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Moravians

In the eighteenth century, the Moravian church grew from a small group of Protestant dissenters in Germany to a global church with its most important American center at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, about fifty miles northwest of Philadelphia. The Moravians were best known for their experiments in communal living and their global missions, including a number of missions to Native Americans. In 1762, they significantly altered the character of their communal experiment at Bethlehem and in later years modified or abandoned some of their most distinctive characteristics. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they continued their global mission, even as the church in the United States (by then a mainline Protestant denomination) remained small.

[caption id="attachment_34527" align="alignright" width="223"] Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a German noble from Saxony, was instrumental in founding and spreading Moravianism in Europe and America during the eighteenth century. (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption]

The Moravians’ origins go back to 1722, when a German nobleman, Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf (1700-60), allowed a small group of Protestant dissenters from Bohemia and Moravia to settle on his land in Saxony. These dissenters, called the Unitas Fratrum, drew inspiration from the Czech reformer Jan Hus (1369-1415) and other Protestants and had faced persecution from Catholic authorities. Zinzendorf became the most influential and powerful Moravian leader of the eighteenth century. Ordained as a Lutheran minister in 1735 and consecrated as a Moravian bishop in 1737, Zinzendorf and his followers believed that God wanted them to send missionaries around the world. As part of that effort, in 1741 Zinzendorf traveled to Pennsylvania, where the Moravians founded Bethlehem. The town grew rapidly from only 131 settlers in 1741 to more than 1,200 Moravians in Bethlehem and the surrounding region by 1753. Other distinctively Moravian communities followed, including Nazareth, Gnadenthal, and Christiansbrunn in Pennsylvania and Wachovia in North Carolina. Other Moravians settled in largely non-Moravian areas, including Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere.

In the eighteenth century, Bethlehem served two purposes–it was designed both as a model community whose members were devoted to God and as the home base and economic support for local and global missionary efforts. The Moravians purchased thousands of acres of land and became successful farmers. They also engaged in skilled trades, including blacksmithing, carpentry, and pottery making. During the first twenty years of the settlement (1741-62), Moravian workers at Bethlehem drew no wages. The church provided their food, clothing, and housing, and they saw themselves as working for the glory of God and the support of the Moravian missionary effort.

Separation of the Sexes

During these years, the residents of Bethlehem lived in same-sex communal housing and worked in communally owned enterprises. Church members lived, prayed, and worked in a number of cohorts, or “choirs,” with others of the same sex and similar age. Moravian leaders believed that this system, which kept men and women separated at nearly all times, reduced the likelihood of sexual sin and encouraged both men and women to focus their attention on God.

[caption id="attachment_34528" align="alignright" width="300"] The Moravian settlement of Bethlehem served as a base for followers as they expanded their faith and mission work. (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption]

Although newcomers to America in the 1740s, Moravians shared in the emotional fervor of the First Great Awakening, a series of Protestant revivals that spanned the colonies. Like other evangelicals, the Moravians emphasized conversion, moral living, and a personal and heartfelt relationship with Christ. Moravians corresponded with the Methodist leaders John Wesley (1703-91) and Charles Wesley (1707-88) and even purchased land from the itinerant evangelist George Whitefield (1714-70), although Whitefield eventually rejected the Moravians because they did not believe in predestination, the belief that God had already chosen who would be saved and who would be damned.

Although the Moravians shared many beliefs with other evangelicals, they also had distinctive ideas and customs that set them apart. Zinzendorf encouraged a simple, childlike faith and trust in God and a mystical devotion to Jesus, focusing particularly on Jesus’s love and self-sacrifice for humanity. Moravian prayers and hymns invited worshippers to contemplate the wounds of Christ and to regard themselves (men and women alike) as the brides of Christ. Moravians considered the wound in Jesus’s side particularly significant, viewing it as a mystical opening where believers could shelter and as a gate to heaven. Another distinctive characteristic was the practice of submitting important questions to “the Lot.” Moravians believed that God directed all earthly affairs, and there was therefore no such thing as chance or luck. Before making important decisions (such as those regarding marriages, church membership, and the choosing of ministers), the Moravians drew lots. In setting up the draw, one slip of paper gave an affirmative answer, a second one a negative answer, and a third one was left blank. If the blank one was drawn, no action would be taken at the time, but the question could be resubmitted at a later date.

