The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) approved 22 new historical markers at its March 4, 2015 meeting. There are currently more than 2,000 PHMC markers throughout Pennsylvania and the program is one of the most popular and visible aspects of the Commission’s work. The Commission has standard approval criteria that, among other things, require marker subjects be of statewide and/or national historical significance. The majority of the newly approved markers are in Philadelphia (9), which is also where the most (20) nominations came from. With such a long and rich history, it is no surprise that Philadelphia has the largest number of markers of any county in the state (over 250). The Marker Program encourages broad distribution, so individuals and organizations from the other 66 counties are encouraged to research their history and develop nominations for people, places, events, and innovations with statewide and/or national historical significance in their own area.
Newly approved markers in Philadelphia this year are:
- Anthony Benezet, a Quaker abolitionist who was a pioneer in the education of females and African-Americans;
- Dr. Constantine Hering, a pioneer in the field of homeopathic medicine whose research, discoveries, and educational methods transformed modern medicine;
- Maxfield Parrish, nationally recognized artist and illustrator known for painting in vibrant shades of blue and capturing the spontaneity of movement.
- Medical Library Association, the oldest medical library association in the world, founded to facilitate the accessibility of medical literature to medical practitioners, researchers, educators and students;
Sarah Josepha Hale, a pioneer in women’s journalism who edited the first magazine for women in the nation, the Ladies Magazine which became Godey’s Lady’s Book;
- Sigma Sound Studios, which was progressive in its recording methods of numerous national artists – many of its innovations are still in use today.
- Sullivan Progress Plaza, the first shopping center developed, owned, and managed by African Americans, established by Rev. Leon Sullivan in 1968;
Terminal Commerce Building, built by Reading Railroad in 1931 when it was the largest commercial structure of its kind in the world;
- William Penn Charter School, envisioned and chartered by William Penn, the oldest continually operating Quaker school in the world.
Three nominations for markers in Delaware County were approved. All are for outstanding women from Pennsylvania.
Tatiana Proskouriakoff was born in Russia and began her career in archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania. She revolutionized the world’s understanding of Mayan hieroglyphics.
- Ethel Waters became a renowned singer and actress, despite a very difficult early life. A Grammy-winning blues singer, she broke into acting later in life and was nominated for both Academy and Emmy awards.
- Mildred Scott Olmstead was a tireless worker for peace and relief movements beginning in WWI and a staunch advocate for women’s rights. She received national and international awards for her efforts.
Other markers approved across the Commonwealth include:
- American Institute of Mining Engineers in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County;
- The Dennis Farm in Brooklyn Twp., Susquehanna County, an African American farm in the same family for 200 years;
- Devon Horse Show in Chester County, one of the earliest and oldest shows of its kind in the nation;
- Don’t Give Up the Ship Battle Flag in Erie, PA, the iconic flag of the War of 1812 created by a group of Erie women;
Eddie Adams, internationally recognized photojournalist; in New Kensington, Westmoreland County;
- Newport Citizens Free Captured Fugitive Slaves, an incident involving the Underground Railroad in Perry County;
- Robertson Art Tile Company, a pioneer in the mosaic tile industry, in Morrisville, Bucks County;
- Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel, an innovator in the history of the American theater, in Forest City, Susquehanna County;
- Westinghouse Gas Wells, located where Westinghouse discovered natural gas on his Pittsburgh property and developed over 30 patented inventions for its distribution, safe use, and metering;
- York Water Company in York, PA, the oldest investor-owned utility in the nation.
Check out the calendar of dedication events and show your support for Pennsylvania history by attending a dedication ceremony in your community.