A Centennial, A Celebration, A Cache of Treasures

While Philadelphians in 1905 observed the centennial of the nation’s first art museum and school, the venerable Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pittsburghers flocked to Harry Davis’s Nickelodeon, the first motion picture theater opened in the United States. In Harrisburg that year, on Tuesday, March 28, Governor Samuel W. Penny­packer (1843-1916) signed legislation creating...
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Bedford Springs Hotel

This surely is a wonderful place to rest,” wrote an unidentified Laura to a Mrs. C. Brown Jr., of Charleroi, Washington County, on a postcard of the Bedford Springs Hotel postmarked June 28, 1928. “Wish Doc could stay forever,” she continued. “He feels a lot better.” Located one mile south of Bedford, Bedford County seat, Bedford Springs attracted attention as early...
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Supporting the Troops: Soldiers’ Right to Vote in Civil War Pennsylvania

As the presidential election of 1864 neared, the eyes of politicians in the North turned warily towards the armies of the Union. During the previous two years, nineteen northern states had passed legislation permitting volunteers to vote in the field, and many politicians believed that the soldiers’ votes would determine whether President Abraham Lincoln would be reelected in November....
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The Union’s Forgotten First Defenders

Throughout the four years of the American Civil War, more than two million men served the Union, some for months, others for years. The vast majority were volunteers, young boys and aging men who willingly left home behind to fight for the preservation of the Union and the eradication of slavery.1 Historians have documented the stories of countless citizens-turned-soldiers, recalling the...
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Waging War Their Own Way: Women and the Civil War in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s recently conserved Civil War Muster Rolls, housed at the Pennsylvania State Archives, document the commonwealth’s contributions to the Union. Nearly 345,000 Pennsylvanians served in the U.S. Army during the war, or approximately 60 percent of the adult male population.1 A century and a half ago clerks carefully transcribed the names, ages, regiments, and brief...
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The Union League of Philadelphia and the Civil War


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Current and Coming

Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Greatness More than five hundred objects, artifacts, documents, and photographs have been assembled for a landmark exhibit newly opened at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum in Allentown. Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Greatness explores the Keystone State’s impact on the sixteenth president’s life, political career, and rise to power. Lincoln’s great-great-grandfather...
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U.S. Sanitary Commission Great Central Fair

Soon after the outbreak of the American Civil War it became apparent that sanitary conditions in camps and on the battlefields were less than ideal. A group of women in New York first organized efforts to improve conditions and provide comfort to soldiers. Similar groups throughout the North also began to form and it became clear that efforts would be more efficient if overseen by the federal...
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An Interview with Richard C. Saylor: The Impact of the Civil War Legacy in Pennsylvania

Richard C. “Rich” Saylor, an archivist with the Pennsylvania State Archives, has been deep within the treasures that are the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) collections for nearly twenty years. He has become a highly respected expert on Pennsylvania Civil War history, research, and artifacts on behalf of the Commission. With a master’s degree in American Studies from Penn...
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Pennsylvania’s War Governor

On September 14, 1862, Pennsylvania’s Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin invited the governors of the northern and border states to a meeting to be held at Altoona, Blair County, in ten days. The purpose of the meeting that became known as the Loyal War Governors’ Conference — or, simply, the Altoona Conference – was to “take measures for a more active support of the government’s prosecution of...
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