Daniel Rolph

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Around the year 1678, Thomas Norris, a Quaker and merchant from London, emigrated to Jamaica to escape religious persecution. To add insult to injury, he was killed during the earthquake which sank the famed pirate city of Port Royal, on June 7th, 1692.  Thomas’ son Isaac, who lived in Jamaica as a small child, was residing in Philadelphia at the time, acting as his father’s business agent.

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The Philadelphia area of the Delaware Valley, like other parts of the country, has its own archaeological  or paleontological mysteries.  Peter Kalm, the famous Swedish botanist, in his Travels Into North America, visited Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and parts of Canada in 1748 & 1749, wherein he recorded a number of enigmatic discoveries. He noted everything from copper tools, mines, to that of wells, walls, and burnt bricks, found many feet below the surface of the earth, antedating the arrival of Europeans.


Historians generally agree that French aid was instrumental to the American victory during the Revolutionary war. Officers such as the famous Marquis de Lafayette and Viscount Francois-Louis Teissedre de Fleury to the countless numbers of enlisted men, all helped the Colonies gain their independence.

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A recent issue of Philadelphia Weekly (Feb.4-11, 2015) posed the question, “What figure in Black history inspires you?” Of course the answer could easily be found, by drawing from a variety of categories, as many African-Americans played major roles in numerous aspects of our national history from Martin Luther King to Malcolm X.  As this year wraps up the 150th Anniversary Commemoration of the Civil War, most people are familiar with such heroic military organizations as the 54th Massachusetts,as portrayed in the movie Glory, or with famed Black personalities as nava


Last month, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania highlighted our Japanese Internment manuscript materials of WWII with “The Truth Behind Hold These Truths,” a program featuring Penn professor Dr. Franklin Odo, a performance by Makato Hirano, and a discussion with Sumiko Kobayashi, a former internee whose records are housed at the Society.


The American Frontier has made a considerable contribution to our Nation’s history and literature, from Frederick Jackson Turner’s famous essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” to the quasi-historical novels of James Fennimore Cooper, Walter Edmonds, and Conrad Richter. The frontier experience also aided in creating the American character: one of rugged-individualism and self-reliance.


Out of over 500,000 graphic images, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania is rich in various holiday illustrations, lithographs, watercolors, and photographs. A sampling of which is presented here in this holiday edition of History Hits.

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For centuries, soldiers serving in various battles have believed and stated to their comrades-in-arms that they were about to die, or would within the near future. Hundreds of such accounts exist for the Civil War era of United States history.  For the most part, such statements are common to men in battle, but enough well-documented and detailed narratives exist to convince any skeptic that such beliefs are not always figments of imagination or products of irrational fears.


While the end of October usually brings to mind images of ghosts, goblins, and trick-or-treaters, it’s fitting to remember that it also brought about the conclusion of a momentous event over 200 years ago. From September 5 through October 26, 1774, the First Continental Congress was held here in Philadelphia.


Prior to the Revolutionary War, thousands of indentured servants and convicts were transported (often against their own will) by Great Britain to either mainland America or to the British colonies in the West Indies. Though the majority of those who survived the voyage, disease, and physical abuse by their masters eventually became responsible citizens, a significant number failed to be reformed of their past criminal behavior. Perhaps surprisingly, many of these repeat offenders were women.