Karl Mason (1915-1966)

If asked to describe his life’s work, those who remember Karl Mason would most likely exclaim, “He wanted to clean up the world!” If pressed to date the beginning of environmental regulation by a single state agency, many Penn­sylvanians would probably choose 1970, the year the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources – predecessor to the Commonwealth’s...
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Out and About

Michener Centennial On Saturday, February 3, James A. Michener (1907–1997), America’s beloved writer and one of Pennsylvania’s most famous sons, would have celebrated his one hundredth birthday. Although he wrote that he did not know who his parents were or exactly when and where he was born, he was raised a Quaker by an adoptive mother, Mabel Michener, in Doylestown, Bucks County. He graduated...
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Frank Rizzo: Philadelphia’s Tough Cop Turned Mayor

On Saturday night, August 29, 1970, unknown assailants shot to death Philadelphia police sergeant Frank Von Colln while stationed in a small guardhouse in the Cobbs Creek section of the city’s expansive Fairmount Park. No one witnessed the killing, but police suspected that it was the work of the Black Panther Party, an African American revolutionary organization that endorsed violence as a...
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From the Editor

With this edition we conclude the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s annual theme for 2012, “The Land of Penn and Plenty: Bringing History to the Table.” Our observance allowed us to explore the Commonwealth’s traditional and regional foodways, highlight recipes from historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History, and even showcase snack...
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A Flag Bears Witness – Don’t Give Up The Ship

A mere five words stitched on a flag in 1813 in a tiny frontier village produced one of the most enduring symbols in United States history. Two hundred years later those few words – Don’t Give Up The Ship – have become a stirring, unofficial motto of the U.S. Navy; a rallying cry; and a flag flown from masts of sailboats, yachts, tall ships, and more. The details of the War of...
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Celebrating Volunteers on the Pennsylvania Trails of History

Every spring we honor those who contribute their experience and expertise to support the mission and work of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). In 2011–2012 volunteers donated approximately 117,000 hours at historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History®. This impressive collective donation is valued at nearly $2.5 million, based on data provided by...
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Pennsylvania Heritage Recommends

The Civil War in Pennsylvania: A Photographic History Written by a trio of savvy and inveterate collectors of photographs, artifacts, objects, and ephemera documenting the American Civil War and its associations with the Keystone State and its soldiers and citizens, The Civil War in Pennsylvania: A Photographic History (Senator John Heinz History Center for Pennsylvania Civil War 150, 2012,...
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Safe Harbor Iron Works Map, 1875

This section of an 1875 map contained in the Map Collection (Manuscript Group 11, Second Geological Survey, Map # 180–40) at the Pennsylvania State Archives depicts the site of the Safe Harbor Iron Works in Conestoga Township, Lancaster County, where the three-inch Ordnance Rifle designed by John Griffen (but commonly called a Griffin Gun) was first manufactured and tested in 1855. This wrought...
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“Atoms for Peace” in Pennsylvania

In 1957, Shippingport, along the Ohio River in far western Pennsylvania, became home to America’s first commercial nuclear power plant under President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” program. Just two decades later, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) converted the Beaver County plant to a light water breeder reactor that successfully demonstrated the feasibility...
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Photograph at Shippingport Atomic Power Station

A photograph labeled “Installation of the Final Closure Head,” taken at the Shippingport Atomic Power Station, Beaver County, on October 10, 1957, is part of an important new accession documenting the construction and evolution of the world’s first full-scale atomic power plant devoted exclusively to peacetime use received by the Pennsylvania State Archives (PSA) on April 14, 2009. The facility...
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