Teetering on the Brink of Rebellion?

Nineteenth century Harrisburg’s most rousing labor disorders erupted in July 1877 as part of the wave of spontaneous railway strikes sweeping the nation. The rioting that disrupted the quiet city overlooking the broad Susquehanna River was part of the country’s first wide­spread labor upheaval. The Great Railway Strikes, in turn, were a product of the Panic of 1873, then in its...
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Soft Coal’s Soft-Spoken Diplomat

Wearing a straw boater, he rode in the passenger seat of the Cadillac, and forlornly surveyed the pick­eting miners who blocked the lane leading into the village of St. Benedict in Cambria County. He sig­naled his manservant – serving now as bodyguard and chauffeur as well – to proceed through the human blockade. Angry strikers taunted them, shouting obscenities, as they drove up the...
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Massacre at Lattimer, An American Rite of Passage: An Interview with Michael Novak

Why do so many kids from Pennsylvania make great quarterbacks?” Michael Novak, writer, teacher, theologian, and social philosopher leaned forward as he posed the question and then offered an answer. “Because they’re hard realists. You’re down by fourteen points with seven minutes to play. So, what’s new? That’s the way life has always been in this part of the...
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Old Johnny’s Vision For An Industrial Society

Although Colonel John Frederick Hartranft (1830-1889) was only in his thirties during the Civil War, the rank and file of his 51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment fondly called him “Old Johnny.” His soldiers especially respected his ability to make the right decisions in combat and his altogether impartial and basically humane discipline. With a mind and eye trained as a civil...
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It’s a Family Affair – Six Generations of Martin Guitars

For legions of guitar players and admirers of finely crafted musical instruments, the small town of Nazareth in eastern Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley resembles its biblical namesake. It is the holiest ground, a Mecca, the wellhead of guitar dreams, aspirations and, yes, even obsessions. Nazareth is the home of C.F. Martin & Co., considered the world’s premier maker of steel-string...
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The UMWA Wins America’s Approval: John Mitchell and the Anthracite Strike of 1902

Labor leader John Mitchell’s reputation seemed to precede him no matter where he traveled during the summer of 1902. Coal miners throughout northeastern Pennsylvania’s anthracite region referred to the boyish-looking thirty-two-year-old president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) as their beloved “Johnny d’Mitch.” His photograph hung in their homes beside...
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Answering the Call of Honor: The Origins of the Pennsylvania State Police

CALL OF HONOR I AM A PENNSYLVANIA STATE TROOPER, A SOLIDER OF THE LAW. TO ME IS ENTRUSTED THE HONOR OF THE FORCE. I MUST SERVE HONESTLY, FAITHFULLY, AND IF NEED BE, LAY DOWN MY LIFE AS OTHERS HAVE DONE BEFORE ME, RATHER THAN SWERVE FROM THE PATH OF DUTY. IT IS MY DUTY TO OBEY THE LAW AND TO ENFORCE IT WITHOUT ANY CONSIDERATION OF CLASS, COLOR, CREED OR CONDITION. IT IS ALSO MY DUTY TO BE OF...
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Martin Ritt Takes on The Molly Maguires

Far from the glitter and glamour of Hollywood, in a remote mountain range of Pennsylvania, the film industry’s best and brightest gathered in the late 1960s to make a film that has been described as a dismal financial failure and, ironically, an extraordinary critical suc­cess. Before cameras whirred in and around the communities of Hazleton, Luzerne County, Jim Thorpe, Carbon County,...
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David L. Lawrence, the Deft Hand Behind Pittsburgh’s – and Pennsylvania’s – Politics

David Leo Lawrence (1889-1966), governor of Pennsylvania from 1959 to 1963, and mayor of Pittsburgh from 1946 to 1959, during the city’s first heralded renaissance, was a professional politician to the very core. Ranked as one of America’s great chief executives among big cities, Lawrence immersed himself in politics, beginning at the age of fourteen when he became a city Democratic...
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