Montgomery County: Cultural Microcosm of the Commonwealth

The third most populous county in Pennsylvania, with ap­proximately 480 square miles of rolling hills criss-crossed by rivers, streams and superhighways, Montgom­ery County is a microcosm of the Com­monwealth, a reflection of its cultural development. Pan of Philadelphia County until 1784, Montgomery Coun­ty served as a sanctuary for numerous ethnic and religious groups seeking the freedom...
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Life in an Industrial Boom Town: Monessen, 1898-1923

In reading about our nation’s past, we often forget how different life was for our ancestors. We read about historical figures and movements, but rarely – except in excellent historical novels – do we gain a glimpse into the living environment. We also tend to for­get that there are many past environ­ments, each producing its own style and pace of living. During the late...
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Women Go to Work!

The illusion of the Victorian woman – a creature accustomed to leisure and com­fort- was alive and well in Indiana County at the turn of the century. Newspaper columns reported a variety of social activities in which women participated, including temperance and missionary societies, social and reading clubs. Advertisements for medicines appealed to women who considered themselves delicate,...
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A Treasure Trove of Books

Considered one of the finest repositories of rare books in the nation, the Rare Book Collection of the State Library of Pennsylvania was, at its conception, nothing more than an accumulation of law books necessary for the founding fathers to organize and govern the province. In­deed, for two more centuries, the collection of rarities and unique volumes, as it is known and safeguarded today, was...
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A Music Student Bridges the World

Ralph Modjeski seemed destined­ – even at the age of seven – for an accom­plished, if not celebrated, career as a concert pianist. After years of intense training and practice as a music student, he dramatically changed his course of studies at the age of twenty in favor, oddly enough, of a career in civil engineering. He did not, however, abandon his talent and practiced several...
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Pennsylvania’s First Television Station: “Loving What We Were Doing”

No champagne corks popped at Philadel­phia’s old Philco plant on October 17, 1941, to celebrate. The achievement failed to rate even a few lines in local newspapers as reports of the increasingly grim drama unfolding in Eu­rope took chilling precedence. Like so many of the seemingly minor events that herald major changes in our way of living, America’s first commercial network...
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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...
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The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts: An Ideal and a Symbol

By 1805, the year the Pennsylvania Acad­emy of the Fine Arts was founded, Phila­delphia had achieved a large measure of political, social and economic stability. It had been the nation’s capital and contin­ued to thrive as a center of banking and commerce. The largest city in the United States at the opening of the nineteenth century, it was arguably the center of culture, with Boston its...
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Pennsylvania’s Musical Publishers: Fueling a Nation’s Fervor

A dynamic America was frenetically modernizing and vigorously expand­ing during the historic decades before and following the open­ing of the twentieth century. While the West, or open land, was essentially closed with the 1889 admission of four new states, and two more the fol­lowing year, the country gen­erated a diverse output of agricultural and basic indus­trial goods. National produc­tion...
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Pomp, Pageantry and a Parade: Celebrating the Constitution’s Centennial

With the thunder of a one hundred gun naval salute at precisely ten o’clock on the morning of Thursday, September 15, 1887, the nation’s centennial celebra­tion of the adoption of the United States Con­stitution opened with great fanfare in Philadelphia. The booming cannon blast from a naval squadron on the Delaware River launched three jubilant days of parades, military marches,...
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