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The 1763 Conestoga Massacre was the brutal murder of 21 Susquehannock men, women, and children by a vigilante group of Scotch-Irish frontiersmen from central Pennsylvania (known as the Paxton Boys).

These frontiersmen and their families had settled on American Indian lands in violation of established agreements between the Quakers and various tribes. Several tribes raided frontier settlements in response to this encroachment and, in retaliation, the Paxton Boys attacked the Susquehannock, who they claimed had passed “secrets” to hostile groups.

For many Americans – young and old – the Second World War occupies a privileged place in popular memory: It was “The Good War” fought by “The Greatest Generation” armed with “The Arsenal of Democracy.”

Debates about immigration and citizenship have played a major role in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. This document display highlights some of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s collections on immigrant cultures, communities, reception, and acculturation from the 1700s to the present day.

1865 was a pivotal year in American history. With the end of the Civil War, Lincoln’s assassination, and the beginning of Reconstruction, politics were forever changed. Lives were changed too.

Among the many treasures of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania are two handwritten drafts and four printed documents that trace the genesis of the new form of government proposed by the Constitutional Convention.

Family photographs can be difficult to date, especially the farther back in time you go. Unless an ancestor diligently dated and identified sitters it can be hard to figure out who is the subject of a photograph.

Using early photographs selected from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s large collection of cased photographs, along with the aid of primary research on ladies’ fashions from Godey’s Lady’s Books, this exhibit illustrates key examples of mid- to late-nineteenth century fashions used to date our photographs

This exhibit, originally mounted at the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in 2001, explores many aspects of the experiences of the new African immigrants living in our midst. The exhibit was the result of 2 years of fieldwork in the African communities of greater Philadelphia.  Anthropologist Leigh Swigart collected oral histories from community members, and Vera Viditz-Ward documented community activities through hundreds of photographs. The materials here represent a sample of some of the wonderful stories told in that show.

A politician and liberal reformer, Richardson Dilworth served as mayor of Philadelphia from 1956-1962.  His vision for the city shaped much of what we recognize about Philadelphia today: Independence Mall, Society Hill, SEPTA, and the public park system.  This exhibit explores and celebrates his life, his service, and his legacy to Philadelphia.  

February, 2010, marks the 250th birthday of Bishop Richard Allen, a revered figure in African American history and one of the nation’s leading abolitionists. Allen's life story is nothing short of extraordinary. Enslaved at birth, he eventually bought his freedom and became one of the most important African American leaders of his day. 

It was only 100 years ago that the Society found a permanent home at 13th and Locust Streets. In its first 60 years, the Society was nomadic, moving from one rented space to the next, always in search of a permanent home. Through these wanderings the Society’s collection and prominence continued to grow, and today it is one of the finest research libraries in the country.

The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies presents this exhibit on "The Japanese American Experience" with a mixture of pride and shame. Shame at what our government did to Japanese Americans during World War II. Pride at how these people, in spite of all the injustices inflicted upon them, overcame their difficulties and eventually became one of America's most successful ethnic groups.