Benjamin Franklin, Image Maker

The history of our Revolution,” John Adams once sniffed, “will be one contin­ued lye from one end to the other. The essence of the whole will be that Dr. Frank­lin’s electrical rod smote the earth and out sprung General Washington, fully clothed and on his horse. Franklin then proceeded to electrify them with his rod and thence for­ward these three – Franklin, Washington...
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Independence Hall, The Birthplace of a Nation

September 1824 was a busy month for Phila­delphians. The Mar­quis de Lafayette returned to America for the first time since the Revolution­ary War, and it was rumored that the high point of his tra­vels would be a visit to Penn­sylvania’s venerable State House. Naturally, much of the preparation for his visit cen­tered on the old red brick building where the events of the Revolution had...
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Plagued! Philadelphia’s Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

On August 5, 1793, Dr. Benjamin Rush was summoned to the waterfront residence of fellow physician Hugh Hodge, whose daughter had recently taken ill. For days Rush had been treating Philadelphians for a serious outbreak of influenza and had assumed that this was yet another case. But when he found the small girl on her deathbed, gasping for breath and vomiting black bile, Rush instinctively knew...
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Bookshelf

Deep Water Sailors, Shallow Water Soldiers by Gerald T. Altoff The Perry Group, 1993 (203 pages, paper, $7.95) Subtitled Manning the United States Fleet on Lake Erie – 1813, this book exam­ines the composition of the crews of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet that took part in one of the most signifi­cant naval encounters during the War of 1812. According to the author, these...
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Currents

Peale Power The story of two generations of Philadelphia’s Peale family of artists and naturalists is one of the most captivating chapters in American history. Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) and his chil­dren Raphaelle (1774-1825), Rembrandt (1778-1860), Rubens (1784-1865), and Titian Ramsey (1799-1860), Charles Willson’s brother James (1749-1831) and James’s children, Anna...
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Firm Foundations in Philadelphia: The Lewis and Clark Expedition’s Ties to Pennsylvania

For a century and a half, from 1807 until the early 1960s, the celebrated expedition undertaken by Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) and William Clark (1770-1838) between 1803 and 1806 was generally perceived to be strictly a western United States phenomenon. Historians and educators who discussed it in their writings or in their teaching usually described the twenty-eight month ordeal as beginning...
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Ewell Sale Stewart Library Books

Established in 1812 “for the encour­agement and cultivation of the sciences, and the advancement of useful learning,” the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia is the oldest natural sci­ences institution in the Western Hemi­sphere. The Academy’s Ewell Sale Stew­art Library, with its extensive collections of books, manuscripts, maps, paintings, and photographs, has been...
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Current and Coming

Steel Poetry Inspired by the various aspects of the steel industry in Bethlehem, Mildred T. Johnstone (1900-1988) created unusual canvas embroideries in the late 1940s and early 1950s. As the wife of Bethlehem Steel Corporation executive William H. Johnstone, she had the singular honor of being the first woman to tour the compa­ny’s steel mills. Although the mills have grown silent,...
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To Forge History for the Future

Not infrequently, the history of how an object, artifact, or even building or structure has been preserved for the future is every bit at least as interesting as the reasons for which it was saved. Historical organizations and cultural institutions – from large city museums to county historical societies – brim with compelling “behind-the-scenes” stories that provide...
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Bookshelf

Carnegie By Peter Krass John Wiley and Company, Inc., 2002 (612 pages, cloth $35.00) The name Carnegie, like several others of its day – Westing­house, Morgan, Ford, Rockefeller, Winchester, Chrysler, Du Pont, Edison, Hershey – stands apart, apparently requiring lit­tle, if any, introduction. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) stands next to J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller as one of the...
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