Vincent Fraley

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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 Halloween approaches and the eerie and ethereal take center stage, consider a piece of Philadelphia's phantasmagoric past: the First Association of Spiritualists (FAS).


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:


In 2015, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) launched HSP Encounters, a new digital resource comprised of an ever-growing number of genealogical and biographical databases.


Add the highway to Pennsylvania's contributions to American history. The Pennsylvania Turnpike, America's first four-lane limited-access highway, celebrates its 75th anniversary this week.

The push for intercity roads in Pennsylvania is as old as the commonwealth itself.


Before Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the Parkway on Sunday, guests may want to consider visiting some Philadelphia churches that acted as both spiritual and social lodestars for their communities.