From the Executive Director

Civil rights, voting rights and race relations. These are all topics of conversation today, as they have been for more than a century and a half across the United States, including here in Pennsylvania. But without a shared knowledge about the history of these topics, it becomes harder to have meaningful and productive conversations. This summer we are opening a new exhibit at The State Museum...
read more

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...
read more

Girard College: A Story of Change and Continuity

Girard College, a boarding school for orphans and other­wise under­privileged children, is located in a largely unattractive, grimy industrial district of Philadel­phia. Its location in the city’s north section does not conjure images of wealth or the Social Register, but its endowment marks it is as one of the richest boarding schools in the country. The story of Girard Col­lege and its...
read more

Shorts

To observe the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of its opening in 1848, Girard College will unveil an exhibition entitled “Monument to Philanthropy: The Design and Building of Girard College, 1832-1848,” on Sunday, May 3 [1998]. Financier Stephen Girard (1750-1831) established the school for orphans with a bequest of seven million dollars (see “Girard College: A Story of...
read more

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...
read more

African Americans and Civil Rights in Pennsylvania

Summer and swimming go hand in hand – or so thought the Creative Steps Day Care Camp. The camp’s leaders had signed a contract to use the pool at a private swim club, but when the children – 46 African Americans and ten Hispanics ranging from kindergarten through seventh grade – arrived for their summer swim, they were subjected to harsh criticism by some club members....
read more

Remembering Place: Black National Historic Landmarks in Pennsylvania

The National Historic Landmarks (NHL) program was established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and refined by amendments to it in 1980. The federal law requires the U.S. Department of the Interior to certify the historic authenticity of NHLs based on strident criteria, including association with events, people, and great ideas; distinguishing characteristics in architectural or...
read more