Free-Thinking, 19th-Century Style

Francis Ellingwood Abbot (1836–1903) was nothing if not determined. In 1872, as editor of The Index, the nation’s leading free-thought magazine, he began to muster the full force of his small army of subscribers against what was being called “the God-in-the-Constitution amendment.” A philosopher and theologian, he sought to reconstruct theology in accordance with scientific methodology. From the...
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Ship’s Silver Shines in State Museum

The custom whereby a state presented a silver service to the U.S. Navy battleship bearing its name is commemorated by a major exhibit, “The U.S.S. Pennsylvania and Her Silver,” which opened at the William Penn Memorial Museum in Harrisburg on September 26, 1981 and will remain in place through July 11, 1982 (see “Silver Service Set for William Penn Memorial Museum...
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Preserving Pieces of Pennsylvania’s Past: An Inside Look at the Building of the Commonwealth’s Collections

Associations between butterflies and buttons, Conestoga wagons and cannon, sculpture and arrowheads, or fossils and founder William Penn’s original Charter may seem tenuous, even obscure and, perhaps, nonsensical. But a relationship does exist: they are among the one and a half million objects and thirty thousand cubic feet of manuscripts, records, maps and photographs in the custody and...
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A Historical Sketch of Indiana County

Indiana County was named for the native Indians. During historic times the two principal tribes were the Delawares and Shawnees. Being reluctant to give up their lands, the Indians struggled desperately to keep out the tide of European settlers. Perhaps the first white settler to enter Indiana County was James LeTort, an Indian trader, about 1726-27. A place called “Letart’s...
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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...
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The Lady and the Titan

Before the creation of the Pulitzer Prize, long before Woodward and Bernstein, there was Pennsylvania’s own Ida M. Tarbell (1857-1944). Best known as the muckraking journalist who single-handedly took on the mighty John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), she was among the most feared and admired women of her time. Writing during the Progressive Era, an age of hope and reform running roughly from...
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