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!
The following article was written by HSP volunteer Randi Kamine and is being posted on her behalf. Many thanks to Archival Processor Megan Evans for helping prepare these articles for publication.
One of the interesting things about processing a collection at HSP is that one never knows when a significant document might unexpectedly show up. For instance, four letters in Benjamin Franklin’s hand were brought to light when a finding aid was recently written for the Read family letters (Collection 0537). All four were written to John Ross, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer and frequent correspondent of Franklin’s. Ross was half-sister to Gertrude Ross Read, the wife of George Read of this collection who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Ross and Franklin had a political relationship as well as a friendship. Both were active in the politics of the time, especially in the rivalry between the Quaker and Proprietary parties that were fighting for control of the Pennsylvania assembly. Both Ross and Franklin were in support of the Quaker party and in opposition to the Proprietary party.
Thick skin may seem to be a requisite for elected officials. At the turn of the 20th century, however, Pennsylvania Gov. Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker found himself nearly crushed by a cartoon.
Born in Phoenixville to Old Philadelphia stock, Pennypacker (1843-1916) taught himself several languages and served as a judge before entering into–and winning–the governor's office in 1903. there
In an era before Instagram fashionistas, where did trendy Americans turn for news on emerging styles? For nearly 50 years in the 19th century, one publication trended above the rest: Godey's Lady's Book.
If virtuous art in government buildings guaranteed good governance, Pennsylvania's state Capitol would produce only first-rate politicians, heroically adorned as it is with the murals of pioneering American artist Violet Oakley.
Oakley (1874-1961) spent her childhood in Bergen Heights, N.J., and Philadelphia filling voluminous sketchbooks. In an unfinished autobiography, Oakley revealed that if she did not have a pencil and paper, she sketched on the roof of her mouth with her tongue.
In my previous blog post, I introduced the watermarks of several English papermakers and their forgers. In this post, I would like to share some of the watermarks of the pioneers of American paper manufacturing found in ledgers from the Bank of North America collection.
"In God we trust."
The obverse of every modern U.S. coin is stamped with this, America's national motto. Many hold this as an affirmation of a Christian origin of the American republic, while others argue - often in court - that freedom of religion may also be construed as freedom from religion. As debate kicks up concerning which faces and phrases adorn U.S. fiat currency, consider a brief history of the minted maxim:
Dear fans and followers, this is it! We've reached the final set of transcriptions from the George F. Parry Civil War diaries (George F. Parry family volumes, Collection 3694). A huge thank you goes out to everyone who took a few moments to check out Parry's life through these transcriptions. Hopefully they were as interesting to read as they were to write!
As families gather for the holidays, consider the marital dedication espoused by an unlikely couple: George Armstrong Custer and his wife, Elizabeth "Libbie" Custer.
In the portrait of popular memory, the flamboyant "Boy General" is often synonymous with hubris and disaster. In his lifetime, however, Custer's name was garlanded with gallantry. It was to the long-haired blond Custer that a grateful Gen. Philip Sheridan gifted the table at which Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox - an event Custer observed firsthand.
As the rows of local theaters fill for holiday productions of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Story, consider Philadelphia's dramatic relationship with the stage through the story of Frank McGlinn, the "grand old man of the theater."