Zinzendorf and his fellow Moravians believed that men and women of all nations and peoples could be saved. As a result, in the eighteenth century they sent missionaries to many places, including Africa, the Caribbean, the British Isles, Scandinavia, and across the British colonies in America. In America, they hoped both to encourage unity among Protestant Christians, and to convert African slaves and Native Americans.

Unity Proves Elusive

The quest for unity among Protestants proved elusive. Believing that true Christians could be found in all churches, Zinzendorf hoped to dissolve denominational boundaries. His vision soon led to conflict between the Moravians and other German Christians in Pennsylvania. In 1742, Zinzendorf (an ordained Lutheran clergyman) was invited to preach to the Lutheran congregation in Philadelphia. His preaching was so powerful that the Lutherans asked him to become their pastor. He accepted, although his leadership would divide the congregation. To avoid further dissension, Zinzendorf and his followers left the congregation and Zinzendorf founded a new church near Bread and Race Streets, shared by Lutherans and Moravians. Zinzendorf also arranged a series of meetings or synods between Moravians and other German Christians. Seven synods took place between January and June 1742 in Philadelphia, Germantown, and elsewhere in Pennsylvania. Although more than a hundred representatives of various denominations attended the first synod in Germantown, the delegates found Zinzendorf overbearing and feared that he wanted to absorb the other churches into the Moravians. As a result, the later synods were poorly attended. Zinzendorf’s dream of uniting German Christians in America had failed.

[caption id="attachment_34529" align="alignright" width="300"] Early Moravian missionaries were unusually effective in converting local Native Americans to their faith, unlike many other Protestant missionaries in the region. Their success was predicated on an acceptance and understanding of Indigenous cultures, languages, and customs, which other white settlers found to be discomforting. (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption]

The Moravians hoped for converts across the world, but those in Pennsylvania sought especially to convert Native Americans, which led to tensions between Moravians and other white settlers. Important Moravian missionaries included Johann Pyrlaeus (1713-85), David Zeisberger (1721-1808), and John Heckewelder (1743-1823). Moravian missionaries had more success than most other Protestant missionaries due to a number of factors, including their efforts to become fluent in Native American languages, their respect for Indian cultures, and their emphasis on the love of God. In evaluating potential converts, they looked more for a sense of sin and unworthiness, a love of God, and moral living rather than doctrinal precision. Moravian missionaries worked among the Mahican and Delaware Indians north of Philadelphia and in the Susquehanna Valley. They also sent missionaries to multiethnic towns, including Shamokin. In 1746, the Moravians founded a mission town called Gnadenhütten, some thirty miles from Bethlehem. By 1753, it was home to about 125 Delawares and Mahicans.

In the 1760s, however, the Moravian missions to the Indians foundered in the face of increasing hostility in the backcountry between whites and Indians. In 1763, the Delaware leader Teedyuscung (1700-63), who had once lived at Gnadenhütten, was murdered by unknown assailants. Later in the year, several Moravian Indians were killed, and this event (and others like it) set off a cycle of revenge killing among Indians and whites from Pennsylvania to Virginia. By November 1763, the colonial government feared that the Paxton Boys, vigilantes hostile toward both the Indians and the Moravians, intended to massacre backcountry Indians. The government demanded that Indians living at Bethlehem, Nazareth, and elsewhere report to Philadelphia. The Indians were imprisoned there, first on Province Island and then in disused army barracks for a year and a half. Even Moravian Indians who were full members of the Bethlehem community were forced to move. The Indians suffered from hunger and disease during their imprisonment, and by the time they were freed (in March 1765), fifty-six of the approximately 140 captives had died. After leaving Philadelphia, the survivors were not permitted to return to their homes. They were resettled near Wyalusing, in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania, where they established a town called Friedenshütten. This community, however, was short-lived, as the inhabitants were forced to move west in the 1780s under the twin threat of white and Iroquois expansion.

