From 2009 to 2012, the PACSCL/CLIR Hidden Collections Processing Project (clir.pacscl.org) processed 125 archival collections and discovered some of Philadelphia’s real hidden histories. In some cases, we could not believe that what we were reading was true! On October 25, 2011, members of the project team presented these questions to some of Philly’s finest schoolteachers involved in National History Day Philly. Take this quiz and see if you can tell fact from fiction AND learn a little about some amazing real people!
Question 1: Which ONE of the following is true?
- A. Stella Kramrisch, an art historian and curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, had a pet hyena.
- B. Samuel Pennypacker, the 23rd governor of Pennsylvania, loved dogs so much that he had as many as 15 at one time.
- C. Thomas Sully, a 19th century Philadelphia painter, used to bring horses into his tiny studio so he could paint them.
Quesion 2: Which ONE of the following is true?
- A. The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) payed homage to the 1960s hippie movement with a modern ballet entitled “Love Child.” The performance included tie-dyed leotards, long-haired dancers, and even a lead character based on Jerry Garcia.
- B. In its first performance season of 1991, the Koresh Dance Company of Philadelphia celebrated the release of Nirvana’s second album by performing “Smells Like Seattle Spirit.” Dancers were instructed to not wash their hair for several days prior to performance and encouraged to layer their own flannel shirts over their provided costumes.
- C. In the 1980s, the Pennsylvania Ballet added a ballet entitled “Rough Assemblage” to their repertoire. The ballet featured dancers wearing metal-studded leather outfits, sequined combat boots, and Billy Idol inspired hairstyles as well as a musical score inspired by rock music.
Question 3: Which ONE of the following is true?
- A. William Johnson, owner of the Tun Tavern on the Delaware River, used the tavern as a stop on the Underground Railroad to hide escaping slaves during the Civil War. He was caught just before the end of the war and imprisoned until the surrender at Appomattox.
- B. Harry Gold, a South Philadelphian, was a spy for the Soviet Union for fifteen years and provided them with valuable information regarding the atom bomb. Gold defected to the USSR only hours before the United States government arrived at his door to arrest him.
- C. The Conard-Pyle Company, a world famous rose-breeder based in Chester County, may have been involved in some cold war subterfuge. Conard-Pyle used their employee exchange program as a front for sneaking at least one man out of dangerous East Germany and into political asylum in the United States.
Question 4: Which ONE of the following is true?
- A. In 1959, Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet Premier, made a grand tour of the United States. During his stop in Philadelphia, he made a special trip to the Morton section of Germantown to see the newly built public housing units there, hoping for inspiration for similar Soviet housing programs.
- B. A nationally regarded success in urban renewal, Morton, a neighborhood in Philadelphia’s Germantown, was featured at the 1964 World’s Fair as an ideal community.
- C. In the early 1960s, as part of the city’s fledgling urban renewal program, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission partnered on an early urban farming project in Germantown.
Question 5: Which ONE of the following is true?
- A. The family whose letters, documents, and photos make up the Belfield papers aren’t actually called “Belfield.” They are are related to William Penn’s secretary James Logan, Constitution signer John Dickinson, and even Benjamin Franklin himself.
- B. During a religious visit to Scotland in the mid 1700s, two Quakers stayed at a suspicious-looking inn against the advice of their guide. They were scared by strange sounds late in the night and escaped into the woods. Passing by years later, the Quakers discovered that the inn had been destroyed by local villagers who had found the inn-keepers killing and serving up the flesh of their patrons.
- C. Sarah Logan Wister Starr was a powerful figure in the Philadelphia social scene of the 1910s to 1940s, and a feminist who served on the Board of the Women’s Medical College. She protested against the Sesquicentennial celebrations in Philadelphia in 1926 on the grounds that women were unfairly excluded from the planning process.