Stories from PA History
Story Details
The Power of Words: Writers and Publishers
This broad introduction to the history of the written and printed word in Pennsylvania history includes a rich collection of documents that capture events as they were lived and ideas as they were taking shape.

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Bring this subject into focus through the following chapters. These stories take exploration of the main story further by providing more detail for you to learn and explore.

Overview: The Power of Words: Writers and Publishers
Chapter One: Spoken Into Existence: From Settlement to Independence
Chapter Two: Writers and Publishers of the New Republic
Chapter Three: Pennsylvania 1820-1865: Expansion and Reforms
Chapter Four: Making Sense of the Industrial World
Chapter Five: Voices of the Commonwealth: Pennsylvania Writers in the Twentieth Century

Historical Markers In the Story
marker icon Cyrus H.K. Curtis (1850–1933) (Montgomery) marker icon Demetrius Gallitzin, Catholic colony of Loretto (Cambria)
marker icon Dietrick Lamade (Lycoming) marker icon Edward Drinker Cope (Philadelphia)
marker icon Frances E.W. Harper (Philadelphia) marker icon Freedom Theatre (Philadelphia)
marker icon George Catlin [Indians] (Luzerne) marker icon Isaac Leeser (Philadelphia)
marker icon Jane Grey Swisshelm (Allegheny) marker icon Joseph Smith (Susquehanna)
marker icon Lucretia C. Mott (Montgomery) marker icon Martin R. Delany (Allegheny)
marker icon Mill Grove (John James Audubon) (Montgomery) marker icon Nessmuk (Tioga)
marker icon Patrick Gass (Franklin) marker icon Pennsylvania Abolition Society (Philadelphia)
marker icon Pennsylvania Hall (Philadelphia) marker icon Samuel S. Haldeman (1812 - 1880) (Lancaster)
marker icon Stephen C. Foster (Allegheny) marker icon White Cottage (Beaver)
marker icon William Darlington (Chester) marker icon William Still (Philadelphia)

Lesson Plans for this Story
Take your students back in history with these discussions and activities for the classroom

Story Bibliography

Original Documents
icon full text George Lippard, Preface and Introduction, The Quaker City; Or, The Monks of Monks Hall, 1845.
icon full text T.S. Arthur, "Night the Tenth." Ten Nights in a Bar Room, 1858.

