To Form a More Perfect Union: Violet Oakley’s Murals in the Pennsylvania Senate Chamber

At breakfast tables on Sunday morning, December 3, 1911, readers of The New York Times were confronted with a surprising headline running across the magazine section: “A WOMAN CHOSEN TO COMPLETE THE ABBEY PAINTINGS.” Four months earlier, the news that the American artist Edwin Austin Abbey (1852–1911) had passed away in London raised speculation about who would receive the remainder of his...
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Harriet Lane Johnston: The Legacy of a White House Hostess

On the cool, overcast day of May 9, 2017, a dozen nurses from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center arrived by bus at Green Mount Cemetery, a leafy 19th-century oasis in center city Baltimore. They carried a generous bouquet of flowers to decorate the grave of Harriet Lane Johnston, niece of James Buchanan (1791–1868), Pennsylvania’s only U.S. president. “Without Harriet Lane, we don’t know what...
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Remember Dec. 7th

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and Congress’ declaration of war on Japan the following day, the U.S. officially entered World War II. As the nation moved into full-force mobilization, the government initiated a propaganda effort to boost morale and patriotism. Several wartime agencies produced and disseminated propaganda, including the Office of War Information (OWI)...
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Emilie Davis’s Civil War by Judith Giesberg

Emilie Davis’s Civil War: The Diaries of a Free Black Woman in Philadelphia, 1863-1865 edited by Judith Giesberg, transcribed and annotated by the Memorable Days Project Penn State Press, 240 pp., cloth $59.95, paper $16.95 Free African American servant and seamstress Emilie Davis lived in Philadelphia during the Civil War and recorded her daily experiences and thoughts in a diary from January...
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From the Executive Director

Over the past few months I have been spending time with visitors in the new Pennsylvania Icons exhibit at The State Museum of Pennsylvania (see “Pennsylvania Icons: State Treasures Telling the Story of the Commonwealth,” Winter 2016). There is a small but very powerful section of the exhibit entitled “Pennsylvania and the Nation.” It is a dramatic reminder of the close connection between...
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Pennsylvania Icons: State Treasures Telling the Story of the Commonwealth

  Pennsylvania Icons is a landmark exhibition at The State Museum of Pennsylvania that tells the story of the commonwealth and its people, places, industries, creations and events with more than 400 artifacts and specimens from the museum’s collection. The State Museum contains the largest and most comprehensive Pennsylvania history collection in the world, with a diverse array of objects...
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Pennsylvania Governors Residences Open to the Public

Pennypacker Mills Pennypacker Mills possesses a lengthy history dating to about 1720 when Hans Jost Hite built the fieldstone house and a gristmill near the Perkiomen Creek, Schwenksville, Montgomery County. Purchased in 1747 by Peter Pennypacker (1710-1770), the house was enlarged and a saw mill and a fulling mill were constructed. The property acquired its name for the three mills. Peter...
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Shooting Targets and Raising U.S. Sharpshooters Regiments

Originally filed with records related to the 2nd United States Sharpshooters, these targets were for years presumed by Pennsylvania State archivists to have been produced by members of the famed infantry regiment while firing target practice with their Sharps rifles. Further investigation, however, has uncovered additional information that reinterprets why and by whom the targets were created....
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John Wilkes Booth’s Cane at Drake Well Museum

Precisely 150 years ago this summer, actor-cum-assassin John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865) – who had joined the stock company of Philadelphia’s Arch Street Theatre in 1857 where he acted for the season – spent more than a month in northwestern Pennsylvania’s oil region looking after his investments during petroleum’s boom years. While appearing at the theatre, later managed by Louisa Lane...
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John Summerfield Staples

As the American Civil War dragged into its fourth year, U.S. government leaders grew increasingly troubled about the shrinking of the Union army. Several reasons for the reduction in the army’s ranks included the number of combat casualties, incapacitation of troops from wounds and illnesses, desertion and the end of the original three-year enlistment period for 1861 in which recruits played a...
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