Sydney Ware, Eastern State Penitentiary Artist

Built in the 1820s as part of a new type of prison system, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia was founded on the belief that prisoners could be rehabilitated during incarceration through separate confinement and industrious labor. During the penitentiary’s span of operation, 1829–1971, numerous records were compiled about the inmates and maintained at the prison, including statistics on...
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Hotel Lykens

For many years, anthracite coal mining was the main source of livelihood for the residents of Lykens, a borough in northern Dauphin County. By the early 1920s, the industry was in decline, causing the community’s population and economy to waver. Meanwhile across the country, as automobile ownership was increasing, community leaders noticed that hotels and other services associated with travel...
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Anthracite Mining and the Slavic Immigration

Those unfamiliar with Pennsylvania’s ethnic geography might be surprised to see a 1918 postcard penned in Russian like this one sent from Hazleton, Luzerne County, which translates as, “Tomorrow we are moving to a different place. Here is the address…. Greetings and kisses.” Following earlier immigration waves of primarily Northern and Western Europeans, the United States experienced an...
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Jim Popso’s Lokie

  James “Jim” Popso (1922-98) documented the Pennsylvania anthracite coal region of the 20th century in folk art assemblages he made from scrap wood, found objects, glue, household supplies and bargain paints. For more than 20 years until his death, he handcrafted scenes of collieries, breakers, mining machinery and patch towns, most of them supplemented with his models of real...
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Coal Patch, Take Two: The Preservation of Eckley Miners’ Village

“A ghost town surrounded by strip mines.” That was how Eckley was described in the 1960s, a far cry from its heyday in the late 1800s when the coal-mining “patch town” had boasted a population of 1,500. At Eckley’s peak, more than 350 men and boys were engaged in mining nearly 144,000 tons of anthracite coal a year from local seams. By the 1960s, however, mining...
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