History Hits

10/30/13
Author: Daniel Rolph

Some people assume that the magical practice of using a likeness of a person to influence his actions or destiny is a product of Haitian or West African Vodou or Voodooism. Yet such paranormal acts are not exclusively African in origin. Image Magic, or invultuation or envoutement as it is officially known, has been around for centuries in many countries. In European folk traditions, clay, wood, metal, and wax all have been used to make life-like images of individuals.

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8/21/13
Author: Daniel Rolph

Though most people are familiar with Wild West characters such as showman Buffalo Bill Cody and sharpshooter Annie Oakley, far fewer have heard of famed theatrical promoter Gordon William Lillie, known as Pawnee Bill, and his Philadelphia connections. Lillie was born in Illinois, but he spent time living in Philadelphia and organized numerous Wild West shows in Harrisburg.

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6/26/13
Author: Daniel Rolph

When one thinks of early Quakers or members of the Society of Friends, a common stereotype is that they were predominately pacifists, or non-aggressive in nature. Though this may be true to a large degree, like individuals of all faiths, there are those who fail to fit the prescribed behavior and instead exhibit characteristics quite distinct and independent of the norm. Born in 1799, Josiah Harlan, a Quaker from Chester County, Pennsylvania, was one such character.

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5/6/13
Author: Daniel Rolph

As one of the last surviving signers of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was invited to attend and speak at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of American independence in Washington, DC. Though Jefferson failed to attend because of ailing health, he wrote a poignant letter to Washington’s mayor, Roger C. Weightman, on June 24, 1826.

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2/28/13
Author: Daniel Rolph

The Pennsylvania Abolition Society was founded in 1775 by a group of mostly Quaker men in Philadelphia. Originally called “the Pennsylvania Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage,” the group’s primary mission at that time was to render aid to free people of color who had been wrongfully enslaved.

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1/30/13
Author: Daniel Rolph

January marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, one of the most important documents in American history. Popular history often portrays Abraham Lincoln as the "Great Emancipator,” as most recently seen in the Stephen Spielberg film Lincoln. As a film review in the City Journal states, actor Daniel Day-Lewis “gives us Lincoln as we wish to see him.” The notion that Lincoln was an abolitionist who always wished to free African Americans from bondage is “fictory” rather than “history.”

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12/21/12
Author: Daniel Rolph

Early 19th-century newspapers and periodicals are filled with numerous accounts of the discovery of the fossilized bones of extinct mega-fauna, such as those of the mastodons and mammoths that once roamed the prairies and forests of prehistoric America. Dinosaurs in the United States are usually associated with the western states such as Utah, Montana, and Wyoming, where large fossilized deposits have been excavated. It may be surprising that one of the most significant discoveries in paleontology happened on the east coast in New Jersey.

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11/28/12
Author: Daniel Rolph

For six weeks in the fall of 1777, the British fired upon Fort Mifflin along the Delaware River in an attempt to drive out American troops. This was one of the largest bombardments of the war and a pivotal moment in the American Revolution.

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10/31/12
Author: Daniel Rolph

This Halloween the Historical Society of Pennsylvania brings you the story of a haunted mansion and its supernatural occupants. This tale begins in the early 1800s in a mansion in Montgomery County in the town of Cynwyd.

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9/26/12
Author: Daniel Rolph

September 17 marked the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States of America at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Francis Hopkinson, a native of Philadelphia, had previously signed the Declaration of Independence and was very active in the debates at the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

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