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!
All human cultures believe in the supernatural to varying extents. In the Western world, ghost stories are as old as Pliny the Younger.
The statesman traditionally relied upon for his accurate portrayal of life in the Roman Empire also wrote about a nuisance vexing his Athenian abode: an apparition in the form of an old man, rattling chains and keeping poor Pliny awake at night.
American culture and its history is no exception, abounding with figures famous in both life and—according to many—death.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, HSP's Vincent Fraley will look at the impact of the event on Japanese, Italian, and German Americans living throughout the United States.
On Oct. 16 more than 170 years ago, Philadelphian Joseph Saxton did something extraordinary. With a cigar box, a burning glass lens, and a light-sensitive silver-coated metallic plate, Saxton peered out of an upper window at the U.S. Mint and captured an image of two partially blurred buildings. The result: the oldest extant photograph in the United States.
First-time visitors to special-collections libraries and archives across the city are often greeted by an unexpected sight: high school students flipping through manuscripts and other primary source documents.
Far from being the exclusive preserve of leather-elbowed academics, these cultural repositories are the point of departure for hundreds of Philadelphia students as they assemble their National History Day (NHD) projects.
This weekend marks the beginning of LGBT History Month, a celebration of the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. As festivities kick off across Philadelphia, consider the story of Drum, a radical monthly magazine that risked its readers’ lives and livelihoods.
Within living memory of many Philadelphians, gay men and women were openly discriminated against by their employers, the state, and the medical establishment.
On this day in 1780, Benedict Arnold met with British Major John Andre. HSP looks at Philadelphia's connections to the plot to turn West Point over to the Crown.
Like the Civil War, the American Revolution fractured families. The decision to support either Congress or Crown had filial — as well as political — repercussions.
Consider Philadelphia's Shippen family, which counted among its members a delegate to the Continental Congress and the War of Independence's most notorious caitiff: Benedict Arnold.
For my third and final blog post, I had originally planned to profile several individuals living in Philadelphia’s Chinatown at different points in its history. As I sifted through boxes of documents and folders of photos, however, I found this task nearly impossible.
Despite having gone through stacks of Christmas cards and business letters, newspaper clippings and various personal collections, I felt as if I barely understood these individuals better than those anonymous faces featured in black and white photographs published in period newspapers.
Every Sunday, my parents bring home a copy of The World Journal Weekly (Shi Jie Zhou Kan), the Sunday edition of a newspaper circulated in the Chinatowns of the United States documenting everything from world events and economic news to articles addressing issues pertinent to the Chinese American community. I remember that these pages of colorful newsprint would litter the house, and for the longest time, I paid little attention to them.
As many Philadelphians plan their Labor Day weekend trips down the Shore, consider the story of the John Wanamaker Commercial Institute, a school and New Jersey-based summer camp for its namesake's employees.
The postmaster general and retail magnate started the "store school" in 1897 for young workers in his department emporiums.
Ranging in age from 12 to early 20s, student-employees were provided with "daily opportunities to obtain a working education in the arts and sciences of commerce and trade," Wanamaker wrote in 1909.
Following independence from Great Britain, it became especially important for America to create ties to the rest of the world that had previously not been necessary under British rule. Demand for commodities like tea, porcelain, and silk meant that American merchants had to quickly find a way to establish trade routes with China directly. Along with New York and Boston, Philadelphia became a key city from which vessels like the one shown below departed for Canton (now Guangzhou).