House on a Hill: Connecting with the Past in Western Pennsylvania

“It is our family and local histories that are our most precious parts of culture, in my estimation. They put ‘meat on the bones’ of the artifacts we find. Of course, all family history is myth until we have the documentation that backs it up.” — Lynne Humphries-Russ   The narrow access road was hidden, and I almost missed the turnoff. I was anxious to see the...
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Romani in Pennsylvania

This fascinating early 20th-century postcard of a scene from Williamsport, Lycoming County, provides a view of life in Pennsylvania that is seldom represented in formal historic records or in preservation efforts. Cultures that exist outside the mainstream and especially those not linked to specific places pose a special challenge to historians. The word “Gypsy,” which appears on...
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Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation Newsletter

Topics in the Winter 2016 Newsletter: PHF Hosts the 50th Anniversary Gala for The State Museum and Archives Complex The Giving Circle Pennsylvania Turnpike Exhibit Opens Pennsylvania Turnpike Exhibit Sponsors PA Modern Exhibit Opens Join the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation  ...
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Shooting Targets and Raising U.S. Sharpshooters Regiments

Originally filed with records related to the 2nd United States Sharpshooters, these targets were for years presumed by Pennsylvania State archivists to have been produced by members of the famed infantry regiment while firing target practice with their Sharps rifles. Further investigation, however, has uncovered additional information that reinterprets why and by whom the targets were created....
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Fayette at the Crossroads

Fayette County has always been at the crossroads, both literally and figuratively, its destiny shaped by its location, the incredible riches of its natural resources and the vi­tality of a people descended from al­most every nation of Europe. It has a son of dual personality, geo­graphically divided between mountains and lowlands, historically divided into two almost equal eras of economic...
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Back to the Land! Pennsylvania’s New Deal Era Communities

The economic collapse of 1929 ushered in a decade fraught with deep, often tremu­lous, questioning of the na­tion’s development and future. Many were the cries to re­turn to the land. As a result, two all-new rural communities founded in Pennsylvania in the mid-1930s – Norvelt, in Westmoreland County, and Penn-Craft, in adjacent Fayette County – remain today as testimony to...
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Daniel Boone: The Formative Years

Baumstown’s most famous resident lived in the rural village two and a half cen­turies ago, but he hasn’t been forgotten by generations of Berks countians – or by the rest of the nation for that matter. Nineteen Eighty-Four may best be remembered for its apocalyptic tidings, cour­tesy of writer George Orwell, but it also marked, in November, the 250th anniver­sary of the birth...
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Uniontown’s Prince of the Gilded Age

Nothing captures the attention of the press more than a good scandal. In Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in January 1915, it had one. The financial collapse of coal baron Josiah V. Thompson, and the ruin of his bank, summoned a reporter from the New York Tribune to the Fayette County seat. Stepping off at the Pennsyl­vania Railroad station, the unidentified reporter hurried to Thompson’s office...
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Historical Sketch of Greene County

Greene County lies in the southwestern corner of the state. Its many hills, the distinguishing feature of the countryside, grow more pronounced as one travels from the eastern to the western areas. The old Washington Waynes­burg Railroad, traveling through the hills, was famous for its 178 sharp turns, each of which jolted the passengers. There were some who took the trip just for the roller...
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Historic Preservation in Pennsylvania: A Primer

Depending on the individual, historic preser­vation evokes a myriad of interpretations. To the local historical society, it’s restoring the town’s oldest structure to a house-museum showcasing collections of period antiques. To community planners, it often results in a challenge of saving the best while destroying the rest. And to many, historic preservation means little more than a...
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