Complications of Pacifism

During the American Revolution, Pennsylvania Moravians faced serious difficulties. As pacifists and largely apolitical, they believed Christians should submit to legitimate authority. This made them unpopular with their patriot neighbors, who already distrusted them because of the Moravians’ good relationship with local Indians. During the war, the government of Pennsylvania forced Moravians to pay taxes and fines for their refusal to serve in the military, and the patriots demanded supplies from them. The General Hospital of the American Army was located at Bethlehem from December 1776 to March 1777 and from September 1777 to June 1778. The Americans also stored military equipment there.

[caption id="attachment_34530" align="alignright" width="300"] The establishment of the first Philadelphia Moravian church in 1742 coincided with fervent determination to convert local Native American tribes. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)[/caption]

By the end of the 1700s, the Moravians had lost much of their former distinctiveness. Due to debt and economic difficulties, they abandoned their communal economy at Bethlehem in 1762 and after the American Revolution grew to resemble other German Christian groups. In Philadelphia, the original congregation, located near Bread and Race Streets, began performing all services in English in 1817. (Previously, services had been held both in German and English.) In 1856, the congregation moved to a new church at Wood and Franklin Streets.

In Pennsylvania, Bethlehem remained the center of Moravian life. Nineteenth-century Moravians, like their predecessors, continued to sponsor missionary work, with missionary societies founded in 1818, 1840, and 1849. They also focused on education. The Moravians founded separate schools for boys and girls in the eighteenth century, and these gradually developed into the Moravian College and Theological Seminary (founded in Nazareth in 1807, relocated to Bethlehem in 1858) and the Bethlehem Female Seminary (1863). The men’s and women’s institutions merged in 1954 to form Moravian College

Bethlehem’s Accessibility Grows

[caption id="attachment_34531" align="alignright" width="300"] Built in 1892, Comenius Hall became the center of the campus which would develop into the Moravian College and Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption]

Nineteenth-century Moravians were also touched by events in the outside world. Economic change and the development of industry brought canals and railroads to Bethlehem, strengthening its ties to the outside world and leading to greater Americanization. In the case of warfare, for example, early Moravians had been pacifists who resisted service in the American Revolution. At the outbreak of the War of 1812, Moravians hotly debated the question of military service, but the Elders’ Conference ruled that a man who voluntarily joined the militia did not forfeit his membership in the church. During the Civil War, several students and two professors left the Moravian College and Theological Seminary to enlist.

In the twentieth century, the main developments of the church took place elsewhere, as the church expanded in the South, the Midwest, Canada, and overseas. As of 2018, the worldwide Moravian church was divided into twenty-four Provinces, nine of which were located in North America and the Caribbean. The Moravian church also evolved into a mainline Protestant denomination. Ecumenically-minded from the beginning, the Moravian church continued to teach that true Christians can be found in all denominations. In the twenty-first century, the church entered into full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Episcopal Church, and the United Methodist Church, in 2000, 2010, 2011 and 2018, respectively.

Bethlehem, which lies within the North American Northern Province, remained the home of Moravian College, a liberal arts institution, and Moravian Theological Seminary, an ecumenical seminary offering master’s degrees in Divinity, Theological Studies, Chaplaincy, and Clinical Counseling. As of 2007, Bethlehem had six Moravian churches, with an estimated total membership of about 3,300, and Moravian congregations also existed in Philadelphia and in Cinnaminson and Riverside, New Jersey. 

Martha K. Robinson is an Associate Professor of History at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Her publications include “New Worlds, New Medicines: Indian Remedies and English Medicine in Early America,” Early American Studies 3 (Spring 2005): 94-110.

