Stephanie Kwolek, Inventor of Kevlar

Born into a Polish American family in New Kensington, Westmoreland County, Stephanie Kwolek (1923–2014) received a bachelor’s degree in 1946 from the Margaret Morrison Carnegie College of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Although she intended to pursue a career in medicine, she took a job with DuPont as a chemist to earn money to attend medical school. She became so involved in her...
read more

Juniata’s Hills: “Rolling Over Crags to Woodlands”

Oh, the hills of Juniata, Oh, her stony wooded hills, and her flower-scented valleys and her crystal streams and rills, Rolling over crags to woodlands, ‘Tis a sight worth far to go, Sun-kissed hills of Juniata, Oh, they thrill and still me so. The above lines are taken from the county poem (officially accepted as such during the 1981 Tercentenary celebration), written by the late Dr....
read more

From Chaos to Calm: Remembering the Three Mile Island Crisis, An Interview With Harold Denton

Thursday, March 28, 1979, is a day forever etched in the memory of most Pennsylvanians and, indeed, many Americans. During the pre-dawn hours, events swiftly unfolded at a nuclear power plant on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg that would lead to the worst commercial nuclear accident in the nation’s history. In the days that followed, Three Mile Island (TMI)...
read more

In Franklin’s Footsteps: An Interview with Ralph Archbold

Greater hero worship may be accorded to other historical figures, but Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) has, for better or worse, been more commonly identified with the American national character. His remarkable success as a printer, as well as the popularity of his essays, aphorisms, and almanacs, allowed him to spread his notions of industry and frugality among the common people. In the process,...
read more

If Looms Could Speak: The Story of Pennsylvania’s Silk Industry

On Friday March 3, 1989, the Catoir Silk Company Inc. in the Lehigh County seat of Allentown, ceased operation for the final time. The silence of the looms signaled the end of an industry the once dominated eastern Pennsylvania’s industrial landscape and economy. The closing captured a front-page story in Allentown’s daily newspaper, The Morning Call, which duly recorded the demise...
read more

The Shooting Stars of Drake Well

Much like other important industries in the Commonwealth – coal, iron, steel, timber, and railroading – the production of oil in northwestern Pennsylvania was fraught with danger. Among the perils petroleum speculators and drillers faced were fires, explosions, and fatal jams while shipping crude oil to market on waterways. One of the most dangerous tasks in extruding oil from the...
read more

Meet Jim Vaughan, PHMC’s New Executive Director

James M. Vaughan was appointed executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) in November 2011. Prior to this appointment Vaughan served as Vice President, Stewardship of Historic Sites for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C. In his career Vaughan has led several historic organizations including The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew...
read more

Snackin’ – Pennsylvania Style!

Pennsylvania may be a land of milk and honey but it’s also a land of pretzels, potato chips, and candy. The Keystone State is a leader in the production of these snack foods and York County, in particular, is home to so many factories that it has become known as the Snack Food Capital of the World. Manufacturers of these savory snacks, however, are located throughout Pennsylvania. Many of...
read more