1682 William Penn drafts the Great Law, which provides Pennsylvania colonists rights unknown elsewhere in Great Britain or its North American colonies, including freedom of worship.
1683 Publication of William Penn's "A Prospectus to Merchants," the first of his pamphlets written to attract settlers to his new colony of Pennsylvania
1685 First printing press founded in Philadelphia by Andrew Bradford
1688 Four German Quakers in Germantown issue the first formal protest against slavery
1690 First paper mill founded in Pennsylvania by William Rittenhouse
1701 William Penn and the Pennsylvania Assembly agree to Charter of Privileges, a frame of government that remains in place until the American Revolution.
1719 In Philadelphia, William Bradford begins publication of American Weekly Mercury, the first American newspaper issued south of New England.
1729 Benjamin Franklin begins printing Pennsylvania Gazette, founded the previous year by Samuel Keimer.
1731 Benjamin Franklin organizes the Library Company, America's first successful lending library.
1732 Benjamin Franklin begins publication of Poor Richard's Almanack, soon the best-selling pamphlet published in the American colonies.
1739 In Germantown, Christopher Sauer begins publication of Der Deutsch Pennsylvanische Geschicht-Schreiber, North America's first German-language/German-typeface newspaper
1754 Benjamin Franklin publishes "JOIN OR DIE," the first cartoon in British North America, to encourage unity during the French and Indian War.
1755 Publication in Germany of Gottleb Mittelberger's Journey to Pennsylvania in the Year 1750 and Return to Germany in the year 1754, the shocking account of the suffering and exploitation experienced by the German "redemptioners" who immigrated to Pennsylvania
1758 Publication of Benjamin Franklin's "The Way to Wealth," which soon becomes an international bestseller.
1764 Fifty-eight pamphlets and four political cartoons debate the Paxton Boys.
1767 - 1768 Publication of John Dickinson's Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, which makes an eloquent case for the rights of Englishmen in the colonies.
1771 In its first issue, the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society publishes David Rittenhouse's calculations on the transit of Venus.
1776 Publication of Thomas Payne's Common Sense fuels enthusiasm for American independence; adoption of the Declaration of Independence, also written in Philadelphia
1777 Ratification of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, the first constitution of the United States, written by members of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776
1786 Debut of the Pittsburgh Gazette, the first newspaper published west of the Alleghenies
1788 Ratification of the United States Constitution, written in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787; Pennsylvania anti-federalists publish fifteen objections, which lead to the establishment of a Bill of Rights.
1790 - 1800 Philadelphia, the nation's capital, gives birth to the first wave of fiercely partisan and nasty political journalism, as William Cobbett's Porcupine's Gazette and Mathew Cary and Benjamin Franklin Bache's The Aurora, slug it out between the Federalist and Democratic Republican parties.
1790 Philadelphia printer Thomas Dobson publishes the first American edition of the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, the forerunner of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
1791 Publication of William Bartram's Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, a groundbreaking work of American natural history and observations, with a literary style that is emulated on both sides of the Atlantic
1798 Publication of Wieland, the first of three novels by Philadelphian Charles Brockton Browne, which mark the birth of the American gothic novel; Benjamin Franklin "Lightning Rod Junior" Bache becomes the first of ten Democratic Republican editors convicted and jailed for seditious libel against President Adams and other Federalist officials.
1814 Father Demetrius Gallitzin writes a "Defense of Catholic Principles," the first published defense of the Catholic faith in America.
1815 Hugh Henry Brackenridge publishes the final installment of Modern Chivalry, one of the first great American novels.
1828 Edwin Forrest funds competition for American playwrights to encourage the development of an American theater.
1836 First publication of McGuffey's Readers, which will sell more than 120 million copies by 1960; founding of the A.M.E. Book Concern in Philadelphia, the nation's first African-American publisher of hymnals, religious materials, and works by black authors.
1838 - 1844 While residing in Philadelphia, Edgar Allan Poe writes mystery tales and the first draft of "The Raven."
1840 George Rex Graham launches Graham's Magazine in Philadelphia. It goes on to become the nation's best-selling literary magazine of antebellum America.
1841 Sarah Josephus Hale moves to Philadelphia to become editor of Godey's Ladies Book, the nation’s most popular and influential magazine for women.
1842 Charles Dickens publishes American Notes after his visit to the United States, which includes critical accounts of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
1843 In Philadelphia, Isaac Lesser founds The Occident and American Jewish Advocate, the first American monthly journal to address Jewish issues.
1844 Publication of George Lippard's Monks of Monk Hall, a dark Gothic novel on the mysteries and miseries of the city of Philadelphia
1847 Jane Swisshelm becomes the first female newspaper publisher in the Commonwealth when she starts the Pittsburgh Saturday Visitor.
1848 Stephen Foster composes "Oh! Susanna."
1849 A year after helping write the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Convention for Women’s Rights, Lucretia Mott publishes her "Discourse on Women," a widely distributed pamphlet laying out the case for the equal rights of American women.
1852 Pittsburgh abolitionist Martin Delany makes the case for African-American immigration to Africa in The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States.
1854 Publication of T.S. Arthur's Ten Nights in a Bar Room, which fuels the American temperance movement
1872 Publication of William Still's The Underground Railroad
1879 Publication of Henry George's Progress and Poverty; in Pittsburgh, Charles Taze Russell begins publication of Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, the religious journal of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
1882 In Williamsport, Dietrick Lamade begins publication of The Grit, soon to become the nation's most widely distributed country and small-town weekly newspaper.
1884 Publication of Nessmuk's Woodcraft; first publication of The Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest African-American newspaper in the United States
1889 The North American magazine publishes Andrew Carnegie's "The Gospel of Wealth"; Edward W. Bok becomes editor of The Ladies' Home Journal, which soon becomes the first American women's magazine to reach a circulation of more than one million.
1890 Lippincott's Magazine, published in Philadelphia, introduces Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes to American readers
1891 Philadelphia magazine publisher Cyrus Curtis, owner of "The Ladies' Home Journal", launches "The Saturday Evening Post", soon the best-selling magazine in the United States.
1891 Philadelphia magazine publisher Cyrus Curtis, owner of The Ladies' Home Journal, launches The Saturday Evening Post, soon the best-selling magazine in the United States.
1899 Publication of The Philadelphia Negro, W.E.B. Du Bois's path-breaking work of urban sociology
1902 Publication of Owen Wister's "The Virginian", the prototype of the modern Western novel
1904 Publication of Ida Tarbell's "The History of the Standard Oil Company", a work of investigative journalism that fuels federal anti-trust prosecution of John D. Rockefeller's oil monopoly.
1910 Publication of The Pittsburgh Survey's "Work Accidents and the Law," the groundbreaking industrial survey used in passage of workmen's compensation legislation in states across the nation.
1911 Publication of Frederick Winslow Taylor's "The Principles of Scientific Management", which explains how “scientific” principles of modern business organization and decision theory will maximize worker productivity and corporate profits
1912 Publication of "Riders of the Purple Sage" marks the first of twelve straight years in which Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania's Zane Grey has a book on the national bestseller list.
1916 H.D. publishes "Sea Garden", the first of her more than a dozen books of poetry.
1924 Publication of "There Is Confusion", the first of Philadelphian Jesse Redmon Fauset's four novels on America's black middle class.
1925 Publication of "The New Negro", edited and with a preface by Philadelphian Alain Locke, the nation’s first African-American Rhodes Scholar; Philadelphia's George Kelly wins a Pulitzer Prize for his play "Craig’s Wife".
1929 Bethlehem's Stephen Vincent Benét wins the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for "John Brown’s Body."
1938 Pearl Buck receives the Nobel Prize for Literature.
1948 James Michener wins his first Pulitzer Prize for his first novel, "Tales of the South Pacific"; Philadelphia Medical publisher W.B. Saunders Company releases Alfred Kinsey's "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male", which unexpectedly becomes a national best seller.
1951 Marianne Moore's "Collected Poems" win poetry's triple crown: the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Bollingen Prize.
1955 Reading Pennsylvania's Wallace Stevens wins the Pulitzer Prize for his "Collected Poems".
1960 Conrad Richter wins the National Book Award for "The Waters of Kronos," a semi-autobiographical novel.
1968 Publication of "The Johnstown Flood" launches David McCullough's career as one of the nation’s most popular and critically acclaimed historical writers.
1981 John Updike wins his first Pulitzer Prize for "Rabbit Is Rich".
2005 Release of "Radio Golf," the last of August Wilson's plays on African-American life set in his hometown of Pittsburgh
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