Pennsylvania Polymath: Samuel Stehman Haldeman

Samuel Stehman Haldeman was a pioneer in American science with an uncompromising empirical bent who made definitive contributions in geology, metallurgy, zoology and the scientific study of language. His groundbreaking lifework touched nearly seven decades of science and included identification of one of the oldest fossils in Pennsylvania, elucidation of a plan for an anthracite coal furnace for...
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Editor’s Letter

With the recent premiere of Country Music, director Ken Burns has launched another epic PBS TV docuseries that amplifies the significance of an enduring American institution. In this issue’s cover story, “High on a Mountain,” we follow up with a look at Pennsylvania’s key role in the evolution of country music and the state’s later contributions to the genre. Author Joe Baker takes us on a...
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Artful Trails

In honor of the 50th Art of the State exhibition, open through September 10, 2017, at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, we’re exploring art at other historic sites and museums along PHMC’s Pennsylvania Trails of History. As visual storytellers, our sites employ a multidisciplinary approach to documenting and sharing Pennsylvania heritage. Artworks frequently play a role in the study...
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Digging Deep: 50 Years of Preservation Archaeology in Pennsylvania

On a lovely morning in early autumn, I arrive at an old farm along the Susquehanna River to find Dr. Frank Vento in his natural element. That is to say, he is squatting down at the bottom of a backhoe trench some 8 feet deep, carefully examining the many layers of flood-deposited sediment left behind by the great river. Frank, recently retired from the faculty at Clarion University, is a...
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Alfred King’s Forgotten Fossil Footprints

The science of paleontology – the study of ancient life based on fossils – began in Western Europe about 1800. It soon cropped up in the United States, as the populace of a young and growing nation discovered many fossils. Among these early discoveries were those of fossil footprints, most famously found during the early 1800s in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts and...
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White Glove Service at The State Museum: It’s Not What You Might Think

Sometimes hands-on history projects require gloves. White cotton gloves, to be precise. In June 2012 three curators at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, donned gloves and began the first of an orderly series of planned inventories of the museum’s collections known as the Collections Advancement Project (CAP). By the end of summer three more curators joined the team and the...
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Geologic History of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania and its citizens have made significant contributions to the development of America. Its rich heritage in culture, industry, transportation, agriculture, education, communication, economic development, and many other areas of human endeavor have truly been a keystone in the forging of a growing nation. Its traditions have been recorded in the archives of printed materials, in the...
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Executive Director’s Message

Caring for museum collections is one of the less visible, but among the most critical, functions of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The recent acquisition of a rare Conestoga wagon by our Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster County reminds us of our responsibility to allocate resources carefully and preserve the objects and artifacts that reflect our rich heritage. The wagon was...
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Bookshelf

Keystone of Justice: The Pennsylvania Superior Court By Patrick J. Tamilia and John J. Hare Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, 2000 (366 pages; cloth, $29.95; paper, $19.95) A result of crisis in appellate proceedings, once solely the domain of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, was the creation, in 1895, of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania....
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Mississippian Amphibian

When people think of fossil vertebrates, they usually think of fossilized bones or footprints, the most common of remains. On rare occasions, paleontologists may come across other fossils that are truly exceptional, such as an entire body outline or impression. A recent rediscovery of a highly unusual specimen hidden away in the vaults of the Reading Public Museum in Reading, Berks County, has...
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