Old Economy Village: The Centennial of the First Site on the Pennsylvania Trails of History

One hundred years ago, on February 3, 1916, the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas, in an escheat case, awarded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 6 acres of land that had been part of the town of Economy. World War I was raging in Europe, and with the United States’ entrance in the war the following year, the state had little time or money to deal with a newly acquired historic site. In 1919 the...
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Free-Thinking, 19th-Century Style

Francis Ellingwood Abbot (1836–1903) was nothing if not determined. In 1872, as editor of The Index, the nation’s leading free-thought magazine, he began to muster the full force of his small army of subscribers against what was being called “the God-in-the-Constitution amendment.” A philosopher and theologian, he sought to reconstruct theology in accordance with scientific methodology. From the...
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Currents

To Be Modern In 1921, Philadelphia’s venerable Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts mounted the first comprehensive display of American modernist works in an American museum with the ground­breaking “Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings Showing the Later Tendencies in Art.” The exhibition’s selection com­mittee, composed of such “moderns” as Thomas Hart...
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Birthday Bank

When Louis Wolf, president of the Federation of Jewish Charities of Philadelphia, composed his annual message for 1915, he could be gratified that his agency had raised more than $210,000 to help the Jewish community. Of that total, thirty-five dollars had come from pennies saved by Jewish school children. This speck on the balance sheet, however, pleased Wolf more than the many larger...
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Letters to the Editor

Class in Camelot The early 1960s may have seen America’s “Camelot” of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, but we had our own magical kingdom here in Pennsylvania as well with the administration of Governor William W. Scranton. I enjoyed the recent article on Governor Scranton [“The Gentle­man from Pennsylvania: An Interview with William W. Scranton” by Michael J....
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Violence and Vigilantes: The KKK in Pennsylvania

It was a warm, muggy day in early August 1921 in Philadelphia when F. W. Atkins of Jacksonville, Florida, and W. J. Bellamy of Cincinnati, Ohio, rented an office in the Bellevue Court Building to quietly recruit members for “a great and patriotic crusade to save the nation.” Their goal was to organize a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Posing as a prospective KKK initiate, a...
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Letters to the Editor

A Doc in the House Every Pennsylvania resident and visitor is indebted to “Doc” Goddard for his foresight and determination [see “Maurice K. Goddard, The Commonwealth’s Conservation Czar” by Ernest Morrison, Fall 2002]. No matter where you travel in this beautiful state, what you don’t see – polluted streams and rivers, desecrated scenic areas, and...
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Sowing a Wealth Uncommon

When Pennsylvania’s thirty-seven-year-old founder William Penn (1644-1718) drew plans for Philadelphia, he specified a central park of ten acres and four symmetrically placed squares of eight acres each “for the comfort and recreation of all forever.” In his September 30, 1681, instructions to his commissioners, he also mandated private space. “Let every House be placed,...
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Camptown

Stephen Collins Foster, son of Ger­man immigrants William Barclay and Eliza Tomlinson Foster, was born in Lawrenceville, near Pittsburgh, on July 4, 1826. As a child, he seemed to have more interest in music than in school. As a teen he was composing music, including “Oh! Susanna.” His first published song, “Open Thy Lattice Love,” was published in Philadelphia in 1844....
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The Pennsylvania Dugout Canoe Project

Then: Imagine the sight of individuals clad only in loincloths, furiously chipping at a large felled log, slivers of wood flying high above them, and smoke curling upward from sections of the burning tree as they carve out a dugout canoe. Now: In painstakingly precise recreations, archaeologists of the Bureau for Historic Preservation (BHP) of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission...
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