Philadelphia's Connection to Flag Day

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During the late 1800s events celebrating the flag began informally in schools, evolving into official events in cities, towns, and states decades before President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 issued a proclamation establishing Flag Day. In 1949 President Harry Truman signed an act of Congress designating June 14th as Flag Day.

The Photography of Solomon Mednick

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Solomon "Sol" Mednick (1916-1970) was a photographer active in Philadelphia and New York from the 1940s to the late 1960s. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1916, Mednick was the oldest of three children. His father, Benjamin, started a photography studio in the family's home on N. 31st Street around 1920. In the 1930s, Mednick attended school at the Philadelphia College of Art (now known as University of the Arts) studying under well-known Russian photographer, graphic designer, and eventual art director of Harper's Bazaar, Alexey Brodovitch.

Moments from the Map

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I have talked to a lot of people in my time behind the reclaimed cedar planks of the admissions desk at the Philadelphia History Museum. If I have learned one thing, it is that everyone has a story to tell. The Philadelphia History Museum has a knack for reminding people of their past, and inspiring them to tell their stories. I consider myself lucky that I get to hear these stories first hand.

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.