UPDATED: Oct 19, 2019
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Pennsylvania is one of the oldest states in the United States of America and it has a long and interesting history as well as a vibrant and exciting culture that continues today. Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was one of the thirteen original colonies and played an important part in the American Revolution. Today, Pennsylvania is home to a wide variety of people, prestigious universities and schools, international companies, and successful sports franchises, all making up the fascinating and important state!
According to the 2010 census, Pennsylvania has a population of nearly thirteen million, and a population density of around 284 people per square mile. Philadelphia, the capital of Pennsylvania, is the sixth largest city in the United States and has a population of approximately 1.5 million, a number that has increased by about 79,000 in the past ten years. Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and is home to many historical sites from the Colonial Era, American Revolution, and more.
- The Center for Rural Pennsylvania: Rural/Urban PA
- The Pew Charitable Trusts: Philadelphia 2017: the state of the city
History of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania may have been first visited by Europeans in the late 1490s, but the area was definitely visited by Captain John Smith in 1608, and was certainly populated by a variety of Native American tribes. In 1681, as payment for an $80,000 debt, Charles II granted the area that is now Pennsylvania to William Penn, who originally called it New Wales. When Welsh members of Parliament objected, Charles II renamed the territory Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia was founded in 1682, and quickly grew into the largest city in colonial America. It was a logical choice for the First and Second Constitutional Congresses, and was the capital of the United States during the 1790s. Philadelphia was also the birthplace of the first university in America, the University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1749. It became the second state in 1787.
Pennsylvania was also a key site during the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the most significant battles of the Civil War and a key turning point for the Union victory, as well as the battle with the most casualties in the entire Civil War. Gettysburg is now a museum and historical site that can and should be visited in Pennsylvania.
- USHistory.org: Pennsylvania 1630-1700
- PBS: Fast facts about Philadelphia
- Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission: 1681-1776: the Quaker province
- Civil War Trust: Gettysburg battlefield
Quotes about Pennsylvania
The state motto of Pennsylvania is “Virtue, Liberty, & Independence,” and appears on the state Coat of Arms and flag as well as on the statehood quarter. Pennsylvanians have been described as hard-working, and has long been an example of religious tolerance after the state’s founding as a Quaker center in colonial America, with colonist Gabriel Thomas describing Pennsylvania as, “…free for all Persuasions, in a Sober and Civil way; for the Church of England and the Quakers bear equal Share in the Government. They live Friendly and Well together; there is no Persecution for Religion, nor ever like to be.” Pennsylvania is also the setting for many books, films, television shows, plays, and songs.
- State Symbols USA: Pennsylvania state motto
- National Humanities Center: Divining America: Religious toleration in quotations, 1644-1789
Pennsylvania Genealogy Sites
For those looking to research genealogy in Pennsylvania, there are a wide variety of resources available. Genealogy is very interesting in Pennsylvania because it has such a long and unique history. Many of its founding families can trace their genealogy back to pre-colonial times, and there is great interest in tracing that history. There are many resources and special projects devoted to genealogy in Pennsylvania, and many societies, libraries, and archives are open to the public wanting to research their family history.
- Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania: Research requests and visiting GSP
- Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society: About us
Museums and Historical Sites
As a state with a long history, Pennsylvania has a wealth of historical sites, resources, and museums. Many famous sites, such as the Liberty Bell, which rang in the Pennsylvania State House, and famously cracked in its first ringing, and Independence Hall, where both the Declaration and Independence and US Constitution were signed, are found in Pennsylvania, and there are several major museums in the state, containing art from ancient artifacts to modern masterpieces.
- The National Park Service: The Liberty Bell
- Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts: The museum
- Philadelphia Museum of Art: Plan your visit
- Carnegie Museum of Art: Visit
Pennsylvania History for Kids
Pennsylvania history can also be fun for kids! Beyond learning about the history of the United States, the American Revolution, and more; kids can also learn about the way governments work, about art, other cultures and religions, and other topics of interest! Pennsylvania also has a wide variety of wildlife and several great parks and wildlife reserves for kids to learn about nature, conservation, and pre-historical archaeological finds.
- National Geographic Kids: Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: Pennsylvania state parks
As Pennsylvania has such a long history, there are many historical societies and historical resources in the state. Historical societies are important in keeping the long history of Pennsylvania alive today. These historical societies serve an important purpose for researchers and residents alike. These societies also put on events and lectures to educate the public and keep Pennsylvania history in everyone’s thoughts.
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania: Collections
- Chester County Historical Society: About
- Germantown Historical Society: Museum
Regional Pennsylvania Resources
Pennsylvania has a lot of regional resources for history buffs, researchers, and more. Although it has a long history, it is also a bustling, thriving state with a diverse and interesting population. It is closely connected to the entire Northeast, and is home to several major companies and corporations. Regional resources are important for both residents and visitors.
- Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners: About the Philadelphia city commissioners
- City of Lancaster, PA: Home
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