Women Made the Breadbasket of Democracy

Picturing the Pennsylvania home front during World War II might call to mind images of women working in munitions plants or shipyards. Rosie the Riveter, immortalized in a 1942 war work-incentive poster, was said to be inspired by women employed in the Westinghouse East Pittsburgh Works. Outside the factories, however, women also sustained and transformed agriculture, feeding the war effort....
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Penitentiary Pugilism

On a rainy night in 1978 in Lewisburg, Union County, 1,400 men crowded into a boxing arena. In the ring they watched Clarence Miller take on the reigning 125-pound state champ, Ronald “Bartender” Barr. Of the 10 matches that Saturday, this was the only championship matchup, and the crowd was dazzled by the thrilling fight. Barr narrowly defeated Miller and was voted outstanding boxer of the...
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The Hunt for Pennsylvania’s Timber Rattlesnakes

In the early 19th century, pioneer adventurer Philip Tome recalled that it was common to see 30 or 40 timber rattlesnakes at a time near his home along the Susquehanna River. “The snakes were so numerous that we used to clear the yard and build fires to keep them away,” he recalled in his 1854 memoir, Pioneer Life; or, Thirty Years a Hunter. “On leaving the house we always put on a pair of...
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Take Cover! Pennsylvania’s Civil-Defense Program

After World War II, US-Soviet relations broke down swiftly as both forces raced to develop powerful nuclear weapons. Civil-defense officials feared that the concentration of resources, vital industry, and transportation systems would make the commonwealth a likely target for Soviet bombers if the two powers ever went to war. “By every possible criterion, Pennsylvania will be a No. 1 target so...
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Wyalusing Rocks and the Federal Writers’ Project

Peering northwest at the Lehigh Valley Railroad and surrounding farmland from Wyalusing Rocks, several hundred feet above the Susquehanna River in Bradford County, these four observers are likely Federal Writers’ Project field workers. A spectacular lookout first revered by the region’s native inhabitants, Wyalusing Rocks is an outcropping of red sandstone located along the Warrior’s Path, a...
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Sowing the Seeds of Victory at Polk

In 1916, as battles raged across Europe, farmers in Entente countries exchanged sickles for rifles, leaving their ground untended. Poor harvests worldwide and increased U-boat activity in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean exacerbated an already depleted food supply. The need for additional production became increasingly apparent as the United States continued its support for France and Great...
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