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.

The Idea of Having an Indoor Decorated Christmas Tree

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The November 1850 issue of the style-setting Godey’s Lady’s Book, published in Philadelphia, presented for the first time to an American women’s magazine audience the idea of having a decorated indoor Christmas tree. The image was an Americanized version of one published in 1848 in the Illustrated London News featuring the Royal family–Queen Victoria and her German-born husband Prince Albert, with their children gazing at the elegantly decorated tree surrounded by gifts.

The Jewish Festival of Lights

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Hanukkah (Chanukah) the Jewish Festival of Lights is held during the darkest time of the year in the northern hemisphere. This year the eight day observance begins at sunset on December 16 and concludes at sunset on December 24. The story of Hanukkah is rooted in history with the Jewish people’s victory in 162 BCE over the Greeks in the Maccabean War. After their victory, they re-dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem.

Philadelphia’s Connection to the Establishment of Thanksgiving

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Philadelphia’s connection to the establishment of Thanksgiving as a national holiday is a story we often forget to tell. Originally from New England, Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book since 1837, moved to Philadelphia in 1841 where she lived till her death in 1879. Under her guidance for 40 years, Godey’s became an influential voice on topics including fashion, food, manners, family life, women’s education, patriotism, religion in American life, and the preservation of historic sites.

Philadelphia's Quaker Lace Company

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This worker at Philadelphia’s Quaker Lace Company factory is putting the finishing touches on the pattern that will be used to program the Jacquard loom that will produce Thanksgiving-themed tablecloths of machine-made lace. This design features traditional symbols associated with the American celebration of Thanksgiving -turkeys, pumpkins, fall foliage, and Pilgrims and native people eating together.

Philadelphians, the 'Great' War, and the World

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November 11, 2014 is Veterans Day, a federal holiday, when most public schools and many workplaces (including the Philadelphia History Museum) will be closed. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared that November 11th would be Armistice Day, a day to commemorate the end of World War I with the signing of the official end of hostilities on “the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” In 1954, Congress amended Armistice Day to become Veterans Day, to honor the service of all veterans of all wars.

Celebrating Jeffrey Ray Day

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It’s hard to say ‘good-by and have a happy retirement’ to someone who knows all the nooks and crannies of the Philadelphia History Museum. Jeffrey Ray, Senior Curator, had been with the Philadelphia History Museum for 29 years. He not only knew when the old boiler system had been last repaired, he also could tell you a story about what happened when they put in the Marian Mitchell Garden back in the 1991.