Celebrities Discover Who They Are at the Pennsylvania State Archives

Archivist Aaron McWilliams smiles and shifts his gaze toward the floor when asked about his brush with TV stardom. Every so often, a patron visiting the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, where he works, will ask him what it was like to appear alongside veteran Hollywood actor Steve Buscemi on a 2011 episode of Who Do You Think You Are? a reality series in which...
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Lancaster County: Diversity of People, Ideas and Economy

When Lancaster County was established on May 10, 1729, it became the proto­type for the sixty-three counties to follow. The original three counties­Philadelphia, Bucks and Chester – were created as copies of typical English shires. The frontier conditions of Ches­ter County’s backwoods, from which Lancaster was formed, presented knot­ty problems to the civilized English­men....
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Pennsylvania’s Architectural Heritage: Statehouses and Capitols

Through the three centuries of Pennsylvania’s history, the build­ings that always have been both the functional and symbolic heart of the Commonwealth have been the seats of government. These statehouses and capitols bespeak much about the governmental structure and social ideals of the respective ages which created them. Indeed, the very change of nomenclature from statehouse to capitol...
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Clinton County: Still Part of Penn’s Woods

Clinton County, one of the sixth-class counties of Pennsyl­vania, occupies 900 square miles of river valley and mountain land near the geographical center of the state. Nearly two-thirds of the area re­mains forested, al though most of the trees are second growth after a near denuding of the land by a booming lumber industry in the second half of the last century. It was in the wood­lands of...
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Columbia County is Diversity

From the time of the earliest settlements during the Revolu­tionary War era to the present day, Columbia County has been three sepa­rate neighborhoods-the southern re­gion (Catawissa and Centralia); the northern area (Benton and Millville) and the north bank of the Susquehanna River (Bloomsburg and Berwick). They are distinguishable by varied physical environments, ethnic origins and social...
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McKean County: Where the Gold is Green

The great gold and silver rushes of the late nineteenth century to places such as the Black Hills, Colorado, Arizona, California and Alaska have long been hailed in story and song for their excite­ment, riches and heartbreak. But, the rush for “green gold” to McKean County during the same century was equally or more exciting. First, there were the forests – immense forests of...
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Montour County: The Little County that Persevered

Despite its size, Mon­tour County – with an area measuring one hundred and thirty square miles, making it the smallest county in the Commonwealth – claims an undeniably large role in the cultural, political and indus­trial development of Pennsyl­vania. Organized less than a century and a half ago, the county lays hold to a number of distinctions which hallmark its place in...
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The Boals of Boalsburg: Two Hundred Years of a Pennsylvania Heritage

What is the story of America? The question stirs the imagina­tion, conjuring romantic im­ages of stalwart pioneers stalking the vast wilderness, of hardworking farming families toiling from sunrise long past sunset, and of village mer­chants eking out meager livelihoods in America’s heartland. Much of the story is devoted to the fledging hamlets and em­bryonic communities and their...
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Women in Pennsylvania … The First Two Hundred Years

In the past two hundred years thousands of women have contributed significantly to the social, economic, political and cultural richness of Pennsylvania. An encyclopedia could barely sketch their contributions. Since this article cannot possibly present a complete picture of women’s history in our state, it will survey the changes in women’s roles with brief accounts of a few famous...
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Historical Sketch of Luzerne County

The Proclamation Line of 1763 was a stopgap devised to give England a chance to gather her forces and to adopt a policy for further expansion of the American colonies along the Atlantic seaboard. The Treaty at Fort Stanwix in 1768 resulted in a pre-revolutionary division of Indian land to establish a boundary between the Indian hunting grounds and the white settlements. The treaty was the last...
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