Alicia Parks

Historical Society of PA

Alicia began as an Education Intern in January 2014. She received a Bachelor of Science in Education from UNC Greensboro in 2011 and recently completed a Master of Arts in History from Villanova University. She aims to create interdisciplinary lesson plans which allow teachers to incorporate history into their daily curriculum.

This Author's Posts

What was life like for a twenty-something free black woman living in Philadelphia during the Civil War? If you are interested to know, please check out our latest unit plan, Emilie Davis’s Civil War: 1863-1865.


What is appropriate for children to see when teaching slavery and abolition?  This week Scholastic decided to pull the book “A Birthday Cake for Mr. Washington.” The book was the story of Washington’s chef, Hercules, and his daughter Delia, as they bake a cake for the President's birthday. Scholastic had been facing criticism because the story made slavery seem like a pleasant lifestyle where slaves were happy and left out the fact that the real Hercules eventually ran away from Washington’s home to gain his freedom.

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With the holiday season upon us, marketing ads directed toward children tend to dominate the airwaves. Directing propaganda at children, though, is nothing new, especially when looking at children’s literature from the 1800’s. In the years leading up to the Civil War, children’s books became a way to persuade young impressionable youth toward a particular, often political, point of view.


Just like the title of this blog is a play-on-words from a historic Broadway musical, the topic of this blog relates to something else historic, the printed map. Remember when you went on a road trip with your parents and one of them would pull out a large map from the glove compartment to figure out where you were headed?


This Thanksgiving, get into the giving spirit by providing your students with more holiday-themed cartoons. The cartoon attached to this post was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on November 26, 1908 shortly after President Taft was elected.


Continuing with a political theme due to our recent elections, the highlight this week is an anti-cartoonist law that was signed in 1903 by Pennsylvania Governor, and former President of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Samuel Pennypacker. The law stated that politicians could not be depicted in a non-human form. Naturally, many cartoonists got their revenge through several very un-flattering images of Governor Pennypacker; three are shown below.


While Halloween is known as the holiday where we can shamelessly stuff our faces with candy, it actually has some historic roots. The holiday did not become widespread until later in the 19th century, and it was mostly due to Irish and Scottish immigrants. In order to celebrate the holiday with some historic flair, I wanted to include a political cartoon from 1908 that specifically refers to “Hallowe’en.” In this cartoon William Jennings Bryan is accused on wearing a mask so voters cannot see his true political leanings.


This week I wanted to highlight a source on our digital library that I came across a couple weeks ago and recently used with a field trip here at HSP. It is a small pamphlet called Anti-Semitic Propaganda in America written in 1940 by Richard Gutstadt, director of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League.


This year we are gearing up for National History Day with a plethora of new sources and resources for both teachers and students, including our 5th annual FREE NHD Philly kick-off event for teachers.


The 2015 World Meeting of Families, hosted here in Philadelphia, provides a unique opportunity for teachers to discuss the role of Catholicism in our community and the history of religious toleration here in Pennsylvania. To help foster that classroom discussion, we made our latest issue of Pennsylvania Legacies exclusively devoted to Catholics in Pennsylvania.