Work Continues on The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

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Work Continues on The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia will host a series of roundtable discussions this spring—with topics ranging from women leaders to African American attorneys. The roundtables are designed to promote a greater understanding of the Philadelphia region’s recent history and help shape the content of The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia.

The Greater Philadelphia Roundtable has been supported in part by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ We the People initiative on American history.

Each roundtable will focus on a different aspect of Greater Philadelphia’s history, including LGBT Activism; Twentieth-Century Women; City Planning; and African American Lawyers. The discussions are free and open to the public. To register or for more information, visit  

These roundtable discussions are the next step forward in the creation of The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, a civic project to increase understanding of one of America’s greatest cities. From abolition and the American Revolution to yellow fever and zoos (with cheesesteaks, rowhouses, and hundreds of other topics in between), the Encyclopedia volume and its digital companion will offer the most comprehensive, authoritative reference source ever created for the Philadelphia region. Work on the Encyclopedia began last April, when members of historical and cultural organizations gathered at a workshop at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

The public is invited to attend the following roundtable discussions:

Striving for Equality: LGBT Activism in Greater Philadelphia

6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 18

At the William Way Community Center, 1315 Spruce St., Philadelphia

What are the challenges facing LGBT people in the fight for equality? The Greater Philadelphia region has a rich LGBT history. From the first organized LGBT demonstration in the country at Dewey’s Lunch Counter to the passage of the Philadelphia civil rights bill covering sexual orientation in 1982, the Philadelphia civil rights bill covering gender identity in 2002, the statewide Hate Crimes Bill of 2002, and more, recovering the stories of LGBT leaders and people from all communities informs the past and strengthens the future. This dialogue with scholars and community leaders will help shape the content of the Encyclopedia. Featuring Kevin Mumford, University of Iowa; Stephen Glassman, chairperson, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission; Michael P. Williams, City of Philadelphia Law Department; and Stacey Sobel, Western State University, former executive director of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania.  Facilitator:  Kathy Padilla. Co-sponsored by Attic Youth Center, Drexel Public Health LGBT Program, Equality Forum, Gender Rights Association of New Jersey, International Foundation for Gender Education, Mazzoni Center, New Jersey Stonewall, Philadelphia Gay News, Philly Gay Pride, Queer Times, and the following individuals: David Acosta, Chris Bartlett, Cei Bell, Thom Cardwell, Troy Cassel, Andrew Chirls, James Duggan, Marcus Iannozzi, Theodore Faigle, Lonnie Grant, Renee Gilinger, Harvey Hurdle, Carrie Jacobs, Malcolm Lazin,  Richard Liu, Stormy Lundy, Michael Marcsico, Perry Monastero, Ray Murphy, Thom Nickles, Ken Oakes, R. Duane Perry, Nurit Shein, Barbra Casbar Siperstein, Rita Urwitz,  Franny Price, Diego Sanchez, Mark Segal, and Tobias Barrington Wolff. 

Philadelphia-Area Women in the Twentieth Century: What Do We Know, and What Do We Need to Know?

6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 1

At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust St., Philadelphia

Since World War II, Philadelphia has been a leading area in creating and sustaining cutting-edge organizations that serve and advocate for women such as the Women’s Law Project and Women’s Way, a leader in philanthropy by women for women. Yet in the vast outpouring of history that has been written about Philadelphia, women’s experience, especially since World War II, has received very limited attention. In a region full of women’s studies scholars, what might be done to address this gap in the historical record? What do we know about Philadelphia-area women in the twentieth century, and what do we need to know? Join us in charting a future for women’s history research with panelists Marion Roydhouse, Philadelphia University, author of Women of Industry and Reform: Shaping the History of Pennsylvania, 1865-1940; Kris Myers, Director of Heritage and Outreach, the Alice Paul Institute; and Margaret Jerrido, Independent Archival Consultant. Facilitator: Cindy Little, the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent. Co-sponsored by The New Century Trust, Pennsylvania Historical Association; the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent; The Greater Philadelphia Women’s Studies Consortium; and the School of Liberal Arts, Philadelphia University.

Imagining Philadelphia’s Future: The Plans and the Realities

6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 22

Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

What does it take to create change (social, political, community, civic) in Philadelphia?  Who has the vision, the power, and the resources?  What is gained or lost in the process?  Join us for a lively discussion of the past, present, and future of city planning, from the days of Edmund Bacon to casinos, the waterfront, and the future of I-95.  The dialogue will help shape the content of the Encyclopedia.  Featuring Scott Knowles, editor and co-author of Imagining Philadelphia: Edmund Bacon and the Future of the City, and a panel including Harris Steinberg of PennPraxis, Craig Schelter of Schelter & Associates, and Jethro Heiko, Strategic Organizing Director, The Action Mill.  Facilitator:  Ariel Ben-Amos, Young Involved Philadelphia.  Thanks to our hosts at the Academy of Natural Sciences, this program will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the speakers and discussion at 6:30. A book signing for Imagining Philadelphia will follow the program. This program is cosponsored by The Academy of Natural Sciences Center for Environmental Policy as part of its ongoing commitment to promote discussion and action on important issues related to the human and natural environment. Also cosponsored by Young Involved Philadelphia, PennPraxis, PlanPhilly, and the Great Works Symposium, Drexel University.

Philadelphia’s Black Attorneys: Not Just Lawyers, But “Social Engineers”

6-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 11

African American Museum, 701 Arch Street, Philadelphia

How have African American lawyers transformed Philadelphia, inside and outside the courtroom? How has their work contributed to local, national, and international movements for empowerment and civil rights? This program takes its title from civil rights attorney Charles Hamilton Houston’s statement that “A lawyer is either a social engineer or a parasite on society.”  Join us for a lively discussion of these and other issues with David A. Canton, author of the new biography Raymond Pace Alexander: A New Negro Lawyer Fights for Civil Rights in Philadelphia, and defense attorney Michael Coard, a founding member of Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (ATAC). Facilitator: Alexis Moore, Associate Director of External Affairs and Media Relations for the American Friends Service Committee and daughter of the late Cecil B. Moore, defense attorney and NAACP head during the 1960s. Co-sponsored by Avenging The Ancestors Coalition.

The Pennsylvania Humanities Council inspires individuals to enjoy and share a life of learning enriched by human experience across time and around the world. Since 1973, the PHC has empowered local groups to offer high-quality public programs that have a positive impact on the everyday life of their communities. The PHC represents Pennsylvania in the Federal-State Partnership of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information about PHC, visit or call 800-462-0442.

About The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia will be the first comprehensive investigation of its kind into the city’s history in more than 25 years, and the first Philadelphia encyclopedia in more than 70 years. The editors of the Encyclopedia will collaborate with area cultural institutions, civic organizations, schools, scholars, and the general public to provide a fresh look at the key issues, places, events, and people that define the city and its influence. The project will include an interactive online resource as well as a print volume that will serve as a durable reference for generations to come. The project will be edited by three area scholars: Charlene Mires at Villanova University, Randall Miller at Saint Joseph’s University, and Howard Gillette at Rutgers University-Camden. Gary Nash, a UCLA history professor, and Emma Lapsansky-Werner of Haverford College will serve as consulting editors.

The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphiamakes its institutional home at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the print volume is to be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.