Dinosaurs and Paleontology (Study of Fossils and Prehistoric Life)

The Philadelphia area has played a major part in paleontology, the study of past life through fossils, yielding discoveries that have helped to illuminate millions of years of existence. In the early 1800s, Philadelphia became the birthplace of vertebrate paleontology, the study of ancient back-boned animals, and the Academy of Natural Sciences became a hub for paleontological work. The unearthing of the first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton in Haddonfield, New Jersey, in 1858, sparked interest in dinosaurs across North America. Since then, research and excavations conducted in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, have continued to yield fossils and knowledge about ancient life.

[caption id="attachment_34492" align="alignright" width="208"] Joseph Leidy, a Philadelphia anatomist, unearthed the first full dinosaur skeleton and later made contributions to several different fields of study. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)[/caption]

Fossil discovery has been more difficult in the Mid-Atlantic than in the western United States because of vegetation and less exposed sedimentary rock. Nevertheless, in 1838 a crew digging in Haddonfield for marl, which was used in fertilizer, also found fossils on the farm of John Estaugh Hopkins (1811-84). In 1858, Hopkins hosted William Parker Foulke (1816-65), a Philadelphia lawyer and supporter of scientific expeditions, who saw Hopkins’ specimens and came back to the area to find more that same year. Foulke along with Joseph Leidy (1823-91), a Philadelphia anatomist from the University of Pennsylvania and the Academy of Natural Sciences, unearthed and preserved the first almost-complete dinosaur skeleton found in the world. After the skeleton was constructed, Leidy named it Hadrosaurus foulkii, in honor of Foulke. The Hadrosaurus was a type of duck-billed dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period (97-65 million years ago). In 1868, the Hadrosaurus foulkii became the first dinosaur skeleton exhibited at the Academy of Natural Sciences, and on June 13, 1991, it became the official dinosaur for the State of New Jersey. 

[caption id="attachment_34271" align="alignright" width="300"] The Academy of Natural Sciences, shown here at its Broad and Sansom streets location (building at left, 1840-76), acted as a vital benefactor for the expansion of paleontology as a discipline. (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption]

American vertebrate paleontology originated in Philadelphia through the work of the American Philosophical Society (founded in 1743) and the Academy of Natural Sciences (founded in 1812). The Philosophical Society helped support the Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) and William Clark (1770-1838) expedition to the west in 1804-6, which brought back one of the first fossils from the American West. At the academy, Leidy and Edward Drinker Cope (1840-97) helped to grow paleontology as a science as they worked to identify and describe the plethora of fossils found in western North America. Over time, Leidy and Cope identified dinosaurs and other fossils from all over North America. The academy’s fossil collections grew to include some of Cope’s collection, the fossil that Lewis and Clark discovered, the Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Fossil Collection, and the first dinosaur fossils found in North America. Identifications made by Cope and Leidy, among other early paleontologists, laid the foundational understanding of prehistoric life in North America. 

Fossil Supergroups

Discoveries of dinosaur fossils continued in southern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania during the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Not long after the Hadrosaurus find came the discovery of a fossil of the tyrannosaurid Dryptosaurus, a carnivore, in Barnsboro, New Jersey, in 1866. The rock formations known as the Newark Supergroup, running from southeast Pennsylvania through New Jersey and into Connecticut, also yielded discoveries. In 1905, Gilbert van Ingen (1869-1925) and William J. Sinclair (1877-1935) uncovered the oldest known tetrapod fossil from the Newark Supergroup in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The fossil, Calamops paludosus, a large tetrapod amphibian, dated to the late Triassic period (235-208 million years ago) and was closely related to long-snouted trematosaurs found all over the world. Excavators also found another type of amphibian, the metoposaurs, in the Newark Supergroup, in central New Jersey, and in Chester and York Counties in Pennsylvania.

[caption id="attachment_34273" align="alignright" width="300"] Hadrosaurus remains were first found in Haddonfield, New Jersey, in 1858. Since then, there have been statewide discoveries of the creature designated as New Jersey’s official state dinosaur. (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption]

Dinosaur fossils also emerged from the Inversand Company quarries of Sewell, New Jersey, including a duck-billed Hadrosaurus minor, found in 1947 and identified in 1948, and a fragment of a Hadrosaurus in 1957. Two skulls of Mosasaurus maximus were discovered at the site in 1961. Mosasaurus, a 40-foot aquatic reptile, was abundant in New Jersey. The Inversand pits yielded additional fragments of Hadrosaurus fossils in 1980, 1988, and 1991. 

