Fondly, Pennsylvania is a joint blog of HSP's archives, conservation, and digitization departments. Here you will find posts on our latest projects and newest discoveries, as well as how we care for, describe, and preserve our collections. Whether you are doing research or just curious to know more about the behind-the-scenes work that goes on at HSP, please read, explore, and join the conversation!
As the nation reflects on the meaning of freedom and liberty this Fourth of July weekend, consider an unsung heroine of women's independence: the bicycle.
Taking a broad definition of race and bicycle, Philadelphia women participated in one of the earliest competitions in North America featuring a two-wheeled, human-powered machine.
In 1819, artist Charles Willson Peale witnessed his daughters Sybilla and Elizabeth informally racing "downhill like the very devil" on his velocipede, an iron juggernaut and the first two-wheeler in the city.
Behind no less than five sets of locks – both electronic and analog, including a 19th century bank vault door – rest some of the most treasured items in HSP’s collection of over 21 million manuscripts, graphics, and books. Until now.
This month marked the opening of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s new popup beer garden, the Viaduct Rail Park, at 10th and Hamilton. While the popularity — and legality — of these gardens may find their origin in the 21st century, the viaduct itself is more than 100 years old.
Built in the 1890s by the then-named Pennsylvania and Reading Railroad, the mile-long Reading Viaduct is a combination of embankment sections and arched masonry bridges stretching from Vine Street to Fairmount Avenue.
Philadelphia's 10,000-acre Fairmount Park system is one of the largest such municipal spaces in the world. Yet the park's origins do not belong to any botanical benevolence.
Unlike Central Park - a deliberate attempt to preserve New York's dwindling green spaces amid urbanization - Fairmount began as a solution to a practical problem: providing Philadelphians with clean water.
With the recent opening of Moore College of Art & Design's juried alumni exhibition, consider the story of the first visual arts college for women in the United States: Moore's antecessor, the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (PSDW).
Founded in 1848, PSDW was the first of several such institutions to appear in Boston, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati.
However, art for art's sake was not the goal of philanthropist and PSDW founder Sarah Worthington Peter.
On this year's Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the abolition of slavery in the United States, consider one of the nation's first cases involving the violation of its incipient slave-trade laws: the "Ganges Incident."
The USS Ganges, originally built for trade in the West Indies, was purchased in 1798 by the federal government to deter French privateers from ransacking U.S. shipping. It left Philadelphia's port that year, the first warship to sail under the American flag since the Continental Navy's last ship, the Alliance, was decommissioned in 1785.
The following article is being posted on behalf of Tim Dewysockie, former intern of the archives department. Our thanks go out to him for the work that he completed on this important historical collection. --CH
Speaking from across the Delaware River in Camden, Walt Whitman described baseball as “America’s game,” with “the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere.” As the 2016 season gets underway, consider Shibe Park, onetime home to Philadelphia’s Athletics and Phillies, demolished 40 years ago this year.
Named after Athletics majority owner Ben Shibe, the stadium was bounded by what are now West Lehigh Avenue and North 20th, West Somerset, and North 21st Streets.
Women account for more than a third of physicians in the United States. This was not always the diagnosis. Consider the story of one of the first American female doctors: Bucks County resident Susan Parry.
Before the Civil War, the quality of medical education and practice varied across the country. Sham schools opened on the Western frontier and awarded degrees as quickly as they could be printed, while a handful of cities – including Philadelphia – boasted long traditions of rigor and innovation. Most medical schools shared the same admission standard, however: men only.