Remembering TMI 40 Years Later

In late March 1979, south-central Pennsylvanians were startled to learn of an accident that had occurred at Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant in the Susquehanna River near Middletown, Dauphin County. In my own experience, the initial news came to me at Dallastown Elementary School in York County after a teacher shouted out to my fifth-grade class to come back inside the school building...
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PHMC Highlights

Lost Revolutionary War-Era Legislative Minutes Returned A lost original volume of the minutes of Pennsylvania’s unicameral Revolutionary War–era General Assembly was recently returned to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for safekeeping at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, Dauphin County. The book, with entries dated from March 16 through September 27, 1779, and pages numbered 1...
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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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PHMC Highlights

A British Lord in the Pennsylvania State Archives In April 2018 a member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom visited the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, to study documents related to Pennsylvania’s founder and first proprietor William Penn in hopes of learning more about issues of tolerance. Nathanael Ming-Yan “Nat” Wei of Shoreditch was introduced in the House...
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“Keeping with the Dignity of the Commonwealth”: 50 Years of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence

The stately Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence overlooking the Susquehanna River at 2035 North Front Street in the Uptown neighborhood of Harrisburg, Dauphin County, reaches its half-century mark in 2018, a milestone that is being observed with a variety of events and programs throughout the year. The Georgian Revival mansion was completed in 1968, during the term of Gov. Raymond P. Shafer, its...
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Take Cover! Pennsylvania’s Civil-Defense Program

After World War II, US-Soviet relations broke down swiftly as both forces raced to develop powerful nuclear weapons. Civil-defense officials feared that the concentration of resources, vital industry, and transportation systems would make the commonwealth a likely target for Soviet bombers if the two powers ever went to war. “By every possible criterion, Pennsylvania will be a No. 1 target so...
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Major League Murder

Samuel Byrem “Red” Crane’s life was one of extremes. Born on September 13, 1894, in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, he achieved the pinnacle of his chosen profession early in his adult life, playing seven seasons in Major League Baseball. He played for the Philadelphia Athletics, 1914–16, and the Washington Senators, 1917, before a two-year hiatus in the minor leagues, 1918–19. He returned to MLB,...
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Celebrities Discover Who They Are at the Pennsylvania State Archives

Archivist Aaron McWilliams smiles and shifts his gaze toward the floor when asked about his brush with TV stardom. Every so often, a patron visiting the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, where he works, will ask him what it was like to appear alongside veteran Hollywood actor Steve Buscemi on a 2011 episode of Who Do You Think You Are? a reality series in which...
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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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Worthy of Preservation? Considering the Future of Architecture in Historic Preservation

The roots of historic preservation run deep in this country, especially in Pennsylvania. Taking hold in the 19th century as a response to unchecked modern development, the field has grown into a multidisciplinary profession, but what galvanizes concerned citizens to oppose the demolition of historic properties for new construction remains much the same today as two centuries ago. After the U.S....
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