The Great Central Fair

The Great Central Fair

Every month or two at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, a new document display goes up in the lobby. Each display has a theme and contains HSP’s sources that relate to that topic. Currently, there is a WWI display  to commemorate the centennial of the start of the war. Next month, the display theme will be the Great Central Fair, also known as the Philadelphia Sanitary Fair. What is a Sanitary Fair, you ask? What made this fair so “great”?  Well, let me tell you. The U.S. Sanitary Commission was a precursor to the Red Cross and was founded in 1861 to help support the sick and wounded soldiers of the Union army during the Civil War. Their main fundraisers were Sanitary Fairs, public fairs held in major cities that raised money for the soldiers. The fairs were held successfully in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Boston, before it was decided to hold one in Philadelphia in 1864. The buildings of the Fair were constructed in a mere 40 days in what is currently Logan Square. The Fair opened on June 7th, 1864, and closed three weeks later, on June 28th. The Fair included displays of art and historical relics and  vendors selling various items. 9,000 people attended per day, on average. In total, the Fair raised over $1,000,000, an incredible amount of money in 1864. Over the last few weeks, another intern and I have been working on this display. We have looked through HSP’s collections on the Great Central Fair and have pulled items that are important and visually appealing. Looking through all this stuff from the Civil War...
Engaging with History at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Engaging with History at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

After countless summers of babysitting and getting sunburned at the beach, I am finally trying to be a “real person.” This summer, I have a full-time internship at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, funded by the Hurford Center’s Philadelphia Partners program. I am an education intern, which perfectly combines my history major and education minor and fuels my desire to teach history on the high school level.  The Society aims to bring primary sources into the classroom and helps teachers integrate primary sources into the history curriculum by providing programs and resources. As an education intern,  some of my tasks include editing and updating the lesson plans on the website, observing student programs, analyzing student surveys, and creating my own lesson plans using primary sources found at HSP. I have been working on a lesson plan about the Vietnam War. HSP houses the papers of Joseph Sill Clark, a Democratic politician from Philadelphia who served both as mayor of Philadelphia and a US Senator. Part of his vast collection are several boxes of items pertaining to the Vietnam war, including personal notes, correspondence with other senators, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and speeches. While perusing these resources, I found a very interesting article about Haverford. The article states:  “Communist North Vietnam’s official radio reported Monday that a committee of students at a Pennsylvania college was collecting money to help the Vietcong, which it called the South Vietnam National Liberation Front. The Hanoi radio said students at Haverford College, near Philadelphia, had formed a ‘May 2 Committee’ to collect funds for medical supplies for the Vietcong. The committee also was reported planning a demonstration...