The 1980s yielded many dinosaur finds in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and elsewhere on the East Coast due in part to groups like the Delaware Valley Paleontological Society (which began meeting in 1978) and the New Jersey State Museum (founded in 1895). In 1980, Robert K. Denton Jr. and Robert C. O’Neill found a site at Crosswicks Creek in Ellisdale, New Jersey, with fossils of bony fishes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles, mammals, and dinosaurs dating to the late Cretaceous period. A large rainstorm in March 1984 washed away enough layers of sediment for Denton and O’Neill to discover more than three hundred fossils, and more than ten thousand additional fossils uncovered thereafter included small fragments of bones from the duck-billed Hadrosaurus and Hypsibema and from the tyrannosaurid Dryptosaurus. Fragments of Deinosuchus, a giant crocodile, have also been uncovered.

Construction Site Discoveries

[caption id="attachment_34272" align="alignright" width="300"] Construction work has helped to uncover many dinosaur species, such as the Grallator, a small three-toed, bipedal dinosaur. (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption]

Construction sites also produced discoveries of dinosaurs and other reptiles. On November 9, 1981, workers building the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, uncovered eighteen rock slabs bearing footprints from two species: the theropod dinosaur Grallator and Chirotherium, a Triassic archosaur that resembled a crocodile. Dredging of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in Delaware between 1982 and 1985 brought up many fossils, including hadrosaurids and ornithomimosaurs (theropods that resembled modern ostriches and emus) from the late Cretaceous period. In 1993, construction at the Graterford State Correctional Institution of Montgomery County yielded more than one hundred footprints left behind by the Triassic (245-208 million years ago) theropods Grallator and Atreipus. Some of the other footprints belonged to Rhynchosauroides and Gwyneddichnium, two Triassic archosaurs (related to modern birds and crocodiles). 

The New Jersey State Museum conducted expeditions in the 1980s to other regions to help map and preserve dinosaur fossil sites. In two expeditions in 1986 and 1989, the museum conducted digs in Phoebus Landing, North Carolina. Fossils of the marine reptile Tylosaurus, the theropods Dryptosaurus and Ceolosaurus, the hadrosaurid Hypsibema, and the crocodilian Deinosuchus were discovered in the rock layers there. The museum, through the work of William B. Gallagher, also examined New Jersey’s K-T Boundary (Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary), the rock layer marking the time when the dinosaurs were believed to have gone extinct. The investigation showed that the large dinosaurs in New Jersey, like the Dryptosaurus, had died out by the time the layer formed because no fossils were found above that line. The rock layer also documented that sea creatures, like ammonites, died out around the same time, which allowed other sea creatures, like nautilids, to expand and thrive. 

[caption id="attachment_34274" align="alignright" width="300"] The New Jersey State Museum has helped fund crucial excavation expeditions and boasts a collection of over 250,000 dinosaur specimens. (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption]

During the early twenty-first century, the Academy of Natural Sciences continued to play a national and international role in paleontology by leading paleontological exploration in the Catskill Formation in northern Pennsylvania and as far north as the Okse Bay Group found in the Nunavut Territory of Canada. The fossils in these areas dated to the late Devonian period (409-363 million years ago), long before dinosaurs. New fossil discoveries have yielded more clues about the evolution of early limbed animals (early tetrapods) from even earlier aquatic species. Many of these fossil specimens came to Philadelphia to be cleaned, curated, and studied. The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and the New Jersey State Museum continued to collect fossils from all over the world. By the twenty-first century, the academy’s fossil collection exceeded twenty-two thousand specimens, and the New Jersey State Museum housed about 250,000, including three hundred that were some of the earliest discovered fossils from the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras (542-65 million years ago). Skilled technicians called preparators, used dental tools, carbide needles, and weak acid to clear away the rock from fossils. Many of the fossils were examined through X-ray and CT scans, then casts were created, and the fossils were preserved for study. 

