After All: Charles Demuth, a Modernist in Lancaster

Charles Demuth was an artist of wide reputation, represented in some of the most eminent art museums in the country. It would take some time, however, for his work to be appreciated in his own hometown of Lancaster, where the majority of his most significant paintings were created. Many of his works featured Lancaster settings and architecture. His acclaimed masterpiece, My Egypt, depicted one...
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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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Tough and Determined: Pioneering Newspaper Editor Rebecca F. Gross

On a night in the winter of 1947-48, Rebecca F. Gross, 42 years old and the editor of a 10,000-circulation daily newspaper in the small town of Lock Haven, Clinton County, was scheduled to have dinner with two luminaries of the time: Robert Capa, the internationally famous war photographer, and John Steinbeck, the novelist and future Nobel laureate. The dinner was an event set up for members of...
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Philadelphia’s Forgotten Inventor: The Untold Story of Rudolph M. Hunter

The lot at 3710 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia is all but empty now – a low scraggly hedge in front, a scattering of shade trees, a long concrete walk on the right, skirting Penn Newman Catholic Center. It’s hard to imagine the fanciful Victorian mansion that once adorned the site – a “pretty residence of brick,” the Philadelphia Press unimaginatively put it in...
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Good Road Followed … From Metro Philly to Rock Hall: An Interview with John Oates

John Oates is one half of the best-selling rock duo Hall & Oates, as well as an accomplished solo artist. Singing from the time he could talk and playing the guitar since the age of 5, John Oates was destined to be a musician. He was born in 1948 in New York City, but his family relocated to North Wales, Montgomery County, in the early 1950s, a move that would change the course of his life....
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Old Economy Village: The Centennial of the First Site on the Pennsylvania Trails of History

One hundred years ago, on February 3, 1916, the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas, in an escheat case, awarded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 6 acres of land that had been part of the town of Economy. World War I was raging in Europe, and with the United States’ entrance in the war the following year, the state had little time or money to deal with a newly acquired historic site. In 1919 the...
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The Lady in Charge

In its heyday, Philadelphia’s Arch Street Theatre seated approximately 2,000 patrons for each performance who came to see the renowned thespians of the 19th century. Popular performers – Fanny Davenport, Joseph Jefferson and Charlotte Cushman – played “The Arch” at 819 Arch Street. Even actor John Wilkes Booth took his turn there as Macbeth two years before he...
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J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, Huntingdon, Pa.

“Son arrived this eve 730.” I. John Schipper, born in 1878 in Pekin, Illinois, wrote to a Mrs. F.L. Velde, also of Pekin, on July 5 in the early 1920s – the year is unreadable in the postmark. “Edith is doing fine,” he continued. “In this hospital Room marked X. Tell all my friends please.” Schipper, a resident of Six Mile Run, Huntingdon County, at the time, was manager of mines for the...
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Robert Grant’s Calcium Lights

The American Civil War provided opportunities for many Northern inventors to profit. Before the war began inventor Robert Grant of New York City had advocated the use of his calcium lights to illuminate streets. After the war broke out he encouraged their use by Union forces as a way to facilitate night combat by illuminating the enemy’s fortified heights. In 1863 the Union employed two of...
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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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