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!
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.
Every type of American prime mover—the power to do work—has been harvested and used in Pennsylvania and, in the process of its use and management, has defined entire regions of the state. Exciting new scholarship is teaching us much about this important history while also pointing us to promising areas for future inquiry.
During the course of the Howard Lewis Project in our Archives department, the John Wanamaker collection  received some much-needed attention in order to make the collection more accessible and easier to use for our researchers. As one of our larger collections (approximately 190 feet of material) that documents a very prominent Philadelphia citizen and the store he founded, the collection sees a great deal of use in our research library. It was determined that one of the things we could do to make the collection easier to use would be to take a detailed inventory of all the volumes in the collection and number them consecutively. Previously, the volumes had been numbered rather confusingly and were further obscured by the fact that some were housed in boxes with other materials and not listed separately in the finding aid. All volumes were removed from the boxes (except where they were fragile and in need of extra support) and given labels with their new numbers and titles that accurately reflect their contents.
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.
Hello everyone! We are happy to present another post of transcriptions from the George F. Parry Civil War diaries (George F. Parry family volumes, Collection 3694). If you're just joining us, in 2012 HSP acquired the diaries of Bucks County resident and Civil War veterinary surgeon George F. Parry. In that collection are three diaries he kept during the Civil War dating from 1863 to 1865, when he served with the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
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: