Many Philadelphia boosters proudly boast of its reputation as a rough-and-tumble city. Soften those edges with a look at its history of silk production.
The culture of silkworms (Bombyx mori) began in China nearly five millennia ago with the discovery that caterpillars' cocoons could be unwound to lustrous effect. Its roots in the New World were established with the first permanent English settlement, Jamestown.
William Berkeley, a colonial governor in 1671, counted the lack of newspapers among the New World's few charms: "I thank God, there are no free schools nor printing. . . . God keep us from both." Philadelphia proved more welcoming to the printed word.
Once the Democratic Party nominates its candidate for Philadelphia’s mayoralty, many claim what follows is more of a coronation than a campaign. Dash off that jadedness with a look at a political upset not since repeated in the city: the election of an Independent mayor, Rudolph Blankenburg.
As students across the city ponder "Exploration, Encounter & Exchange in History," the theme of this year's National History Day, consider a lesser-known hometown explorer: Henry Grier Bryant.
Born in Allegheny to a lumber-baron father, Bryant (1859-1932) prepped at Phillips Exeter before earning his bachelor's and master's degrees at Princeton. A brief stint in Europe away from his desk at the Edison Electric Light Co. convinced the young man of his office-free wanderlust.
In 1972, gay men and women were considered sick. This was not only the opinion of many Americans, but the official viewpoint of the American Psychiatric Association, which deemed homosexuality a mental illness.
On May 2, 1972, a speaker at the APA's 125th annual meeting challenged that thinking. Styling himself "Dr. Anonymous," the man wore a Richard Nixon mask and used a device to disguise his voice. He said, in part: