Tagged History

Friday the 13th

There are many things associated with Friday the 13th, including horror films, bad luck, phobias ( paraskevidekatriaphobia ). Historians believe that Friday the 13th comes from the number 13 being viewed as unlucky. But how did we get…

The Philadelphia Colored Directory of 1910 Recently Scanned and Available for Download in Our Digital Collections

The Philadelphia Colored Directory , a handbook of religious, social, political, professional, business activities of the Negroes of Philadelphia, was compiled by R. (Richard) R. (Robert) Wright, Jr.; assisted by Ernest Smith. This…

Following Octavius V. Catto’s Footsteps

It has been more than 150 years since Octavius Catto may have slipped on a sack overcoat that hung by his front door, pushed a well-worn felt pocket hat over his parted hair, stepped out into the fall chill, and walked a few blocks down…

Corridor of Culture: 100 Years of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

In the autumn of 2016, we were tasked with a fascinating challenge: create a bold and welcoming exhibition that would discuss the history of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. On the surface, this isn’t that difficult. As curators in…

Looking Beyond the Headlines: What You Should Know About Russia, North Korea, and Turkey

Relatively few Americans have ever visited or know much about Russia, North Korea, and Turkey. Yet, each passing day seems to bring additional evidence that these nations are working to thwart U.S. foreign policy goals from Eastern…

Enjoy the Dog Days of Summer with the Free Library!

It’s getting hot out there, huh? As we all try our best to deal with the rising temperatures, don’t forget that the Free Library of Philadelphia is a great place to cool off during these dog days of summer. From books and…

Monthly Military History Club Discusses Major Personalities and Battles of World War II

For the members of our Military History Club, each monthly meeting leads to a passionate and well-informed discussion about the major personalities and battles of World War II. The group is led by John Hemphill, a staff member of…

A History Minute: The Fortunes of Philadelphia - The Engineers

By 1800, Philadelphia was not only the Cradle of Liberty but the center of American manufacturing and innovation. It was the kind of place a young man of vision who was not afraid to get his hands dirty could come and make his fortune.…

A History Minute: The Fortunes of Philadelphia - The Trolley Kings

Mid-19th century Philadelphia was booming. Its factories produced iron and steel, locomotives and textiles, and finished goods of all kinds. Immigrants and citizens alike flowed into the city to fill new jobs. The 1854 Act of…

A History Minute: The "Philadelphia Apocalypse" a.k.a. Yellow Fever

Church bells ring incessantly throughout deserted streets. Homes are abandoned and those that are not are barricaded against strangers and friends alike. Formerly bustling markets stand empty except for a handful of vendors who put…

The Richest Man in America

In the spring of 1776 , the British began a blockade of American ports, throwing coastal shipping into disarray and sending many captains back to the more secure European routes. But a young French captain, Stephan Girard, saw an…

#MysteryMonday: The History of Mystery: A By-No-Means-Exhaustive Timeline

The Free Library is exploring the history and art of the mystery with We the Detectives , a unique, multifaceted, and immersive intellectual and creative experience. Here we track the growth of this fan-favorite genre—now one of…

A History Minute: Philadelphia's Medical Mystery

Philadelphia was the place to be in July of 1976. Even Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain came to present the Bicentennial Bell , cast in the same foundry as our Liberty Bell. The 4,000+ members of the Pennsylvania chapter of the…

Librarian Traces Family Roots Through Historic Bible

The Rare Book Department 's Judaica includes a beautifully written and lavishly hand-decorated Spanish Hebrew Masoretic Text bible . Commissioned in 1496 in Lisbon, Portugal, the book is well-known among contemporary Hebrew bible…

Literary Scenes from New Orleans

New Orleans is always on my mind at this time of year. Mardi Gras is more than just Fat Tuesday in the Big Easy, and the celebrations extend far beyond Bourbon Street: parades take place all over the city for several weeks,…

African American Philanthropists in Early Philadelphia

Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and other tech billionaire/philanthropists may have set new standards in giving, but philanthropy is an old Philadelphia tradition with two of our earliest millionaire/philanthropists being African…

Abraham Lincoln: Fashion Trendsetter or Patent Pioneer?

