Editor's Letter is an introduction to the contents and themes of each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage by the editor.

This edition of Pennsylvania Heritage was produced mostly through teleworking, as all of us in the Keystone State — and the world — have been in the midst of what already has become one of the most momentous episodes in contemporary history. In the devasting weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, every realm of human existence has been profoundly affected. As we continue through the crisis, history has yet to tell of its long-standing impact.

In this issue, we mark the anniversaries of two historic moments that have been called the most significant events of the previous century: World War II and women’s suffrage. Attesting to this is a Gallup poll taken in late 1999 that asked a random sample of Americans to rate the most important events of the 20th century. On a list that was compiled from the survey, World War II ranked first and “women gaining the right to vote in 1920” was second.

For the past four years, PHMC has been commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Keystone State’s role in World War II as part of its Pennsylvania at War initiative, which also marked the centennial of World War I in 2017–18. We now approach the anniversary of the conclusion of the second conflict, which officially ended on September 2, 1945, with the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender. This issue includes two features related to Pennsylvania’s involvement in the war.

The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), the largest railroad in the U.S. at the time of World War II, played a key role in transporting troops, materiel, resources and rations across its important East Coast–Midwest corridors. In “Marketing Patriotism,” railroad historian Dan Cupper provides a look at the railroad’s advertising campaign during the war, focusing on the full-color display ads that PRR ran in national magazines. He explains how the railroad, through ad copy and images by leading commercial artists of the day, with themes ranging from military might to women in the workplace, utilized the era’s venerated symbols and ideals not only to inspire patriotism and reassure the nation it was on the job but also to stave off government nationalization of the company.

From the Susquehanna to the Rhine” recounts the military career of Daniel Strickler of Columbia, Lancaster County. Robert D. Hill, history curator at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, follows Strickler from recruitment in the National Guard during his senior year in high school through combat as a young officer with a machine-gun battalion of the 28th Division on the Western Front in World War I. The piece culminates with Strickler’s distinguished service in the Hürtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, leading to a hero’s return and later political and military advancement.

On August 18, 2020, we celebrate the centennial of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an act that enfranchised 26 million women across the nation. Since the 100th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s ratification of the amendment on June 24, 2019, we have been featuring articles on women’s accomplishments in the commonwealth and the movement that led to suffrage. In the Fall 2019 issue, Curtis Miner, senior history curator at The State Museum, wrote about the 1915 Votes for Women campaign in “Ringing Out for Women’s Suffrage.” Here, he continues at the other side of the timeline with “After Suffrage,” presenting the little-known story of the Keystone Eight, the octad of women elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1922. The article reflects the challenges these pioneering assemblywomen faced in public office, working in the smoke-filled halls of the male-dominated legislature, determining how to vote on Prohibition enforcement bills favored by the pro-woman governor Gifford Pinchot, and balancing the interests of their constituencies and a new coalition of women voters.

While working on this edition, we also have been putting the finishing touches on another special project: the Pennsylvania Heritage website (paheritagemagazine.com), an online archive of issues published since the magazine was launched in December 1974. We make this library of articles available to the public as part of PHMC’s ongoing initiative to bring greater access to its collections. I hope you will visit the website often and journey back through 46 years of compelling, diverse stories on “everything Pennsylvania.

Kyle R. Weaver
Editor