Looking Back at 2018

This past year marked the centennials of the end of World War I and the start of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Of special significance to Pennsylvania was the 300th anniversary of the death of founder William Penn. What follows is a brief glimpse of 2018 on the Pennsylvania Trails of History, a few highlights among many.   William Penn’s Legacy To commemorate the 300th anniversary of...
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Executive Director’s Message

“How tall is the statue?” It’s a question visitors repeatedly ask guides and guards as they enter The State Museum of Pennsylvania’s Memorial Hall and encounter Janet de Coux’s towering bronze casting of a young William Penn (1644-1718) clasping a diminutive figure in his left hand. Museum staffers explain that the statue stands nearly eighteen feet high and weighs...
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Executive Director’s Message

“Do not think of the Pennsylvania Railroad as a business enterprise. Think of it as a nation.” Even if we allow for such a hyperbole – in this case by a writer in the May 1936 edition of Fortune Magazine – it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) – or “the Pennsy” as it was seemingly known to all – dominated...
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History and Community: Pennsylvania’s First Lady Makes The Connection, An Interview with Michele M. Ridge

When flood waters threatened the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg in January 1996, Michele M. Ridge quickly transformed herself from First Lady to First Curator of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Within hours, she assembled a team of National Guardsmen, weekend staff at the resi­dence, and specialists of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to move endangered works of art,...
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Sparking a Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution: An Interview with Dick Clark

For many baby boomers – members of that much-touted generation who came of age in the fifties and sixties – rock ‘n’ roll provided a defining point in their adolescent lives. Few will ever forget the first time they jitterbugged to Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets, or took to the dance floor with The Twist by Chubby Checker. Many cherish the memory of...
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Erie Maritime Museum: A New Museum Opens a Window to History

Nearly two centuries ago, a newly built squadron of United States Navy warships set sail from the shores of Lake Erie to battle a contingent of the British Navy, the most formidable naval force in the world. The ensuing battle of the War of 1812 shocked the British admiralty and boosted the morale of the U.S. Navy and the entire nation. The legacy of this battle is graphically chronicled by the...
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Pennsylvanians-at-Arms: The Pennsylvania Military Museum

From provincial militia units that predate the American Revolution to this very day, Pennsylvanians have mustered their courage and taken up arms to defend their homes, defeat tyranny abroad, and champion the freedom of people at home and throughout the world. By accepting their call to duty, Pennsylvania’s brave citizen-soldiers have built a proud military tradition that, ironically, grew...
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Shorts

To observe February 2000 as Black History Month, the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a special driving tour which includes the John­son House in Germantown, a station along the Underground Railroad, and Camp William Penn, the nation’s first recruiting and training camp for black soldiers, where eleven thousand troops were trained. The country’s first...
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Shorts

An intensive eight-day study tour examining the England of Pennsylvania founder William Penn (1644-1718) will be conducted under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Heritage Society in Octo­ber 2000. Participants, led by historian Larry E. Tise, will visit the Church of Ail Hallows Barking, where Penn was bap­tized and where, in 1999, Governor Tom Ridge and PHMC Chairman Janet S. Klein presented a...
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Governor Tom Ridge’s Letter of Resignation

The peaceful, orderly transfer of political power is a hallmark of a mature democracy, occurring every year at various levels of government. In nearly every instance, it has become uneventful and routine; however, several transfers of power in the history of the Keystone State have been prompted by unusual circumstances. Since the creation of the office of governor, as required by Article II,...
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