The Early Years of Reading Socialism

Socialist candidates were often elected to local public office in the early twentieth century. and it was not unusual for members of the party to serve as mayors and councilmen in some towns and cities. In I 912, it was estimated that approximately 1,200 Socialists held offices across the country. Though many held very minor posts, Socialists often believed that their movement would continue to...
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A Most Deadly Business

During the early morning hours of December 5, 1885, John Lynot labored hundreds of feet underground in the stale air of his “breast,” a black chamber in the coal seam the size of a small room, preparing an explosive charge. An anthracite miner for the Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre Coal Company, Lynot earned eighty-five cents for each two ton mine car he filled. Finding the weakest point...
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Dauphin County: Chocolates, Coal, and a Capital

Dauphin County celebrates its two hundredth anniver­sary this year. The events and themes that are the history of the county reflect the experience of Pennsylvania and the United States. Dauphin County has never been a homogeneous commu­nity; indeed, it is difficult to consider it as a single commu­nity. From the beginning it has comprised individuals of diverse ethnic, national and religious...
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Cambria County: Coming Full Circle

Located in the highlands of west­-central Pennsylvania and amidst forbidding mountains – the Allegheny escarpment and the Laurel Ridge standing sentinel on its eastern and western borders­ – the territory that would become Cambria County was not easily accessible to early Pennsylvanians. Migrants bound westward during the second half of the eighteenth century avoided its...
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The Molly Maguires: Fighting for Justice

Early on the morning of Wednesday. Septem­ber 1, 1875, a young English-born mine foreman started from his Schuylkill County residence to the Shenandoah coal colliery where he was employed. A gunshot pierced the air. Scrambling for cover behind a neighbor’s house, he was met by another assassin who drew his revolver and fired. Struck in the groin, the young man staggered blindly and fell to...
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Northampton County: From Frontier Farms to Urban Industries – and Beyond

Sweeping across southcentral Pennsyl­vania lies the Great Valley and nestled in its northeastern corner is mod­ern Northampton County. Bordered on the east by the Delaware River, on the south by South Mountain and the piedmont, and on the west by the valley of the Lehigh River, the three hundred and seventy-two square mile re­gion is one of gently rolling hills and wooded valleys, with...
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To Organize the Unorganized

The year 1919 was marked by an explosion of activity in the American labor movement. Discontent surged among industrial workers as promises of wage increases and improved working conditions, made by employers during World War One, failed to materialize. Telegraph operators, theater ushers and textile workers joined firemen, policemen and dock workers to oppose some of the country’s most...
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A Salute to the Bicentennial of the Keystone State

The current Bicentennial celebration commemorates not the birth of the United States, but the proclama­tion of thirteen British-American colonies that were “free and independent states” as of July 4, 17.76. When they formed a loose compact in 1761, their articles of confederation declared that “each state retains its sover­eignty, freedom and independence.” The...
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The Depression Strikes Indiana County

The Great Depression of 1929-32 without question was one of the watershed periods in American history. Joseph Alex Morris once wrote that “people later would speak of ‘before 1929’ or ‘after 1929’ as Noah’s children may have spoken of the days before and after ‘The Flood.'” The personal deprivation and social upheaval of those times sent shock...
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Historical Sketch of Luzerne County

The Proclamation Line of 1763 was a stopgap devised to give England a chance to gather her forces and to adopt a policy for further expansion of the American colonies along the Atlantic seaboard. The Treaty at Fort Stanwix in 1768 resulted in a pre-revolutionary division of Indian land to establish a boundary between the Indian hunting grounds and the white settlements. The treaty was the last...
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