“From My Own Observation and Familiar Acquaintance”: Phebe Earle Gibbons Introduces the Pennsylvania Dutch to the World

  “It was on a Sunday morning in March, when the air was bleak and the roads were execrable, that I obtained a driver to escort me to the farm-house where an Amish meeting was to be held,” wrote Phebe Earle Gibbons (1821–93), describing a Lancaster County Amish religious gathering in the late 1860s. “The floors were bare, but on one of the open doors hung a long white towel,...
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Piecing Together Pandenarium: Archaeology at the Site of a Free Black Community in Western Pennsylvania

In 1854 newly freed African American men, women and children hailing from a plantation in Ablemarle County, Virginia, arrived at a dusty country crossroads in northwestern Pennsylvania’s Mercer County. Estimates vary, but approximately 63 free people settled together on 100 acres of their own land. Local abolitionists prepared for the arrival by building houses along the hill, digging wells, and...
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Reforming Faith by Design: Frank Furness’ Architecture and Spiritual Pluralism Among Philadelphia’s Jews and Unitarians

Philadelphia never saw anything like it. The strange structure took shape between 1868 and 1871 on the southeast corner of North Broad and Mount Vernon streets, in the middle of a developing residential neighborhood for a newly rising upper middle class. With it came a rather alien addition to the city’s skyline: a boldly striped onion dome capping an octagonal Moorish-style minaret that flared...
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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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The Fearless Benjamin Lay by Marcus Rediker

The Fearless Benjamin Lay The Quaker Dwarf Who Became The First Revolutionary Abolitionist by Marcus Rediker Beacon Press, 224 pp., cloth $26.95 Who cares about Benjamin Lay (1682–1759), a 4-foot-tall, malformed, 18th-century member of a minority religious network known as the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)? Until recently, not very many people. But in seven gracefully crafted chapters...
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“I Must Be an Abolitionist”: Pennsylvania Liberty Man Francis Julius LeMoyne

In 1839, when William Lloyd Garrison (1805–79) and his allies lost control of the abolitionist movement in Warsaw, New York, African Americans could only vote in seven states. In the North, free blacks could neither sue nor own weapons, and their wages were disproportionate with those of their white counterparts for the same type of work. The Slave Power seemingly strengthened its influence in...
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Editor’s Letter

Sometimes Pennsylvania history occurs outside the boundaries of the Keystone State. Throughout the past, Pennsylvanians have traveled to other parts of the U.S. or have gone abroad to make their marks in the commonwealth’s history. Pennsylvania’s involvement in World War I is a good example, when soldiers from the state joined their fellow American servicemen in the Allied fight against the...
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Pennsylvania Heritage Recommends

The Civil War in Pennsylvania: The African American Experience Samuel W. Black, editor of a collection of eight essays comprising The Civil War in Pennsylvania: The African American Experience (Senator John Heinz History Center in partnership with Pennsylvania Civil War 150, 2013, paper, 239 pages, $29.95), contends, “In various ways African Americans have been fighting for freedom for several...
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Ann Preston: Pioneer of Medical Education and Women’s Rights

One of the earliest supporters of a woman’s tight to a medical education was Ann Preston. In the late 1840s, she was refused admission to the famous medical schools of Philadelphia because of her sex, yet she persevered in her efforts to obtain medical training, earned her M.D. degree and spent the rest of her life working for the improvement of women’s medical education and for the...
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An Epic in the Making

“It’s exciting. It’s moving. It’s surprising. It’s suspenseful It’s filled with men who became heroes, and women who became legends. It’s an epic 300 years in the making. It’s Pennsylvania history. Experience it. It’s too good to miss.”   Motivation is tough to describe, even tougher to define. It’s the stuff acting is made...
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