The Restoration of Old Bethel: An Example for the Future

Introduction To a world in a state of con­stant change, today’s goals and cherished values may well be­come tomorrow’s prohibitions. The original idea of restoration – getting people to return to an undervalued old part of town – was understood only in positive terms, until gradually, it be­came apparent that some people at least were moving out or being moved out as a...
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The Meaning of Old Bethel

One problem with the construction, or reconstruction, of black history is the scarcity of original manuscripts, particularly those from the black church which traditionally has been a center of black activity. Because few records remain, misconceptions about the lives and attitudes of blacks have often led to a distortion of their history. The reason that few records exist, however, is not...
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Religious Freedom: Key to Diversity

“There can be no reason to persecute any man in this world about anything that belongs to the next.” – William Penn   To describe Pennsylvania’s re­ligious diversity is to present the history of its religious develop­ment. Although many other states be­came religiously heterogeneous during the nineteenth century, Pennsylvania was pluralistic even as a colony within...
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The Emergence of Black Religion in Pennsylvania, 1776-1850

The emergence of Black churches at the beginning of the nineteenth century was crucial to the survival of Black people in Pennsylvania and in the North because it provided two key resources. First, it provided a sense of meaning and destiny grounded in hope. Secondly, the Black church provided the institutional base for the economic, social, and political struggle of Blacks, including the...
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Loose the Woman and Let Her Go! Pennsylvania’s African American Women Preachers

Because of the highly developed religious systems of Africa, slaves transported. to the New World continued to practice their religious rites and traditions, even though they were in a strange land. The similarity of the Biblical experiences, such as prophets, visitations, and miracles, to African religious beliefs was of great interest to the slaves as they heard plantation owners talk about...
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Shorts

In recognition of the recent seventy-fifth anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States, the Chester County Historical Society is examining the roles of local women in the social reform movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through an exhibition entitled “‘Do Everything’: Women and Reform in Chester County.” Abolition, temperance,...
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Finding Sanctuary at Montrose

On Friday afternoon, April 9, 1842, William Smith, a slave owned by a Maryland widow, sought shelter in her manor house from the teeming rain. He was drenched after having toiled all morning in the inclement weather. As he stood drying by the stove, one of the widow’s young sons berated him. “What are you doing in here,” snapped the youngster. “You stand there happy as a lord. You don’t belong...
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A Forgotten Hero of the Civil War

At seven o’clock on Thursday evening, April 18, 1861, approximately 475 Pennsylvania citizens-turned-soldiers, comprising the ranks of five volunteer militia companies, arrived in Washington D.C., to protect the nation’s capital. The first shots of the American Civil War were fired less than a week earlier at Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, and it had been just...
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Louise Tanner Brown, Businesswoman

Like many women born in the late nineteenth century, Louise Tanner Brown (circa 1883–1954) was educated and trained for cottage industry work, a variety of home-based businesses that included sewing, laundry, cleaning, beauty care, and hairdressing. Cottage industries were especially important in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,...
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