So, what’s the story with Abraham Lincoln wearing a leather biker jacket? If you’ve ever entered or exited Parkway Central Library through the back door on Wood Street, you might have seen the picture in question. It gets…

Presidential Inaugural Stories and Anecdotes

The peaceful transfer of power from one presidential administration to the next is a hallmark of our democracy—and something that Americans take great pride in. The occasion is particularly bittersweet when one of our two major…

Philadelphia: City of the Uncanny and the Arcane

Philadelphia is a wild and weird city. There’s so much to love, to hate, to love to hate, and to hate to love. There’s also so much that we, as every day Philadelphians, have somehow forgotten or never learned about our…

The Real Game of Thrones - Historical Events that Inspired the Novels and Show

Are you a fan of HBO’s television series Game of Thrones ? The sixth season  of the series based on George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire ended in June, and has proven to be as exciting as the…

Author Talk: Daniel Biddle & Murray Dubin

Authors Daniel Biddle and Murray Dubin will present their book Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America and sign copies of the book, which will be available for purchase. In Tasting Freedom,…

Jed Perl | Calder: The Conquest of Time: The Early Years: 1898-1940

“Few people write about art as beautifully” ( Wall Street Journal ) as Jed Perl, a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and the former 20-year art critic for The New Republic . A longtime contributing editor…

Russell Shorto | Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom

Russell Shorto is the author of the bestselling The Island at the Center of World , “a masterpiece of storytelling and first-rate intellectual history” ( Wall Street Journal ) of the forgotten and mythologized Dutch colony…

The Devil Inside Me

Join us— if you dare —for a retrospective discussion of the infamous serial killers and mass murderers that have walked and stalked the streets of Philadelphia. When one thinks of Philadelphia over the centuries, one…

Gordon S. Wood | Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

Acclaimed for synthesizing historical insight with wit and exuberance, Gordon S. Wood won the Pulitzer Prize for History and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award for The Radicalism of the American Revolution , a rollicking and watershed study…

Dan Rather | What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism

Event completely sold out!  Auditorium ticket includes a book. Couple ticket includes one book and admission for two people. In conversation with longtime broadcaster and journalist, Tracey Matisak One of the most decorated…

The Wagner Free Institute of Science presents: A Selective History of 19th Century American Entomology with Professor Greg Cowper.

This course will examine the field of Entomology—the study of insects—through the lens of 19th century American, and chronologically explore the entomologists, their work, the science, and the insects that were influential…

The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Cookbook: Book Talk and Tasting

Join Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge reservation, and the founder of the company The Sioux Chef for a talk and tasting at Parkway Central Library's Skyline Room. Chef Sean has become renowned nationally and…

Pepper Hall: The Founder’s Legacy

Named after the Free Library’s founder, Dr. William Pepper, Pepper Hall is a large, bright room on the north side of the Parkway Central Library that originally housed the Free Library’s art and architecture collections. In…

From Proposal to Project: Philadelphia’s Parkway, 1884–1937

Highlighting materials from the Library’s Map Collection, this exhibition delves into the complicated history of the Parkway’s initial proposal, its iterations of building plans, and its triumphant renaming. Learn about the…

Chris Matthews | Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit

The host of MSNBC’s popular news and commentary program Hardball , Chris Matthews is one of America’s most familiar media faces. A former longtime syndicated print media columnist, staffer for several Democratic members of…

The Wagner Free Institute of Science presents: The Cosmos: A History of Modern Astronomy by Professor Darin Hayton.

When astronomers in the early 17th century turned the newly-invented telescope at the heavens, they saw things people had never seen before. These new observations challenged accepted ideas about the size, age, and very nature of the…

The Wagner Free Institute of Science presents: A Selective History of 19th Century American Entomology with Professor Greg Cowper.

