Older Americans Month

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Philadelphia’s Maggie Kuhn (1905-1995) epitomized the 2015 theme for Older Americans Month: Get into the Act. In 1970, Maggie Kuhn’s employer, the United Presbyterian Church in New York City, told her that at age 65 she had reached the mandatory retirement age. She and five friends, who also had been forced to retire, responded by organizing the Consultation for Older Adults headquartered in Philadelphia to combat age discrimination and stereotyping.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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St. Patrick’s Day and Philadelphia have a long and illustrious history going back to the 1770s with ours being the second oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the nation. In 2012 the museum worked with photography students from the University of the Arts to get their view of city life. Felicia Puff was drawn to the young and young at heart at the parade that year.

The 1909 Christmas Snowstorm

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These three boys and their dog on Pratt Street in the Bridesburg neighborhood are enjoying the snow that blanketed Philadelphia and other northeastern cities during the legendary December 25th-26th blizzard. The clipper system brought 21 inches of snow over 23 hours with 15.5 inches falling on December 26th. Most of December 24th had been mild for December with temperatures peaking at 40 degrees, but by 8:00p.m. temperatures dropped and a light snow began, getting heavier by the minutes and continuing through the night.

David Bustill Bowser (1820-1900)

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During the mid-nineteenth century the commercial art of David Bustill Bowser, one of a handful of successful African American artists, could be found on advertising signs and banners throughout Philadelphia as well decorating parade hats, capes, engine panels, and banners for the city’s many volunteer fire companies. Bowser received artistic training from his cousin Robert Douglass, Jr., a sign painter. Bowser’s commercial work was known for its effective use of bright colors and his strong designs.

Happy Lunar New Year!

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Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, marks the beginning of the lunisolar year; and consequently, for many, it’s known as the Lunar New Year. This year, this holiday begins on February 19. In Philadelphia, the holiday features a public street festival, parade, and of course, fireworks. Prior to the adoption of the western Gregorian calendar, the Chinese used to celebrate the fifteen-day Lantern Festival, while more recent iterations observe a truncated weeklong Spring Festival.

Will You Be Our Valentine?

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Valentine’s Day has been firmly rooted in European life since the 1400s and celebrated in North America since the 1600s. Early Valentine customs emphasized men giving women gifts such as rings, bracelets, scarves, ribbons, and handkerchiefs. The custom of sending valentine greetings on paper emerged in the 18th century. The earliest were hand-made, but savvy engravers quickly saw an opportunity and began producing cards in quantity.

The History of Yoga in Philadelphia

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Most nineteenth-century Americans had little or no knowledge about India except what they may have learned from missionaries reporting on their attempts to convert Indians to Christianity. In 1893 the World’s Fair in Chicago hosted the World Parliament of Religion, the first formal gathering in the US exploring world religions. Swami Vivekananda, who spoke at the opening session, introduced Hinduism to audiences in a talk he titled “Brothers and Sisters of America.” The response to his presentation was overwhelmingly positive.

Roots of Restaurant Week in 1970 Restaurant Renaissance

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Jane Jacob’s seminal 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities critiqued 1950s urban planning. She argued that the recent decline of American cities could, in large part, be attributed to those policies and practices. This book influenced Steve Poses, sociology major at the University of Pennsylvania in  the 1960s, to pursue a career that would contribute to the revitalization of urban living.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

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The Philadelphia History Museum is excited to participate in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service at Girard College on January 19th. In recognition of this year’s theme, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the Museum will display rare artifacts depicting the struggles for voting rights.

Mummers New Year's Day

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Philadelphia celebrates January 1 with the Mummers Parade. This festival-like parade traditionally lasts almost eight hours and involves close to 10,000 people. Participants in the parade are famous for their elaborate feathered and sequined costumes, string bands, dance steps, and cross-dressing. The parade has five divisions: wench brigades, comics, string bands, fancies, and the fancy brigades.