Vincent Fraley

This Author's Posts

The Historial Society of Pennsylvania's Memory Stream, appearing each week in Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. 


This week marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth. The nationwide celebration dates back to June 19, 1865, with Union soldiers' announcement of emancipation in Texas - the last state in rebellion.

More than 150 years before this remarkable event, four Germantown Friends launched the first formal protest against human bondage in North America.


Philadelphia's first free library was not the Free Library of Philadelphia. Bookworms without means in the mid-19th century turned to the Philadelphia City Institute.

Founded in 1852, PCI originated from the Young Man's Institute, an organization striving to provide Philadelphia's youths with positive alternatives to the "perils to which they are exposed in a large city."


June 1 marks the beginning of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, celebrated since 1995 in commemoration of the June 1969 Stonewall riot in Manhattan - a turning point in the struggle for gay rights.


Celebrations of the hard work and sacrifice of emergency medical services personnel have marked this year's National EMS Week. For a historical perspective, consider another "first responder" of sorts, Edith Madeira - one of the first Red Cross nurses to treat the sick and starving of what was then known as Palestine during the World War I.


In 1961, US Supreme Court decisions that overturned racial segregation in interstate travel were largely ignored in the South. To challenge this status quo, more than 400 black and white Americans, called Freedom Riders, performed a simple act. They traveled into the segregated South in small interracial groups and sat where they pleased on interstate buses.

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To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, HSP has partnered with area institutions to host four film discussion events based on Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle. These documentaries feature riveting new footage illustrating the history of civil rights in America. Humanities scholars will provide context and provoke conversation about whether or not equality is ensured with the passage of new laws or amendments.  


Every year, millions of people around the world comb through books, scour newspapers, and thumb through manuscripts searching for information about their family’s history.

What starts small often becomes enormous. Many now-avid genealogists recall their humble beginnings – the discovery of a trunk full of photographs in the attic, or a question about a great grandparent’s country of origin.

For many, these humble questions blossom into a lifelong pursuit connecting them to a growing community around the world.

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