Monster Bones: Charles Willson Peale and the Mysterious Nondescript Animal

On October 14, 1800, a New York City newspaper called Mercantile Advertiser published a rather lengthy news/opinion piece on some large and very curious bones that had been unearthed on a farm belonging to John Masten, located about 14 miles from the New York state village of Newburgh. The unidentified author observed that “these huge bones irresistibly force upon us by the power of associating...
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Der Belsnickel: Nicholas in Furs or Hairy Devil?

“There was a rush of noise outside that broke the silence of the winter night — a clanking of chains and a scratching at the kitchen window. Mother encouraged my brother and me to leave the dinner table to see who was outside. At the window, a ghastly masked face greeted us with an unearthly cackle. Clad in a rumpled fur overcoat, the figure carried an old gunnysack in one hand and a bundle of...
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Tough and Determined: Pioneering Newspaper Editor Rebecca F. Gross

On a night in the winter of 1947-48, Rebecca F. Gross, 42 years old and the editor of a 10,000-circulation daily newspaper in the small town of Lock Haven, Clinton County, was scheduled to have dinner with two luminaries of the time: Robert Capa, the internationally famous war photographer, and John Steinbeck, the novelist and future Nobel laureate. The dinner was an event set up for members of...
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Joseph Plavcan’s Wild Rice

  A species of wild rice, Zizania aquatica, grows on the shores of Presque Isle, the hooked peninsula that juts off the coast of the city of Erie into the Great Lake of the same name. The plant is also the titular subject of this acrylic-on-board painting of Pennsylvania’s only surf beach by legendary Erie artist Joseph Plavcan (1908-81). Plavcan is the link in a succession of...
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Pennsylvania Heritage Recommends

Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North In the borderland between slavery and freedom, Gettysburg remains among the most legendary landmarks of the American Civil War, asserts Steve Longenecker, author of Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North (Fordham University Press, 2014,...
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Historian of Pennsylvania Exceptionalism: Samuel W. Pennypacker

Reflecting on “the play of forces” that propelled him to Pennsylvania’s governor’s office in 1903, Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker (1843–1916) confidently declared, “there is no such thing as an accident” (a notion popularized by Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis). This was not to say chance plays no part in history because he pronounced with equal certitude: “To every man certain...
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Bookshelf

Louis I. Kahn: In the Realm of Architec­ture by David Bruce Brownlee and David G. De Long Museum of Contemporary Art and Rizzoli International Publications, 1991 (448 pages, paper, $34.95) Louis I. Kahn (1901-1974) had strong ties to Philadelphia during his internationally acclaimed architectural career. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1906, and was encouraged by the Graphic Sketch Club, Central...
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Bookshelf

Harrisburg Industrializes by Gerald G. Eggert The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993 (412 pages, cloth, $35.00) In 1850, Harrisburg-state capital and county seat-was a community not unlike many others in the United States, employing most of its citizens in trade and commerce. Unlike its larger neighbors, Pittsburgh to the west and Philadelphia in the east, Harrisburg had not yet...
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Mailbox

The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, is compiling a comprehensive listing of works by Pennsylvania artist Lloyd Mifflin (1846-1921), hailed as the “Poet and Painter of the Sus­quehanna River.” Born in Columbia, Lancaster County, Mifflin studied in Europe in the early 1870s and returned to his home­town to devote his life to painting and poetry. In addition to his paintings,...
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Shorts

The descendants of natural­ist John Bartram and members of the John Bartram Associa­tion will celebrate the centennials of the association and the family reunion during the weekend of June 25-27 [1993]. The event will feature tours of Historic Bartram’s Garden, speakers, bus tours, and a gala picnic on the grounds to commemorate the family’s first reunion in 1893. To obtain...
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