This course will examine the field of Entomology—the study of insects—through the lens of 19th century American, and chronologically explore the entomologists, their work, the science, and the insects that were influential…

The Early Days at the Parkway Central Library

This exhibit commemorates the 90th anniversary of the Parkway Central Library. The display features photographs of the Business Resource and Innovation Center and the Education, Philosophy and Religion Department around the time…

The Wagner Free Institute of Science presents: A Selective History of 19th Century American Entomology with Professor Greg Cowper.

This course will examine the field of Entomology—the study of insects—through the lens of 19th century American, and chronologically explore the entomologists, their work, the science, and the insects that were influential…

The Wagner Free Institute of Science presents: The Cosmos: A History of Modern Astronomy by Professor Darin Hayton.

When astronomers in the early 17th century turned the newly-invented telescope at the heavens, they saw things people had never seen before. These new observations challenged accepted ideas about the size, age, and very nature of the…

Simon Schama | The Story of the Jews Volume Two: Belonging: 1492-1900

EVENT COMPLETELY SOLD OUT In conversation with Carlin Romano , Critic-at-Large,The Chronicle of Higher Education  Lauded historian Simon Schama is the author of The Embarrassment of Riches; Scribble, Scribble, Scribble ; and…

Freedom Train - Adults

Supplemental adult reading suggestions for the Rosenbach's Freedom Train exhibition, running July 1st, 2016 through November 1st, 2016.

Freedom Train - Teens

Supplemental teen reading suggestions for the Rosenbach's Freedom Train exhibition, running July 1st, 2016 through November 1st, 2016.

Freedom Train - Children

Supplemental children's reading suggestions for the Rosenbach's Freedom Train exhibition, running July 1st, 2016 through November 1st, 2016.

Presidents of the United States

Under the United States Constitution, the President of the United States is the head of state and head of government of the United States. As chief of the executive branch and face of the federal government as a whole, the presidency is…

Asians American History, Cultural Traditions, and Celebrations

History of different Asian ethnic groups in America and background on Asian cultural traditions and holidays.

U.S. Elections and Politics.

The United States presidential election of 2016, scheduled for Tuesday, November 8, 2016, will be the 58th quadrennial U.S. presidential election. Read on for U.S. Election and Political resources relating to the upcoming Presidential…

U.S. History In Context

Covers themes, events, individuals and periods in U.S. history from pre-colonial times to the present. The material also includes access to the citations for over 180 additional history journals from the Institute for Scientific…

Philadelphia Evening Telegraph

Philadelphia Evening Telegraph was a daily afternoon newspaper started on January 4, 1864. Search, browse, and read it online here.

Early American Newspapers, Series I (1690-1876)

Early American Newspapers features cover-to-cover reproductions of hundreds of historic newspapers, providing more than one million pages as fully text-searchable facsimile images. For students and scholars of early America, this unique…

Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker (1801-1819)

Covering every aspect of American life during the early decades of the United States, this rich primary source collection provides full-text access to the 36,000 American books, pamphlets and broadsides published in the first nineteen…

Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans (1639-1800)

Based on the renowned American Bibliography by Charles Evans. The definitive resource for every aspect of life in 17th- and 18th-century America, from agriculture and auctions through foreign affairs, diplomacy, literature, music,…

Archive of Americana

Search or browse the books, pamphlets, and other imprints listed in the renowned bibliography by Charles Evans, including publications unavailable earlier. Search or browse the books, pamphlets, broadsides and other imprints listed in…

American State Papers, 1789-1838

A rich source of primary material on many aspects of early American history, American State Papers, 1789-1838, features not only new bibliographic records for every one of its 6,354 publications, but also superior images created by…

American Broadsides and Ephemera

The American Antiquarian Society's collection of single-sheet documents printed before 1877 is perhaps the most extensive in existence. It consists of broadsides, advertisements, invitations and notices, leaflets, trade cards (i.e., the…