Trailheads

Charter Day – always the second Sunday in March – kicks off the spring season on the Pennsylvania Trails of History. Public program schedules start to fill up, and the influx of school group visits reaches its peak. Spring lambs and other animal babies make their appearance at sites with livestock programs, and our many gardens show signs of new life as well. For up-to-date...
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Windows on Pennsylvania’s Natural Places: Restoring Mammal Hall at The State Museum

At The State Museum of Pennsylvania, the beavers are busier than ever repairing their dam. The mountain lion gazes more intently at its prey, advancing stealthily upon a slanted tree trunk. And you might imagine you feel a chill as you approach the freshly fallen snow in the bison’s nighttime scene. If you haven’t visited the museum’s third-floor Mammal Hall recently, you’ll now notice that the...
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Natural History Trails

Charles Willson Peale’s Philadelphia Museum, although relatively short-lived, influenced the development of similar projects elsewhere. In 1827, the year Peale died, the Harmony Society at Economy in Pennsylvania opened one of the first natural history museums west of the Alleghenies. Like Peale’s museum, the Harmonist effort was largely exhausted by the middle of the 19th century, and its...
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Monster Bones: Charles Willson Peale and the Mysterious Nondescript Animal

On October 14, 1800, a New York City newspaper called Mercantile Advertiser published a rather lengthy news/opinion piece on some large and very curious bones that had been unearthed on a farm belonging to John Masten, located about 14 miles from the New York state village of Newburgh. The unidentified author observed that “these huge bones irresistibly force upon us by the power of associating...
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Editor’s Letter

The cover of this edition of Pennsylvania Heritage is graced with the famous 1822 painting titled The Artist in His Museum, in which Charles Willson Peale portrayed himself at age 81 in the museum he established in Philadelphia, located at the time in the Long Gallery on the second floor of the Pennsylvania State House (now called Independence Hall). In the painting, Peale lifts a curtain,...
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John James Audubon by Gregory Nobles

John James Audubon The Nature of the American Woodsman by Gregory Nobles University of Pennsylvania Press, 330 pp., cloth $34.95, The 10 chapters of this excellent book review the life and times of John James Audubon (1785–1851) in a refreshingly honest manner, detailing Audubon’s development as a brilliant bird artist and scientist and, most importantly, his careful creation of an image of...
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Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation Newsletter

Topics in the Summer 2016 Newsletter: Giving Circle Dinner Pennsylvania Wildlife Art Exhibit Opens Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry Day Naturalist Scott Weidensaul to Speak at The State Museum Lulos Joins PHF Board Join the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation  ...
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From the Executive Director

For many of us, spring is the traditional season to think about nature and the great outdoors, but here at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), we think about it all year long. It’s hard to separate Pennsylvania’s history from its natural history; in fact, PHMC is officially charged with “the conservation of Pennsylvania’s historic and natural...
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Baird of the Smithsonian

“You see sir, I have taken (after much hesitation) the liberty of writing to you. I am but a boy, and very inexperienced, as you no doubt will observe from my description of the Flycatcher.” In this way, young Spencer Fullerton Baird, seventeen years of age, introduced himself by letter to John James Audubon. His accurate description and measurements of the flycatcher enabled Audubon...
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The Jefferis Collection: A Pennsylvania Treasure

In February 1905, four men entered a small brick building on Miner Street in West Chester and began a month of careful labor. Using cotton and fine wood shavings, they individually wrapped 35,000 mineral speci­mens with their handwritten labels, carefully placed them into boxes, nailed the boxes shut and hauled box after box to the West Chester railroad station. Newspaper reporters kept the...
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