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The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding an American Family

Mark Auslander's book, The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding an American Family (University of Georgia Press, 2011), examines the relationship between one enslaved woman, Miss Kitty, and her owner, prominent Methodist Bishop James Osgood Andrew. What can one contested account of an enslaved woman tell us about our difficult racial past?

The Morreys and Montiers: A Love Story

Listen to the family story of Dr. William Pickens III from a lecture given at HSP on June 20, 2011. Dr. Pickens traces his ancestry all the way back to Humphrey Morrey, who served as the first mayor of Philadelphia in 1691. Pickens’s family tree also includes Richard Morrey, whose marriage to freedwoman Cremona formed one of the city’s most prominent interracial families.

Wanamaker's: Meet Me at the Eagle

Wanamaker’s department store is fondly remembered for the massive bronze eagle in the Grand Court, concerts from the world’s largest pipe organ, and its spectacular Christmas festivities. In a lecture given on May 4, 2011, at HSP, Philadelphia native and author Michael J. Lisicky takes a nostalgic journey through the history of the store, from its beginnings as a haberdashery to the final poignant closing of its doors.

Tracing Your Native American Roots

Have you ever wondered if you descended from a Cherokee Indian princess? Searching for Native American ancestry can be a daunting and challenging task. In a lecture given at HSP on March 9, 2011, Genealogist David “Iron Head” Vann, a Cherokee descendant and member of the Cherokee National Historical Society, explains how to get started with your research.

The Fortunate Ones

The recently published historic novel, The Fortunate Ones, describes the difficult life of blind and visually impaired people who lived and worked in 18th-century Philadelphia without the use of Braille or today’s technology. In a lecture given at HSP on March 2, 2011, author Frederick W. Noesner discusses his novel. Mr. Noesner was born with malignant tumors of the retina that totally destroyed his sight during early childhood.

Poetics and Politics: The Life of Frances Harper

February marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, one of the best known African American poets of the 19th century and a staunch abolitionist. This discussion recorded at HSP on February 23, 2011, examines the poetics and politics of  Harper's life.

Tasting Freedom

Octavius Valentine Catto was a teacher, activist, and orator, as well as second baseman on Philadelphia’s best black baseball team. The nation lost a civil rights pioneer when Catto was murdered at an election-day race riot in 1871. In this lecture recorded at HSP on October 6, 2010, Daniel Biddle and Murray Dubin, authors of the recently published book Tasting Freedom from Temple University Press, discuss the life of this charismatic black leader.

From Puerto Rico to Philadelphia

Hear Dr. Victor Vazquez Hernandez speak about the Latinization of Philadelphia at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hispanic Heritage Month event. Dr. Vazquez Hernandez is an associate professor of history at Miami Dade College and co-editor of The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Historical Perspectives.