Windows on Pennsylvania’s Natural Places: Restoring Mammal Hall at The State Museum

At The State Museum of Pennsylvania, the beavers are busier than ever repairing their dam. The mountain lion gazes more intently at its prey, advancing stealthily upon a slanted tree trunk. And you might imagine you feel a chill as you approach the freshly fallen snow in the bison’s nighttime scene. If you haven’t visited the museum’s third-floor Mammal Hall recently, you’ll now notice that the...
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Editor’s Letter

Forty some years ago, when I was in elementary school, I took a field trip with my science class to The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg to see the dioramas of Pennsylvania’s wildlife in Mammal Hall. Walking around the dark, circular gallery, I peered through windows into the fascinating, realistic habitats of 13 mammals, from the common to the locally extinct, and was transported to...
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Natural History Trails

Charles Willson Peale’s Philadelphia Museum, although relatively short-lived, influenced the development of similar projects elsewhere. In 1827, the year Peale died, the Harmony Society at Economy in Pennsylvania opened one of the first natural history museums west of the Alleghenies. Like Peale’s museum, the Harmonist effort was largely exhausted by the middle of the 19th century, and its...
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Monster Bones: Charles Willson Peale and the Mysterious Nondescript Animal

On October 14, 1800, a New York City newspaper called Mercantile Advertiser published a rather lengthy news/opinion piece on some large and very curious bones that had been unearthed on a farm belonging to John Masten, located about 14 miles from the New York state village of Newburgh. The unidentified author observed that “these huge bones irresistibly force upon us by the power of associating...
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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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Introducing Harry Whittier Frees, World-Famous Animal Photographer

Long before William Wegman (born 1943) began photographing dogs – primarily his own Weimaraners, beginning with his first, Man Ray, whom he acquired in 1970 – wearing clothing and costumes, Pennsylvania native Harry Whittier Frees (1879-1953) became famous for his unusual photographs of young cats, dogs, rabbits and chickens wearing all sorts of garments and engaged in a variety of...
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