Commemorating a Centennial by Revising a Vision

The American museum was and is an idea. The European museum was a fact. Almost without exception the European museum was first a collection. With few exceptions most American museums were first an ideal,” Philadelphian Nathaniel Burt wrote in his 1977 history of the American museum, Palaces for People. Unlike their European counterparts, which were usually created to house the great...
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The Apotheosis of George Washington: America’s Cincinnatus and the Valley Forge Encampment

In the early evening hours of December 19, 1777, the Continental Army, commanded by Gen. George Washington, marched into Valley Forge to encamp for the winter while the British occupied Philadelphia. Within days, six inches of snow blanketed the ground and the nearby Schuylkill River was frozen solid. Undernourished and poorly clothed, and with no immediate prospects for provisioning, many of...
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Currents

Great Greek Following six years of extensive gallery and storage area renovations, The Univer­sity Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadel­phia, has recently reopened its exhibition space devoted to ancient Greek civilization. This new exhibit, entitled “The Ancient Greek World,” offers visitors a broad overview of the history and culture of ancient Greece and its colonial...
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Remember the Ladies: Women and the American Revolution

Today, American women are barred by law from most combat roles, but they have played a part in battle since the American Revolu­tion, a tradition that continued through the Civil War, the World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, the invasion of Panama in 1989 and, most recently, the Persian Gulf War. During the Civil War, at least four hundred women – those actually caught and...
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A Commonwealth Treasure: Brandywine Battlefield Park

Brandywine Battlefield now lies quiet and peaceful, offering no grim hint of the heartbreak it once witnessed and bloodshed that stained its tall meadow grasses. Two hundred and twenty years ago this autumn its tranquility was shattered by the cacophony of cannon and its fields trampled by soldiers – twenty-six thousand of them – determined to do battle. Today, this scenic region of...
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Letters to the Editor

Furnace Folklore The folklore of Cornwall Iron Furnace includes three apocryphal tales: Washing­ton and Lafayette visited; the value of gold extracted at Cornwall was sufficient to pay all mining expenses, all other revenue being pure profit; and stone from the dis­mantled Robert H. Coleman mansion was used in the construction of St. Luke’s Epis­copal Church in Lebanon [“Letters to...
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Leader of the Band

During a visit to Philadelphia in 1818, Englishman Robert Wahn discovered and wrote in his travel diary about a remarkably talented black musician. And by putting pen to paper, he unwittingly recorded for posterity the existence of an early nineteenth­-century musician, composer, and conductor. “The Leader of the band,” wrote Wahn, “is a descendant of Africa [who] possesses a...
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Joseph Priestley, Catalyst of the Enlightenment

When Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) is remembered today, it’s usually for his 1774 discovery, in England, of oxygen. Few know he was a noted theologian, political progressive, and prolific author whose scientific contributions include the development of the carbonation process, the identification of carbon monoxide, and early experiments in electricity. He counted Benjamin Franklin, Thomas...
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18th Century Clock at Joseph Priestley House

An exuberantly styled marble mantle clock, decorated with ormolu and capped by a figural grouping of nesting birds, once belonged to scientist, theologian, and natural philosopher Joseph Priestley (1733-1804). According to the donor, the clock, made by Guy d’Amour, Paris, was given to Priestley by the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) in appreciation of his support of the French Revolution....
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David McNeely Stauffer’s Little Known Legacy to Lancaster

“Nothing con­tributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.” A passage from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s 1818 clas­sic Frankenstein may be a most unlikely source, but these words characterize the equally unlikely life of Lancaster County native David McNeely Stauffer (1845-1913). Born in Richland...
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