From the Executive Director

With the arrival of fall, you can find festivals everywhere in Pennsylvania. Celebrations of harvest range from the National Apple Harvest Festival in Arendtsville, Adams County, and the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, Chester County, to old-country inspired Oktoberfests from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Many are established traditions with local origins — Stahlstown in Westmoreland County...
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Historic Districts in Pennsylvania: An Evolving Sense of Place

Jim Thorpe, originally named Mauch Chunk, is a small and picturesque borough of well-preserved 19th-century buildings perched on the side of a mountain along the Lehigh River in Carbon County. It once served as an important railroad and coal shipping center. As these industries waned in the 20th century, the town sought new economic purpose by marketing its scenic appeal as the “Switzerland of...
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Ike’s Sanctuary: The Eisenhower Farm in Gettysburg, An Oasis from the Pressures of the Presidency

In the spring of 1915 Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower (1890-1969), a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, visited the Gettysburg battlefield along with the rest of his class. The cadets had come to study Union and Confederate troop movements in an engagement that represented the farthest penetration of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army onto northern soil before the Army of the Potomac repelled...
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York County: A Most Treasured Land

Planted squarely above the Maryland border, the gigantic horse’s hoof, which is the out­ line of York County, covers an area of 914 square miles, supporting a popula­tion of 300,000. Its eastern contour is delineated by the “long, crooked” Sus­quehanna, its pastern cleanly cut off by Cumberland County on the north, its outer edge defined by Adams Coun­ty on the west. This...
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“The Greatest Thing That Ever Happened to Us Country People”

On a Halloween night early in the 1930s, a barn caught fire a few miles from Corry, Erie County. A passer by, Harry Burrows, hurriedly tied his horse and ran to help free the trapped animals. In the excitement no one noticed that the farm’s hired man was missing, but later they learned that his kerosene lantern was the cul­prit in starting the fire. “Some time, some way, he knocked...
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Adams County: Tranquility Regained

One of Pennsylvania’s smaller counties, both in size and population, Adams County developed much the same as similar settlements along the Atlantic Seaboard. Its growth during the past two and a half centu­ries has been governed by its own particular circumstances, including location, terrain, soil, climate, vegetation, min­eral resources and the accom­plishments of the immigrants and...
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Southern-Born Blacks in Harrisburg, 1920-1950

Beginning in 1974, John Bodnar, Chief of the Division of History of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, some six other inter­viewers, and I have been taping the rich store of memories and experience that is the possession of Pennsylvania’s ethnic, minority, and working-class groups. This material can provide answers to some important historical questions, among them the...
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Thaddeus Stevens, Equality of Man Before the Creator

In his thirty-five year legislative career, Thaddeus Stevens garnered several reputations. Ex-Confederates called him “the scourge of the South,” an epithet which survived into the twentieth century. In D. W. Griffith’s classic film Birth of a Nation, character Austin Stoneman is unabashedly modeled on Thaddeus Stevens, complete with clubfoot and wig. For his en­deavors to...
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The Missionary and the Clockmaker: A Saga of Two Brothers-In-Law

Scion of a decayed Anglo-Irish Ascend­ancy family of Ireland’s County Monaghan, the young Rev. Thomas Barton journeyed in spring 1755 through the largely unbroken forests of Pennsylvania to the settlement known at the time as Contwager or Conewago. He made his way – “over Susquehanna,” as the contem­porary traveler commonly described it-to lands lying along the Bermudian...
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Executive Director’s Message

Sprawl. There are some words in the English language that are immediately self-defining. Sprawl is one. It instantly creates an image of careless growth with little regard for the integrity of the environ­ment, whether historic or natural. Pennsylvania is now, unfortunately, considered one of the nation’s most spectacular examples of suburban sprawl. The cover story of a recent issue of...
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