Anna Howard Shaw, Suffragist

Anna Howard Shaw was an early activist and leader of the women’s suffrage and temperance movements. From the 1880s until the time of her death in 1919, she campaigned across America at the grassroots level for these causes and was noted for her compelling lectures. Born in England in 1847, Shaw moved with her family to America in 1851. The family first settled in Massachusetts until 1859 and...
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Life of a Portrait: Laura Wheeler Waring’s Anna Washington Derry

Until recently, painter Laura Wheeler Waring (1887-1948) has been relegated to the sidelines in artist histories. A member of the African American elite, she specialized in portraits and figurative painting and did not share the hand-to-mouth experience of many of her fellow artists. Rather, she worked as an art instructor and choir director for nearly 40 years at the institution now known as...
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American Helicopter Museum & Education Center: Commemorating the Delaware Valley’s Contributions to Vertical Flight

Nestled in a large but unassuming building at the Brandywine Airport, just northeast of  West Chester, Chester County, is a museum that may seem out of place in Pennsylvania: the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center. After all, Russian émigré Igor Sikorsky (1889–1972) flew the first successful helicopter in the United States at Stratford, Connecticut, on September 14, 1939, many...
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Artful Trails

In honor of the 50th Art of the State exhibition, open through September 10, 2017, at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, we’re exploring art at other historic sites and museums along PHMC’s Pennsylvania Trails of History. As visual storytellers, our sites employ a multidisciplinary approach to documenting and sharing Pennsylvania heritage. Artworks frequently play a role in the study...
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Into the Dark World of Catching Crooks, Culprits and Convicts: An Interview with Robert K. Wittman

by Michael J. O’Malley III Robert King “Bob” Wittman in no way resembles the highly romanticized portrayals of FBI agents made famous over the decades by movie studios and television series. He is not the heavy-hitting, gang-busting, chain-smoking G-man, replete with fedora rakishly angled atop his head. Instead, he embodies the old-school preppy style – looking as though...
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Camp Elder Civil War Paroled P.O.W. Camp

Located in Westtown Township, Chester County, Camp Elder was a holding facility for the Union’s paroled Prisoners of War (POWs) from mid-July to August 1863. Because of logistical problems associated with holding enemy prisoners during the American Civil War both Union and Confederate armies issued hundreds of thousands of paroles to soldiers captured in battle. Terms of this practice were...
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White Glove Service at The State Museum: It’s Not What You Might Think

Sometimes hands-on history projects require gloves. White cotton gloves, to be precise. In June 2012 three curators at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, donned gloves and began the first of an orderly series of planned inventories of the museum’s collections known as the Collections Advancement Project (CAP). By the end of summer three more curators joined the team and the...
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Delaware County: Where Pennsylvania Began

Delaware County is part of the densely populated belt around Philadelphia, stretching from the city’s western boundary to the circular Delaware state line. Covering approx­imately 185 square miles, it is the third smallest Pennsylvania county yet the fourth largest in population. Its southern boundary is formed by the Delaware River, from which the county takes its name. The site of early...
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If Only the Walls Could Talk: The Story of the Federal Barn

“There is no building that does nor develop some unexpected charm with age; but the early American barn, taking into consideration its reason for being, I’ve found to be an exceptional and impressive subject. The growth of moss, the dust of hay, the powdering of mortar in joints, the mellowing of cut stone, the aging of wood – all things thought to be unfortunate – are...
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An Epic in the Making

“It’s exciting. It’s moving. It’s surprising. It’s suspenseful It’s filled with men who became heroes, and women who became legends. It’s an epic 300 years in the making. It’s Pennsylvania history. Experience it. It’s too good to miss.”   Motivation is tough to describe, even tougher to define. It’s the stuff acting is made...
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