PHMC Highlights

Lost Revolutionary War-Era Legislative Minutes Returned A lost original volume of the minutes of Pennsylvania’s unicameral Revolutionary War–era General Assembly was recently returned to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for safekeeping at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, Dauphin County. The book, with entries dated from March 16 through September 27, 1779, and pages numbered 1...
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Loleta Recreation Area

Upon his inauguration on March 4, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set about combating the economic crisis of the Great Depression with his New Deal program of economic reforms and public work projects. One of the most popular programs established that year was “Roosevelt’s Tree Army,” the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which was part of the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) Act....
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Anthracite Mining and the Slavic Immigration

Those unfamiliar with Pennsylvania’s ethnic geography might be surprised to see a 1918 postcard penned in Russian like this one sent from Hazleton, Luzerne County, which translates as, “Tomorrow we are moving to a different place. Here is the address…. Greetings and kisses.” Following earlier immigration waves of primarily Northern and Western Europeans, the United States experienced an...
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A Pitcher, A President and a Home Movie

In November 2013 the Pennsylvania State Archives was contacted by Mrs. Judith Savastio regarding a home movie that her father filmed. She had questions about preserving the film and was interested in finding a repository for its permanent care. Mrs. Savastio’s father, Major League Baseball pitcher James “Jimmie” DeShong (1909-1993), shot the film on his new 8mm home movie...
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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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Stability and Change: Culture During Three Periods

“Religion, … the best bond of human society, provided man did not err in the meaning of that excellent word.” – William Penn   Culture, broadly de­fined, is the way of life of a group of people; it includes all their behavioral patterns, beliefs and ar­tistic expressions. Culture is not static; it varies over time and place. Culture does not arise in a vacuum; it...
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Columbia County is Diversity

From the time of the earliest settlements during the Revolu­tionary War era to the present day, Columbia County has been three sepa­rate neighborhoods-the southern re­gion (Catawissa and Centralia); the northern area (Benton and Millville) and the north bank of the Susquehanna River (Bloomsburg and Berwick). They are distinguishable by varied physical environments, ethnic origins and social...
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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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The Merry-Go-Round Kings

Murmuring voices and laughter, mingling with the strains of band organ music and the rustling of long white skirts and crisply starched shirts, filled the sum­mer air of 1904 at Philadel­phia’s Woodside Park. A new carousel, one of the finest in America, had just introduced a kaleidoscope of festive color and design to the familiar old amusement grounds. It was, especially, the onset of...
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Julius Bloch: The Time Has Come

Early in his career, artist Julius Bloch (1888-1966) painted serene landscapes, but the force of his compassion for the human struggle soon over­powered his heart and his canvas. He felt compelled to portray instead the blacks, the working poor, the unemployed that made up the fabric of American life during the Great Depression. In 1932, he won­dered in his journal why such somber subjects...
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