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With the one hundred and fifty year anniversary of the Civil War upon us, and the anniversary of World War I approaching, teachers across the nation will be educating their students about the triumphs and sacrifices of war. As any good educator knows, it is always important to teach multiple aspects of history, not just the contents of a textbook. This unit plan does just that.


While the term “historical society” may not conjure up mental images of people have a rip-roarin’ good time, as a teacher, I find that historical societies are invaluable sources of information and inspiration. Philadelphia boasts a surprising number of them.  Even if you don’t become a member, sign up for the emails and attend an event this summer or take your students on an educational tour this fall. You won’t regret it!

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Last month, I started working as the Beneficial National History Day fellow.


Work began recently on the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s new Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR). Commonly referred to around HSP as the “small repositories project,” its goal is to make better known and more accessible the important but often hidden archival collections held by the many small, primarily volunteer-run historical organizations in the Philadelphia area, including local historical societies, museums, historic sites, and other institutions.

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This appeared in the August HSP email publication, History Hits: Collecting & sharing the stories of Pennsylvania.
As most people realize, the execution of the famous abolitionist, John Brown, on December 2nd, 1859, by the state of Virginia for 'treason, and for conspiring and advising with slaves and other rebels, and murder in the first degree," prompted a wave of anti-Southern feeling within the Northern states, where he was perceived as a 'martyr for freedom,' although some Northernors believed Brown to have been quite insane at the time.
This appeared in July's HSP email publication, History Hits: Collecting & sharing the stories of Pennsylvania.
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Between 1850 and 1880, an often under utilized historical resource was kept by the Federal government, a 'record group' commonly referred to simply as, the 'Mortality Schedules' or the Non-Population Census Schedules: 1850-1880, composed for all the states within the Union. It is particularly a great supplement for family 'vital records' research, a valuable compilation available not only at the various 'Regional Libraries of the National Archives,' but also at such popular genealogical web sites as, wh
Years ago, the prolific writer of Western fiction, the late Louis L'Amour, remarked how he was often asked where he obtained ideas for his numerous publications. He replied they "are out there by the thousands, wonderful stories...Many have never gotten into the histories...but one has only to listen, to look, and to live with awareness...Ours is a rich and wonderful world, and there are stories everywhere. Nobody should ever try to second-guess history, the facts are fantastic enough." (Education of a Wandering Man, NY: Bantam Books, 1989: pp's.29, 141).
 ***This article appeared in the May 2011, HSP monthly email publication, "History Hits: Collecting & sharing the stories of Pennsylvania." For a free subscription, simply click here