Letters to the Editor

Letters presents readers' comments and reactions to specific articles in Pennsylvania Heritage, the initiatives of PHMC, and other developments in the historical, cultural and museum communities of Pennsylvania.


Although the author dis­cussed the role of blacks in avi­ation in the 1920s and 1930s, I was a little disappointed in not seeing any photographs of the first black pilots (see “Aeronauts to Aviators: Pennsylvanians and Flight, 1784-1950,” in the spring 1984 issue).

Curtis Johnson
Philadelphia, Pa.

Efforts were made to locate photographs of the first Pennsyl­vania black pilots and although some undoubtedly do exist, we were unable to locate any in the time spent on the photo searches. if such photos are available and can be brought to our atten­tion, we would be happy to print them.

The painting of the lift-off of Jean Pierre Blanchard’s bal­loon in Philadelphia is beauti­ful, but the caption didn’t include mention of the painter. Who was the artist?

Dr. Saul Weinberg
Mt. Lebanon, Pa.

The artist is unknown, but re­searchers at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., believe the painting was ex­ecuted shortly after the first flight in 1793. The painting was re­cently restored and is once again on view in the museum’s ex­hibit entitled “Balloons and Air­ships.”



Research on the Harmonist tex­tiles was excellently pre­sented (see “Unlikely Capitalists: Harmonists as Textile Manufacturers,” in the spring 1984 issue), but I am now inter­ested in the Harmony Society’s other investments in indus­try. I noted in the “Currents” column that the Society was a financier of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. How extensive were the Society’s holdings and are there any reference works avail­able to document its involve­ment in commerce?

Nick Mastriani
Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Although the Society’s com­munal experiments were hailed as noble by many critics, several scholars have characterized the order as “a little empire.” The Har­mony Society’s holdings included income-producing mortgages and a host of stocks and bonds in bridge, lumber, coal, iron, steel, glass and oil companies. The Society also invested heavily in banks and savings institutions. See The Harmonists: A Per­sonal History by John S. Duss (Harrisburg: Telegraph Press, 1943) for a firsthand account of the financial triumphs and failures of the Harmony Society. Also see the recently published Guide to Microfilmed Harmony Soci­ety Records, 1786-1951 edited by Roland M. Baumann (Harris­burg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1983).



As an avid cook, I found the article on seventeenth cen­tury cooking delectable! Thank you for printing it. My only suggestion would have been to include the old or original recipes with modern measur­ing equivalents and ingre­dients. I know space for articles must be very tight, but I think others who share an inter­est in cooking would like to know how to make some of the dishes mentioned by the writer – particularly Mrs. Penn’s Naples biscuits and sweet­meats for the holidays.

Betsy L. Roth
Greensburg, Pa.


Etcetera …

I can criticize your ‘new’ magazine in many ways, but I honestly think your new “popularly styled” look (what­ever that is) is a major step in the wrong direction. I en­joyed the earlier anecdotes and stories of Pennsylvania towns and people as they were in a previous era, and I think that is what Pennsyl­vania history is all about. It is not about how our fore­fathers cooked dinner in the colonies, and it is not con­cerned with the incidental role of Pennsylvania in the origin of airline mail service. Do you want a magazine of Penn­sylvania history, or a general historical publication with occasional references as to how Pennsylvania played a role in any given topic. I am a Pennsylvanian but I have lost some enthusiasm for Penn­sylvania history as you present it. For the sake of your maga­zine, I sincerely hope I am in the minority of your readers.

Joseph F. Gregory
Vienna, Va.

We appreciate your candid re­marks, but we do believe you are in the minority based upon the other reactions we have received. Articles on towns and people which you so enjoyed in the past will continue, for they are cer­tainly part of Pennsylvania’s heri­tage, just as are colonial cooking and the Commonwealth’s place in aviation history.