To Form a More Perfect Union: Violet Oakley’s Murals in the Pennsylvania Senate Chamber

At breakfast tables on Sunday morning, December 3, 1911, readers of The New York Times were confronted with a surprising headline running across the magazine section: “A WOMAN CHOSEN TO COMPLETE THE ABBEY PAINTINGS.” Four months earlier, the news that the American artist Edwin Austin Abbey (1852–1911) had passed away in London raised speculation about who would receive the remainder of his...
read more

Recruitment, Conservation and Liberty Bonds: Posters and the War to End All Wars

The Pennsylvania State Archives holds a large and significant collection of World War I posters – 460 in all – that were hung throughout the Keystone State and around the country during the Great War. Many of these posters were produced on a national scale, although some were created specifically in Pennsylvania. The posters provide a fascinating glimpse at the means by which valued...
read more

Keystone Flagship: USS Pennsylvania Leading the Navy through Two World Wars

“Air raid on Pearl Harbor. This is not drill.” The message went out from the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Its brevity belied the gravity of the event it reported. The White House released the information shortly before 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, and many people learned the news throughout the afternoon as radio programs were...
read more

A Pitcher, A President and a Home Movie

In November 2013 the Pennsylvania State Archives was contacted by Mrs. Judith Savastio regarding a home movie that her father filmed. She had questions about preserving the film and was interested in finding a repository for its permanent care. Mrs. Savastio’s father, Major League Baseball pitcher James “Jimmie” DeShong (1909-1993), shot the film on his new 8mm home movie...
read more

Pennsylvania’s Musical Publishers: Fueling a Nation’s Fervor

A dynamic America was frenetically modernizing and vigorously expand­ing during the historic decades before and following the open­ing of the twentieth century. While the West, or open land, was essentially closed with the 1889 admission of four new states, and two more the fol­lowing year, the country gen­erated a diverse output of agricultural and basic indus­trial goods. National produc­tion...
read more

To Organize the Unorganized

The year 1919 was marked by an explosion of activity in the American labor movement. Discontent surged among industrial workers as promises of wage increases and improved working conditions, made by employers during World War One, failed to materialize. Telegraph operators, theater ushers and textile workers joined firemen, policemen and dock workers to oppose some of the country’s most...
read more

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...
read more

The Lady and the Titan

Before the creation of the Pulitzer Prize, long before Woodward and Bernstein, there was Pennsylvania’s own Ida M. Tarbell (1857-1944). Best known as the muckraking journalist who single-handedly took on the mighty John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), she was among the most feared and admired women of her time. Writing during the Progressive Era, an age of hope and reform running roughly from...
read more

The Pittsburgh Agreement

The largest concentration of Slovakians living outside of their – homeland in 1918 was in western Pennsylvania. In addition to opportunities offered by the booming city of Pittsburgh, Slovaks, as well as Czechs, wanted their native country to be rid of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that had taken over their lands by the seventeenth century. World War I and the defeat of the empire created an...
read more

Out and About

Presidential China Selections from an extraordinary gift to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Robert L. McNeil Jr. Collection of American Presidential China, are on view in an ongoing exhibit at the museum. The collection of more than four hundred and fifty pieces designed for, and used by, presidents from George Washington to Ronald Reagan provides a material record of the history of the...
read more