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New This Week (Dec. 10, 2013)

This week’s additions to our document collections highlight the meaning of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell during the nineteenth century:

  • Officials from Boston and Philadelphia exchanged welcoming speeches in the Hall of Independence in 1854, when the Bostonians came to Philadelphia on a tour to inspect lunatic asylums. [link to document]
  • Newspapers in New Orleans and Philadelphia had vastly different reactions to remarks by Jefferson Davis during the Liberty Bell’s travels to New Orleans in 1885.  The illustration with these documents presents the Liberty Bell as a symbol of meaning for African Americans who had experienced slavery. [link to documents]

Nelson Mandela at Independence Hall

Together with F.W. de Klerk, in 1993 Nelson Mandela was awarded the Freedom Medal in a ceremony at Independence Hall.  His remarks that day are preserved on the website of the National Convention Center: [link here]

New this week (Dec. 1, 2013)

This week’s additions to the Independence Hall in American Memory website include:

  • Case study for teaching: Architecture, Preservation, and Memory [link]
  • Links to teaching resources [link]
  • Document: Workingmen’s demonstration, 1836 [link]
  • Document: Liberty for Europe demonstration (attended also by African Americans), 1848 [link]
  • Documents: Newspaper editorials criticizing the condition of Independence Hall, 1836 [link]
  • Timeline links to documents and external websites [link]

How Did the Hall Gets Its Name?

This week our online documents collection has grown with the addition of news accounts and other primary sources from the Marquis de Lafayette’s visit to Independence Hall in 1824. As Philadelphians prepared to honor the “nation’s guest,” they began to refer to the east room in the old Pennsylvania State House as the Hall of Independence — beginning a transition to the name “Independence Hall” for the building where independence was declared in 1776 and where the Constitutional Convention met in 1787.  For teachers and researchers interested in this topic, primary sources from the work of the Lafayette Reception Committee are in the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

History in Jeopardy

Although I am not a regular viewer of Jeopardy, I paid attention this week when Alex Trebek announced the category: Independence National Historical Park. Then I watched as the contestants — this week, teachers — selected every other category on the board first.  When almost all of the choices were gone, they turned to Independence. Through the clues filmed on-site, we got a quick glimpses of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Franklin Post Office, and the First Bank of the United States. The teachers ultimately answered most of the questions correctly — but their hesitation to venture into the category makes me wonder if history is in jeopardy in more ways than one.

Presidential Addresses

Presidential commemorations are in the forefront of the news this week as we approach the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (November 19) and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy (November 22). Like many other American presidents, both gave speeches at Independence Hall and measured the challenges of their times against the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. To read these and other presidential speeches at Independence Hall, click here.