A day to honor the flag and its history

Despite his preference for unpredictability, we know exactly what President Trump will be discussing on June 14: The American flag. The occasion? A day dedicated to the Stars and Stripes. If you're caught unawares, don't get wrinkled. Flag Day comes up short in the holiday hierarchy. It's that "runty stepchild among American national holidays," according … Continue reading A day to honor the flag and its history

Photography in Philly before the selfie

Every day 95 million new images enter Instagram’s torrent of selfies, camera-friendly cats, and food portraiture. This snapshot surge is not without precedent. Consider the story of the stereograph, America’s earliest mass-produced photograph craze. First, some background. Photography is a French invention, developed by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre and officially recognized in early 1839. Newspaper features describing this … Continue reading Photography in Philly before the selfie

Philly’s lasting pedal power

Philadelphia boasts more residents commuting by bicycle per capita than any of the 10 largest cities in the United States. As you affix your ankle reflectors for this year’s National Bike to Work Week (May 15-19), consider Philadelphia’s connections to the two-wheeler. Taking a broad definition of the term, the first “bicycle” in Pennsylvania emerged … Continue reading Philly’s lasting pedal power

Dutchirican: Latin@ History in Pennsylvania

As part of a new promotional partnership, HSP and Taller Puertorriqueño are hosting community discussions about Latin@ history in Pennsylvania. On May 10, HSP will host speaker John Hinshaw to explore the confluence of cultural values between Pennsylvania Dutch and Latin@s in Central Pennsylvania. It may surprise some to learn that Philadelphia's Puerto Rican community is the second largest in the … Continue reading Dutchirican: Latin@ History in Pennsylvania

Come see rough drafts of history and the Constitution

At the corner of 13th and Locust Streets, five sets of locks and keys safeguard two pieces of rag paper. The draconian security — including a 19th-century bank vault door — is justified: Here rest the only handwritten drafts of the U.S. Constitution. Beginning on May 4, this Pentagon-level protection is on pause. Along with … Continue reading Come see rough drafts of history and the Constitution

Americans All! – Philly’s infamous WWI draft dodger

As centennial commemorations across the country honor American men and women that served in the First World War, put their courage in stark perspective with the seedy story of Grover Bergdoll, a man who fled rather than fight. First, some background. Bearing the namesake of the 22nd (and 24th) POTUS, Grover Cleveland Bergdoll was born … Continue reading Americans All! – Philly’s infamous WWI draft dodger

Nation’s founding novelist was a Philadelphian

With spring in full swing, replenished queues of tourists along Independence Mall newly attest to Philadelphia as a city of history. But Philadelphia stakes an equal claim as a city of fiction. Consider the story of Charles Brockden Brown, arguably America's first professional writer and the man who brought Gothic literature stateside. Born in 1771 … Continue reading Nation’s founding novelist was a Philadelphian

Finding Hidden Families – A Personal View by Gene O’Lowgee

Genealogy is tough stuff. Ancestry.com ads betray the craft and creativity involved in doing what, at the end of the day, is no less than reconstructing past lives and families. What is more intangible, after all, than a previous day? Let alone the folks who lived through them? (I'm sure any physicist readers will likely … Continue reading Finding Hidden Families – A Personal View by Gene O’Lowgee

Americans All! – An aerial view of the war to end all wars

As commemorations this month mark the centennial of America's involvement in the First World War, we are confronted with images resurrected from a century prior. The square-jawed "doughboys" with cigarettes pressed between their lips seem as foreign to us as lighting up on a plane in 2017. Yet many of the myths animating our forebears … Continue reading Americans All! – An aerial view of the war to end all wars