Recent Aquisitions

Fortune Tellers Costume

This spring the Collection Department received a call from William Miller inquiring about donating his grandfather’s fortune telling costumes. Naturally the Department was intrigued by the idea of a fortuneteller in Philadelphia during the 1930s to the1950s. Frank Kunkel Miller worked at local retail stores and as a sideline also told fortunes for movie theaters, parties and events.
As luck would have it, on the day Bill Miller was to bring his material into the Museum to show the staff; Jeffrey Ray, Curator and Charles Croce, Executive Director were being interviewed by Melissa Dribben for a future Philadelphia Inquirer article. Dribben listened to Bill Miller as he showed the costumes, photographs and talked about his family. Check out on March 14, 2013.
The costumes consisted of two Oriental styled long jackets edged with sequins and beading, matching pants and a turban for one of the outfits.  Mr. Miller shared the few photographs remaining of Frank (Professor Franko) Miller working as a fortune teller.  In one of the photographs he is seated in a small booth at a movie theater. Bill Miller remembered his ‘Pop-Pop’ as a wonderful fun man. He’s delighted that the Philadelphia History Museum wished to accept his grandfather’s unusual working clothes.
"As a person who is fascinated by clothing of all kinds, I am also delighted to have Philadelphia working clothes.  Especially ones as unusual as Professor Franko’s" said Susan Drinan, the Collection’s Registrar.

Passmore Williamson Items

Selina Strong, the great-great granddaughter of Philadelphia Abolitionist Passmore Williamson, recently made a donation consisting of several personal items of Williamson's to the Museum.

In 1855, Williamson's arrest and imprisonment made national news, helping to rally the anti-slavery movement. Among Ms. Strong's treasured possessions included in the gift to the Philadelphia History Museum are: Williamson's 1848 marriage certificate; a silver cup commemorating the birth of Williamson's daughter while he was in prison; and rare photographs of Williamson, one showing his prison cell door.

Already in the Museum collection are a coverlet used by Williamson while he was in the Moyamensing Prison (located at 11th and Reed Streets, where an Acme Market now stands) and the door from a Moyamensing prison cell.

"We are so excited to add this material to our collections. It documents Philadelphia's important role in the abolition movement and we hope to incorporate some of these items in our popular Quest for Freedom program," said the Director of the Collection, Kristen Froehlich.