To Form a More Perfect Union: Violet Oakley’s Murals in the Pennsylvania Senate Chamber

At breakfast tables on Sunday morning, December 3, 1911, readers of The New York Times were confronted with a surprising headline running across the magazine section: “A WOMAN CHOSEN TO COMPLETE THE ABBEY PAINTINGS.” Four months earlier, the news that the American artist Edwin Austin Abbey (1852–1911) had passed away in London raised speculation about who would receive the remainder of his...
read more

Pennsylvania’s Architectural Heritage: Statehouses and Capitols

Through the three centuries of Pennsylvania’s history, the build­ings that always have been both the functional and symbolic heart of the Commonwealth have been the seats of government. These statehouses and capitols bespeak much about the governmental structure and social ideals of the respective ages which created them. Indeed, the very change of nomenclature from statehouse to capitol...
read more

Violet Oakley, Lady Mural Painter

When Violet Oak­ley accepted the commission – and challenge – of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to decorate the State Capitol then under con­struction in Harrisburg, she announced that the subject of her mural series would be “The Romance of the Found­ing of the State.” In 1902, the ardent lady mural painter, then twenty-eight years old and the only one of her kind,...
read more

The Revolutionary War in Pennsylvania

With some conspicuous exceptions, Pennsylvania was W largely on the outskirts of the scenes of Revolutionary War military operations. True, in December, 1776, Gen. George Washington brought the remnants of his retreating army from New Jersey into Pennsylvania, using the area in the vicinity of McKonkey’s Ferry as the jumping-off point for the Christmas-night crossing of the Delaware and...
read more

Currents

Chester County Centennial The Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, has marked its one hundredth anniversary by mounting an exhibition entitled “Presenting Your Past: A Centennial Celebration.” The exhibit highlights the extraordinary collections acquired by the historical society during its first century. Objects on view include significant pieces selected from the...
read more

A Capital Idea! A Brief and Bumpy History of Pennsylvania’s Capitols

A mere one hundred or so miles separate Philadelphia’s Chestnut and Harrisburg’s Third streets. But the path­ – metaphorically, at least­ – between the Keystone State’s first and final capitol build­ings seems far longer and rockier than geography suggests. From the Commonwealth’s earliest days, when the government met in Philadelphia’s elegant State...
read more

Executive Director’s Message

Remembering the twentieth century has become a preoccupation bordering on obsession. As the lists of greatest moments and most important people grows daily, I am equally intrigued not only by what we choose to recall but the way in which we decide to commemorate the past. Over the past one hundred years Pennsylvanians have remembered their history by constructing a stunning array of statues,...
read more

Shorts

An intensive eight-day study tour examining the England of Pennsylvania founder William Penn (1644-1718) will be conducted under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Heritage Society in Octo­ber 2000. Participants, led by historian Larry E. Tise, will visit the Church of Ail Hallows Barking, where Penn was bap­tized and where, in 1999, Governor Tom Ridge and PHMC Chairman Janet S. Klein presented a...
read more

Currents

Brush with Conflict On September 11, 1777, on and near the banks of the Brandywine River where the Brandywine River Museum now stands, the American army led by General George Washington attempted to halt a larger force of British troops intent on capturing Philadelphia (see “British Images of War at Brandywine and the Tredyffrin Encampment” by Thomas J. McGuire in the fall 2002...
read more

The Value of Pennsylvania History

George W. Bush won the presidential election of 2000 because the fifty states cast more electoral votes for him, even though more people actually voted for his opponent, Albert A. Gore Jr. The election reminded Americans about a curious institution called the Electoral College, and an equally peculiar system known as federalism in which each state conducts elections according to distinct laws...
read more