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

Americans All! – The Sinking of the Lusitania

The cables had started to stream in during the early afternoon. A passenger ship crossing the Atlantic sank with the loss of 1,200 lives – including 128 Americans. Chaos had erupted on board as the ocean steamer began to list. Prominent captains of industry and working class folks alike perished in the chilly water. No, … Continue reading Americans All! – The Sinking of the Lusitania

Americans All! – Wartime help based in Phila.

As commemorations across the country mark the centennial of American involvement in the First World War, consider the story of the Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania (EAP), a women's organization founded to help wounded soldiers and distressed civilians alike. At the outbreak of the conflict in 1914, a plurality of Philadelphians - like most Americans - … Continue reading Americans All! – Wartime help based in Phila.

Hitting baseball through a glass ceiling

As the Phillies step up to the plate against the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day, consider the story of Philadelphian Edith Houghton, Major League Baseball's first female scout. The daughter of a grocery goods distributor and semiprofessional baseball player, Houghton was born in North Philadelphia in 1912, the youngest of 10 children. When her family … Continue reading Hitting baseball through a glass ceiling

Truly #NoFilter

More than 170 years ago, Philadelphian Joseph Saxton (Born on this day in 1799)  did something extraordinary. With a cigar box, a burning glass lens, and a light-sensitive silver-coated metallic plate, Saxton peered out of an upper window at the U.S. Mint and captured an image of two partially blurred buildings. The result: The oldest extant … Continue reading Truly #NoFilter

Christoph Sower and the German Bible

The first Bibles printed in America were not in English. The first North American edition was a translation into the Native American language of Algonquian, printed in 1663 in Massachusetts. The second was in German and published in Philadelphia's Germantown in 1743 by Christoph Sower (ocassionally styled as "Sauer"). The first English language printing did not … Continue reading Christoph Sower and the German Bible

Russian Brotherhood – A Philly Story

Now known as the Keystone State, Pennsylvania equally deserved its earlier nickname: the Coal State. Northeastern Pennsylvania at one time contained three-quarters of the world’s anthracite deposits. Beginning in the early 1800s, beleaguered Eastern European laborers flocked to this region. Carpatho-Rusyns, i.e. those living along the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains in present day Hungary, … Continue reading Russian Brotherhood – A Philly Story

When the Irish stepped up to help save the Union

As crowds line the route of this year's St. Patrick's Day parade, consider the story of Irish immigration through the prism of the Union Army's Irish Brigade. First some background. When many Americans think of Irish immigration, imaginations flock to the 19th century's crush of humanity chased from the Emerald Isle by famine and political … Continue reading When the Irish stepped up to help save the Union