Terror and Extortion on the Pennsylvania Railroad

Threats of terrorism and challenges to security are nothing new for railroads; these phenomena have been around for nearly 200 years of railroading in the United States. Safety and security, therefore, have been of the utmost importance for railroad lines from the 19th century to the present, and railroad police have had authority equivalent to state police in many locations. Yet, the amount of...
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Women’s Suffrage: Pennsylvania’s Ratification of the 19th Amendment

The struggle for women’s suffrage in Pennsylvania has a long history. Throughout the Colonial Period, 1681–1776, only adult males who owned property could vote. After breaking from the British crown, Pennsylvania’s revolutionary political leaders broadened male voting by abolishing the property qualifications; however, they did not extend the vote to women. A significant precursor to the women’s...
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Beaver’s Diary, Document and Lifesaver

The Pennsylvania State Archives has in its collection numerous diaries recording the personal experiences of prominent people in the state’s history. One of those diaries not only documented its owner’s life but also possibly saved it. James Addams Beaver (1837–1914), born in Millerstown, Perry County, was an attorney in Bellefonte, Centre County, who would serve as the 20th governor of...
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Remembering TMI 40 Years Later

In late March 1979, south-central Pennsylvanians were startled to learn of an accident that had occurred at Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant in the Susquehanna River near Middletown, Dauphin County. In my own experience, the initial news came to me at Dallastown Elementary School in York County after a teacher shouted out to my fifth-grade class to come back inside the school building...
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Sydney Ware, Eastern State Penitentiary Artist

Built in the 1820s as part of a new type of prison system, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia was founded on the belief that prisoners could be rehabilitated during incarceration through separate confinement and industrious labor. During the penitentiary’s span of operation, 1829–1971, numerous records were compiled about the inmates and maintained at the prison, including statistics on...
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Readco and the Transition to Military Manufacturing in World War II

Once the United States entered World War II in December 1941, every facet of American life was affected. The unprecedented quantities of ammunition, weapons and vehicles required to sustain the war effort called for many Pennsylvania manufacturers to retool their production to fulfill these critical needs. Companies like Ford’s assembly plant in Chester, Delaware County, began producing military...
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Major League Murder

Samuel Byrem “Red” Crane’s life was one of extremes. Born on September 13, 1894, in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, he achieved the pinnacle of his chosen profession early in his adult life, playing seven seasons in Major League Baseball. He played for the Philadelphia Athletics, 1914–16, and the Washington Senators, 1917, before a two-year hiatus in the minor leagues, 1918–19. He returned to MLB,...
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Sallie the Dog and the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteers

The 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment originally entered service near the beginning of  the American Civil War on April 26, 1861, as a three-month unit. Later that year, many of its soldiers reenlisted in the three-year regiment. The men of the 11th were eventually classified as veteran volunteers; they fought at Falling Waters, Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, Antietam, Fredericks-...
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Aeroplane Reconnaissance Photography in World War I

World War I marked a significant turning point in the history of armed conflict for many reasons, not the least of which was the development of more sophisticated reconnaissance. For thousands of years, men on horseback served as the main vehicle for information-gathering in most armies. With the proliferation of trench warfare and the mechanization of equipment in the Great War, the horse...
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Setting Boundaries: The Penn-Baltimore Agreement

By 1730 violence had broken out between Pennsylvania and Maryland colonists over conflicting border claims. On May 10, 1732, Charles Calvert (1699–1751), Fifth Lord Baltimore and proprietary governor of Maryland, established a provisional agreement with William Penn’s sons, John (1700–46), Thomas (1702–75) and Richard Sr. (1706–71), proprietors of Pennsylvania, to survey their mutual border. At...
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