Ask A Curator Day

Sarah Buffington was quick with her response. The longtime curator at Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Beaver County, had expected the question and she was ready. “Probably a static electricity machine,” she said. “The communal Harmony Society had a science museum, which we’ve recreated. They tried to make electricity in the 1820s and ’30s. It didn’t work...
read more

John Wilkes Booth’s Cane at Drake Well Museum

Precisely 150 years ago this summer, actor-cum-assassin John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865) – who had joined the stock company of Philadelphia’s Arch Street Theatre in 1857 where he acted for the season – spent more than a month in northwestern Pennsylvania’s oil region looking after his investments during petroleum’s boom years. While appearing at the theatre, later managed by Louisa Lane...
read more

John Wilkes Booth and the Land of Oil

Beginning about 10:25 on the evening of April 14, 1865, the time and date President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Washington’s Ford Theatre by John Wilkes Booth, a mass of information including evidence and myths has accumulated regarding the act and those connected with it, particularJy about the assassin him­self. John Wilkes Booth was the ninth of ten children born to Junius...
read more

Crawford County: Welcoming the 21st Century

We passed over some good land since we eft Venango, and through several extensive and very rich meadows, one of which, I believe, was nearly four miles in length, and consid­erably wide in some places. Twenty-one year old George Washington, who would in time become a major landholder and land specula­tor, described Crawford County in 1753 as he carried a dispatch demanding the com­mander of the...
read more

Bookshelf

Guide to Photo­graphs at the Pennsylvania State Archives by Linda A. Ries Pennsylvania Histori­cal and Museum Commission, 1993 (229 pages, paper, $6.95) Although the Pennsylvania State Archives safeguards mostly documentary materi­als – such as the private and personal papers of individuals, governmental records, maps, military records, industrial reports, and similar archival items...
read more

Old Johnny’s Vision For An Industrial Society

Although Colonel John Frederick Hartranft (1830-1889) was only in his thirties during the Civil War, the rank and file of his 51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment fondly called him “Old Johnny.” His soldiers especially respected his ability to make the right decisions in combat and his altogether impartial and basically humane discipline. With a mind and eye trained as a civil...
read more

The Lincoln Train is Coming!

On Saturday morning, April 15, 1865, news of President Abraham Lincoln’s assas­sination reached Philadelphia. The treacher­ousness of the crime created a mix of feel­ings surging from fear and horror to inconsolable grief. A galvanized nation began mourning immediately. Printer cranked out broadside that were posted throughout Philadelphia lamenting the “Martyred Father.”...
read more

A Forgotten Hero of the Civil War

At seven o’clock on Thursday evening, April 18, 1861, approximately 475 Pennsylvania citizens-turned-soldiers, comprising the ranks of five volunteer militia companies, arrived in Washington D.C., to protect the nation’s capital. The first shots of the American Civil War were fired less than a week earlier at Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, and it had been just...
read more