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

The beginning of a new year entices us to look back upon the previous year and contemplate our progress, taking into account both successes and failures. But 2014 is even more significant for Pennsylvania Heritage and its loyal readers.

With this edition we mark the magazine’s 40th anniversary. That’s 157 editions filled with, as we like to say, “everything Pennsylvania.” Over the course of those four decades we explored the men and women, places and events that give the Keystone State an undeniable cachet enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. We showcased the good and examined the not-so-good. We tackled controversial subjects, including the Ku Klux Klan and, in this issue, a 19th-century woman who was hailed and reviled as sexual revolutionary, visionary and erotic mystic. In exclusive interviews David McCullough, Fred “Mister” Rogers, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Dick Clark, Michael Novak, James A. Michener and others who made or shaped history shared their thoughts about their associations with the Keystone State.

Our landmark anniversary is somewhat bittersweet. Many similar publications – and some more venerable than Pennsylvania Heritage – were unable to survive the economic downturn of the past half-dozen years, suffering budget cuts and loss of staffing that ultimately caused their demise. We are indebted to the members of the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation for supporting the magazine as well as the work of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

In “Free-Thinking, 19th-Century Style,” Wayne L. Trotta profiles irrepressible native Philadelphian Ida C. Craddock who “contended sex and spirituality were linked as if sexual passion was the physical equivalent of mystical experience.” Her theories, radical for her time, drew the attention of Anthony Comstock, a self-anointed arbiter of morality who relentlessly pursued her for sending “obscene” materials through the mail. Exasperated by his censorship and threatened with lengthy imprisonment, Craddock committed suicide at the age of 45 in 1902.

Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker was a veteran of the American Civil War, conservationist, attorney, judge, governor of Pennsylvania from 1903 to 1907 (during which he signed legislation creating the State Museum), author, lecturer, historian, collector and essayist. Much has been written about his political career, but Iren Light Snavely Jr. discusses his role as “Historian of Pennsylvania Exceptionalism,” beginning on page 14. Much like me, I expect readers will be surprised by the depth of his knowledge of early Pennsylvania history, particularly in the greater Philadelphia region. Since little had been published on several aspects of this history, Pennypacker purchased as many early books as humanly possible that he used as resources.

From Wilkes-Barre to the Wild West: Pennsylvania’s Indian Painter” by David McCormick introduces the Luzerne County native who abandoned the practice of law to devote himself to his life’s work: graphically chronicling American Indians and their way of life beginning early in the 19th century. Correctly fearful that the culture of the Native Americans was being systematically eradicated by the federal government’s policies, Catlin made several trips westward rendering portraits as well as narrative paintings depicting his subjects’ rituals, dances, ceremonies and hunting parties. Thanks to Catlin, we possess a pictorial record of what life was like for the early inhabitants of the West.

I do hope you enjoy our offerings in this issue.

With all good wishes for a healthy and happy New Year.

Michael J. O’Malley III