A Home for History: S.K. Stevens and the Campaign for the William Penn Memorial Museum and Archives

by Curtis Miner On December 23, 1959, Dr. S.K. Stevens (1904-74) sent out a final, end-of-the-year message to members of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). It came in the form of a brief, typewritten memo, informing them that Governor David L. Lawrence (1889-1966) had that morning signed a spending bill for the construction of a museum and archives building. “I think this...
read more

Donald R. Brown and the Institute of American Deltiology

Donald R. Brown may well be the Dr. Albert C. Barnes of the postcard world. An ardent deltiologist, he promotes postcards as resources for the scholarly study of society, culture and heritage. In 70-odd years of collecting postcards, he’s amassed an unrivaled private collection, housed in his Institute of American Deltiology (IAD), an incorporated nonprofit foundation, museum and research center...
read more

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...
read more

A Treasure Trove of Books

Considered one of the finest repositories of rare books in the nation, the Rare Book Collection of the State Library of Pennsylvania was, at its conception, nothing more than an accumulation of law books necessary for the founding fathers to organize and govern the province. In­deed, for two more centuries, the collection of rarities and unique volumes, as it is known and safeguarded today, was...
read more

The Pennsylvania Archives and Research Opportunities in the Era of the American Revolution

Over the years the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has amassed a rich treasure of source materials for re­search and writing on Pennsylvania history.* The archival, manuscript, and microfilm holdings of the Pennsylvania State Archives are certainly significant as they relate to doing research on the era of the American Revolution, 1763 to 1790. It is unfortunate that these research re­sources...
read more

The African-American Clan

Recent publications and media presentations have spurred an unusual interest in genealogical research. This enthusiasm extends from the academic community to large numbers of lay people who are attempting to retrace their roots. As is well known, genealogical research in its simplest form results in the ability to construct a blood-line tree that presents the kinship relationships between people...
read more

Homeward Bound: An Interview with David McCullough

David McCullough is a familiar name – and face. Known to millions as the author of bestselling books, including The Great Bridge, The Path Between the Seas, Truman, Mornings on Horseback, and Brave Companions, and as host of the popular PBS television series “Smithsonian World” and “The American Experience,” he is noted for his remarkable gift of writing richly...
read more

Bookshelf

Thomas Eakins edited by John Wilmerding Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994 (212 pages, cloth, $49.95) “Frank,” “brutal,” “raw,” “uncompro­mising,” “diabolically realistic,” and “manly” were terms once used to describe the work of Philadelphian Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), one of the greatest American painters of the...
read more

Executive Director’s Message

No single document illuminates more dramatically the founding of our state than the Charter granted by King Charles II to William Penn. Even in its deteriorated condition, it retains the essential beauty of its design, and radiates a sense of moral and political authority. The four-page original copy held by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) is, remarkably, the copy Penn...
read more

The Pennsylvania Archives Turns 100! An Interview with State Archivist Frank M. Suran

2003 marks the centennial of the Pennsylvania State Archives, the oldest component of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), the Commonwealth’s official history agency, and State Archivist Frank M. Suran knows its history bet­ter than anyone else. An archivist’s responsibilities include a multitude of tasks. Suran discusses his beginnings at the State Archives,...
read more