“From My Own Observation and Familiar Acquaintance”: Phebe Earle Gibbons Introduces the Pennsylvania Dutch to the World

  “It was on a Sunday morning in March, when the air was bleak and the roads were execrable, that I obtained a driver to escort me to the farm-house where an Amish meeting was to be held,” wrote Phebe Earle Gibbons (1821–93), describing a Lancaster County Amish religious gathering in the late 1860s. “The floors were bare, but on one of the open doors hung a long white towel,...
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Editor’s Letter

Twenty years ago, Pennsylvania became the setting for one of the most tragic but heroic episodes in recent U.S. history, when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a meadow in Somerset County after passengers fought back at al-Qaeda hijackers who had planned to use the aircraft for an attack on an unknown target in Washington, D.C. In this issue we mark the somber anniversary of 9/11 with the...
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World of Trouble by Richard Godbeer

World of Trouble: A Philadelphia Quaker Family’s Journey through the American Revolution by Richard Godbeer Yale University Press, 480 pp, hardcover $38 Fortunately, some historians are meticulous researchers, and their thoroughness inspires deep confidence in their narratives. And fortunately, some historians are skilled topic-choosers and narrative-spinners; readers are mesmerized by their...
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Three Generations on the Underground Railroad: The Gibbons Family of Lancaster County

Shortly after sunset, a fugitive slave from Maryland tapped on a window of a modest farmhouse near Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. Daniel and Hannah Gibbons walked swiftly to the door. The Quaker couple escorted the young man to the barn to sleep and in the morning summoned him back to the house. If the fugitive’s owner was in close pursuit, they would send him to another farm. If there seemed to be...
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To Form a More Perfect Union: Violet Oakley’s Murals in the Pennsylvania Senate Chamber

At breakfast tables on Sunday morning, December 3, 1911, readers of The New York Times were confronted with a surprising headline running across the magazine section: “A WOMAN CHOSEN TO COMPLETE THE ABBEY PAINTINGS.” Four months earlier, the news that the American artist Edwin Austin Abbey (1852–1911) had passed away in London raised speculation about who would receive the remainder of his...
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William Penn by Andrew R. Murphy

William Penn A Life by Andrew R. Murphy Oxford University Press, 460 pp., cloth $34.95 In this deeply researched and richly detailed volume, Andrew R. Murphy provides the fullest biographical study to date of Pennsylvania founder and first proprietor William Penn. The author has mined sources on both sides of the Atlantic to give a life-and-times accounting of Penn’s ardent Quakerism, colonial...
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From the Anonymous Lady to the Peales and the Sullys: Philadelphia’s Professional Women Artists of the Early Republic

The Colonial and Revolutionary periods in Philadelphia saw little art production by women outside the home. Not only did the religious and social culture of Philadelphia demand that women make the home and children their primary focus, but also there were no formal schools for instruction in either the fine or applied arts. Apprenticeships with painters, printmakers or sculptors were usually...
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The Fearless Benjamin Lay by Marcus Rediker

The Fearless Benjamin Lay The Quaker Dwarf Who Became The First Revolutionary Abolitionist by Marcus Rediker Beacon Press, 224 pp., cloth $26.95 Who cares about Benjamin Lay (1682–1759), a 4-foot-tall, malformed, 18th-century member of a minority religious network known as the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)? Until recently, not very many people. But in seven gracefully crafted chapters...
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The Last Days of William Penn

“My poor Dearests last breath was fetchd this morning between 2 & 3 a Clock.” So wrote a distraught Hannah Penn to longtime friend and advisor Thomas Story on July 30, 1718. The remains of her husband were taken to Jordans Meeting House in Buckinghamshire and buried there on August 5 beside his first wife Gulielma. Quakers and non-Quakers alike attended the funeral. Jordans is a quiet place,...
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Herb Pennock, Baseball Hall of Famer and World War I Vet

Herbert Jefferis “Herb” Pennock (1894-1948) was born and raised in Kennett Square, Chester County. He was reared in the Religious Society of Friends, or Quaker, faith. He was the son of Mary L. (Sharp) and Theodore Pennock, a well-to-do businessman whose lineage in Pennsylvania stretched back to 1685, when Christopher Pennock immigrated to Philadelphia from Ireland. Nicknamed the...
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