Sentiments of a British-American Woman by Owen S. Ireland

Sentiments of a British-American Woman Esther Deberdt Reed and The American Revolution by Owen S. Ireland Pennsylvania State University Press, 264 pp., cloth $89.95 Esther DeBerdt Reed led a remarkable and significant life. Born in 1746, this daughter of a prosperous London merchant fell in love with Joseph Reed, a young American law student with whom she sustained a years-long transatlantic...
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The Last Days of William Penn

“My poor Dearests last breath was fetchd this morning between 2 & 3 a Clock.” So wrote a distraught Hannah Penn to longtime friend and advisor Thomas Story on July 30, 1718. The remains of her husband were taken to Jordans Meeting House in Buckinghamshire and buried there on August 5 beside his first wife Gulielma. Quakers and non-Quakers alike attended the funeral. Jordans is a quiet place,...
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The Loyal Son by Daniel Mark Epstein

The Loyal Son The War in Ben Franklin’s House by Daniel Mark Epstein Ballantine Books, 464 pp., cloth $30 The Loyal Son vividly narrates the complex and often painful relationship between Benjamin Franklin (1706–90) and his son William Franklin (c.1730–1813), from its beginnings in Philadelphia to its foundering on the rocks of the American Revolution. For some 40 years, the pair were on warm,...
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Harriet Lane Johnston: The Legacy of a White House Hostess

On the cool, overcast day of May 9, 2017, a dozen nurses from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center arrived by bus at Green Mount Cemetery, a leafy 19th-century oasis in center city Baltimore. They carried a generous bouquet of flowers to decorate the grave of Harriet Lane Johnston, niece of James Buchanan (1791–1868), Pennsylvania’s only U.S. president. “Without Harriet Lane, we don’t know what...
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Young William Penn

There’s an old idiom that says “the child is father of the man,” but this is complicated by the stage between childhood and adulthood – adolescence. The usual image of William Penn is of a pious, peaceable Quaker who rejected anything loud, proud or worldly. But his upbringing took place in the extremism, violence and carnality of mid-17th-century England. By the end of...
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From Wilkes-Barre to the Wild West: George Catlin, Indian Painter

His early exposure to American Indians indelibly impressed northeastern Pennsylvania native George Catlin (1796–1872). His mother Mary “Polly” Sutton Catlin (1770–1844), married in 1789 to Putnam Catlin (1764–1842), formed his earliest impressions of Native Americans. With her mother Sarah Smith Sutton (1747–1834) she was captured and held captive at the age of seven by Iroquois. The day was...
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Historian of Pennsylvania Exceptionalism: Samuel W. Pennypacker

Reflecting on “the play of forces” that propelled him to Pennsylvania’s governor’s office in 1903, Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker (1843–1916) confidently declared, “there is no such thing as an accident” (a notion popularized by Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis). This was not to say chance plays no part in history because he pronounced with equal certitude: “To every man certain...
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Currents

Hat’s Off! The Philadelphia Museum of Art will celebrate the art and craft of twentieth century millinery in the first major survey of its kind ever to be mounted in the United States. “Ahead of Fashion: Hats of the Twentieth Century” will open on Saturday, August 21 [1993], and continue through Sunday, November 28 [1993]. The exhibition will showcase one hundred of the...
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Currents

Fancy That! “Capricious Fancy: Draping and Curtaining, 1790-1930,” an exhibition tracing the history of design sources for draping and curtaining American and European interiors during the span of nearly one hundred and fifty years, will open at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia on Monday, December 6 [1993]. On view will be a selection of rare books, prints, and trade catalogues drawn...
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Mailbox

On March 18, 1811, Gov. Simon Snyder approved an act of the legislature for the creation of Schuylkill County from parts of Northampton and Berks counties. A map of Pennsylvania by John Melish, dated 1822, shows a “Kaups Creek,” a tributary of the Little Schuylkill River, to the east of Orwigsburg (which served as the county seat until 1851). Information regarding this creek is...
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