focal point of the ex­hibit is the original Charter granted to William Penn in 1681 by England’s King Charles II in payment of a debt owed to Perm’s father, a naval hero and for whom Pennsylvania – or “Penn’s Woods” – was originally named. Other featured documents are the First Frame of Government or the Charter of Liberties (1682), the Great Law of 1682, and the Penn­sylvania Constitutions of 1776 and 1790.

The exhibition is organized around seven themes which pro­vide a panorama of Pennsylvania’s history, much of which is of national significance. Integral to the scope of the exhibit, the themes include These Basic Documents, revealing the framework for governing the Commonwealth; Frontier Ex­pansion and Urban Growth, documenting pioneer achievements in early Pennsylvania; and Labor Growth and Unrest, illustrating the growing pains suffered by Penn­sylvania during the Industrial Revolution of the second half of the nineteenth century. The Black Struggle for Equality, The Women’s Move to Equal Rights and Immigration portray the outstanding civil rights commitments made by the Com­monwealth which often set precedents for the entire country. Lastly, Transportation and Commerce celebrates landmark developments in the state’s economic growth.

Most of the archival material presented is governmental in nature – laws, legislative resolutions, council minutes and pro­ceedings – gleaned from the Commission’s Bureau of Archives and History, which administers the State Archives, and the Bureau of Museums. Photographs and prints which show the effect of these written words on generations of Pennsylvanians augment the exhibit and help to interpret the meaning and significance of the documents. “With the Stroke of a Pen” also highlights 300 years of the Commonwealth’s history as it has been recorded and preserved through popular, and often more personal, materials: diaries, letters, postcards, pam­phlets, posters and newspapers. Business and industry is represented by stock certificates, obsolete bank notes, adver­tisements, contracts and receipts.

“With the Stroke of a Pen: Tercentenary Documents, 1681-1981,” which will run through September [1982], is located in the William Penn Memorial Museum’s Village Square. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 A.M. to 4 P.M.; Sunday, noon to 5 P.M. Admission is free.

 

Governor’s Home Hosts Workers Exhibition

The Governor’s Home in Harrisburg is once again open for public tours and currently is hosting a special exhibition presented by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Com­mission. “Working Pennsylvanians: A Tribute to Labor and the Individual Worker” is an artistic and historical salute to the labor force and its continuing efforts to improve the qual­ity of life for all citizens of the Keystone State. It is the story of individuals, industry, commerce, organized labor, business and government.

The hat collage which greets the eye of visitors at the en­trance of “Working Pennsylvanians” immediately brings to mind the great diversity of occupations and skills which are part of the state labor force and serves as a reminder of how dependent citizens of the Commonwealth are on the services and products which working people provide. Traditionally, the hat worn on the job readily identifies the duties of a worker perhaps more than any other badge or portion of costume. To be introduced to this show with a sampling of the many hats worn by Pennsylvania’s workers, then, is a most appropriate beginning for the exhibition.

The real narrative of the history of labor, however, cannot be told through costume alone. To complete the picture, a combination of illustrations, photographs, documents and in­terpretive artwork by Pennsylvania artists, gathered from numerous individuals, organizations and institutions, has been assembled then refined to an essence which depicts the daily work experience of laborers and suggests their struggle for job security, improved wages and better working conditions.

A highlight of the exhibition which portrays that struggle is “The Strike,” by Robert Koehler, first exhibited in 1886 and one of the earliest known oils to depict industrial conflict. The painting, which is being shown through the courtesy of its owner, Lee Baxandall, was the recipient of an honorable men­tion at the Paris Exhibition in 1889. Inspired by the railroad strikes of 1877, the painting depicts a group of machinists who, after walking off their jobs, are confronting their employer with their intention to strike in order to remedy their grievances.

To view this work of an and the remainder of the exhibition is to glimpse some of the experiences and tribulations of workers in Pennsylvania during the period of industrialization. Those who see the display will better understand the work lives of their ancestors and, as a result, will gain insight into their own work experiences, as well as the current possibilities and problems of the workplace in Pennsylvania. During this, the 300th anniversary of the founding of the state, it is worth taking time to reflect on the efforts of those who preceded us and of those who continue to labor in our working places.

The first floor and gardens at the Governor’s Home, Front and Maclay Streets, Harrisburg, are also open to visitors as they view “Working Pennsylvanians” on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. School groups, parties of twenty-five or more, and guests requiring special assistance are asked to call (717) 787-1192 to make the necessary advance ar­rangements. The exhibition will remain open through September 7 [1982].

 

Lewis and Clark: The Pennsylvania Connection

Pennsylvania’s role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, for most Pennsylvanians, is one of the Commonwealth’s best kept secrets. To the members of The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, who live mainly west of the Mississippi, the role of Pennsylvanians and Pennsylvania institutions is well known and will be recognized when the foundation holds its 14th annual meeting in Philadelphia on August 8-11 [1982]. A strong case can be made that the Lewis and Clark Expedition started and ended in Pennsylvania.

With the 1803 Congressional authorization of the expedition to explore the western lands of the new republic, President Jef­ferson quickly dispatched bis young “secretary,” Meriwether Lewis, to Philadelphia. There he was to be trained in the natural sciences, navigation and medicine under the tutelage of Jefferson’s friends at the American Philosophical Society and the University of Pennsylvania. For three months, Lewis studied in Philadelphia with the nation’s leading scholars: Robert Patterson, Benjamin Barton Smith, Caspar Wistar and Dr. Benjamin Rush. While there, he also obtained many of the supplies needed to equip a force of undetermined size for a trip of unknown duration. En route from Washington to Philadelphia, Lewis spent several days in Lancaster studying with Andrew Ellicott, who was learned in navigational in­struments. He also added to the necessary gear such items as sextants, chronometers, thermometers and the like, as well as the highly regarded “Pennsylvania rifles” which would be so important to the expedition’s survival.

It was in Pittsburgh, in August 1803, that the supplies Lewis had procured in Philadelphia, Lancaster and Harper’s Ferry were put aboard a keelboat. Thus, Lewis and ten others began the transcontinental expedition, the first leg of a venture which was to shape the country.

Upon completion of the expedition in 1806 most of the natural science specimens, plus The Journals, were sent to Philadelphia to either the American Philosophical Society or Peale’s museum. Today, The Journals can be found in the care of the Philosophical Society, while the major portion of the natural science specimens are at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Other artifacts from the expedition can be found at the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Atheneum and the University Museum. At “Andalusia,” Nicholas Biddle’s home along the Delaware in Bucks County, one can see Biddle’s per­sonal copy of the delayed official Journals, which he edited for publication in 1814. The American Philosophical Society, the Academy of Natural Sciences, “Andalusia,” Bartram’s Garden and more will be visited as part of the annual meeting.

For further details on The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and the 1982 annual meeting, contact Mr. Harold B. Hillian, 1246 Page Terrace, Villanova 19085.