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News, events, updates, and tidbits from the Presbyterian Historical Society. Use tags to read related articles or sort by author for similar posts written by PHS staff members and volunteers.

March 23, 2017

--by Kenneth J. Ross

Philadelphia’s importance as a center of African American history rests in part on its role as the birthplace of the nation’s first black churches. It was the churches which gave shape and protection to the emerging African American community in the urban North—educating their young, disciplining their members, and providing young and old with material support, moral guidance, and spiritual hope. Philadelphia saw both the...

January 12, 2017

In different points in its life, the Philadelphia congregation known as Beacon has been a Sunday school mission, a nesting congregation, a mother church with its own college, a church in schism, and a new church development. A persistent thread in the fabric of Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood, its population waxed and waned by turns, for 146 years.

Beacon began life in 1871 as a Sunday school mission of the First Presbyterian Church of Kensington. In 1872, the growing church bought a parcel of land from...

October 26, 2016

During recent installation of new brick for what will become the Stated Clerks Square, masons removed from inside the sundial in our front lawn a metal cylinder two feet high and eight inches in circumference. I had had no idea that we owned a time capsule, but naturally we do. The institution is 154 years old; it will continue to disgorge secrets.

Patrons occasionally ask us questions about time capsules: Where should we put our time capsule? What should it be made out of? What should we put in it? It's probably best...

September 27, 2012

Written by Elaine Shilstut, Cataloging Librarian

Last month, we were contacted by a Philadelphia high school teacher researching the story behind the city of Philadelphia flag. For those of you who cannot easily visualize the flag’s design, it consists of three equal vertical bands of blue, gold, and blue. Emblazoned across the center is the city’s coat-of-arms: a shield flanked by two robed female figures, an arm holding a pair of scales at

December 13, 2011


The Witherspoon Building, Philadelphia

One of the joys of my job is getting to play historical detective. I got a clue one day of a possible new discovery when a gentleman came to the reference desk asking if we had any pictures of the old prophet statues on the original Witherspoon Building.

Erected in 1896 near...

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