Discovered fossils and fossil sites have played a role in public education as well as academic research. In 2012, the Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University in Sewell, New Jersey, opened to the public at the former Inversand Quarry and offered archaeological digs and paleontology programs. Fossils found there, dating to the Cretaceous Period (146-65 million years ago), included specimens of shelled creatures like brachiopods, marine snails, and sea turtles. Larger specimens included fossils from bony fish, marine crocodiles, and mosasaurs. Like Fossil Park, the Academy of Natural Science’s Dinosaur Hall offered visitors a paleontology experience with the opportunity to see thirty prehistoric species, including the tri-horned Chasmosaurus and the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex. The academy also created a “Big Dig” exhibit to allow young people to learn how to dig for fossils and a video with green screen that enabled visitors to place themselves in a virtual world of dinosaurs. At the New Jersey State Museum, exhibits like the Fossil Park and Academy educated visitors about specific dinosaur species like the marine reptile, Mosasaurus maximus.  The riches of museums such as the Academy of Natural Sciences and the New Jersey State Museum reflected the region’s significance as a center for paleontology and the public’s continuing fascination with dinosaurs and other prehistoric life.

Austin Wisser graduated with a Master of Arts in the Applied History Program from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and holds a bachelor’s degree in teaching seventh to twelfth-grade social studies from the same university. He is the author of “In Defense: One German-Language Newspaper’s Promotion of German-American Culture and Ideals During World War I,” published by the Lackawanna Historical Society. (Information current at date of publication.)

Austin Wisser

Austin Wisser graduated with a Master of Arts in the Applied History Program from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and holds a bachelor’s degree in teaching seventh to twelfth-grade social studies from the same university. He is the author of “In Defense: One German-Language Newspaper’s Promotion of German-American Culture and Ideals During World War I,” published by the Lackawanna Historical Society.

Seventh-day Adventists

Seventh-day Adventism, one among several uniquely American-born Christian traditions, resulted from the religious fervor and innovations of the Second Great Awakening (c. 1795-1830), which generated schisms in established churches and plantings of new religious associations across the United States, including Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley region.

[caption id="attachment_34158" align="alignright" width="199"] Ellen G. White was a main founder of the Seventh-day Adventist faith, and many of her prophetic visions and books have become pillars of the faith. (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption]

The Adventist movement began as an offshoot of the Millerite movement that spread over much of the United States in the early 1840s. An apocalyptic, millenarian community, Millerites adhered to New York farmer William Miller’s (1782-1849) scriptural calculations for the Second Coming of Christ, which was to occur in 1843-44. When Christ did not return, the inaccuracy of Miller’s predictions became known as the “Great Disappointment” and led to a splintering of the movement. A faction of remaining Adventists—those who continued to believe in an imminent return of Christ—formed a new community under the direction of spiritual visionary Ellen Gould Harmon White (1827-1915), her husband James White (1821-81), fellow revivalist Joseph Bates (1792-1872), and Hiram Edson (1806-82), whose views of the Second Coming became foundational in Adventist theology. Using Ellen White’s prophetic visions for salvation and seventh day (Saturday) worship as their guide, Adventists established a formal church in 1863 with the creation of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

With roots in the Methodist and Baptist camp meeting culture of the “burned over” district in western and central New York, the new Adventist movement preached and practiced active evangelism. Missionary efforts by the Whites and their followers led to small communities of like-minded Adventists in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and over the course of the next century, in the Midwest, western United States, and abroad as a global church. As membership increased, congregations were established, with local conferences or missions overseeing matters of Church polity, and union conferences or missions serving as regional authorities and grouped under large divisions.

[caption id="attachment_34161" align="alignright" width="300"] Seventh-day Adventist representatives pose in this 1919 photograph at one of the most controversial and ideologically turbulent conferences ever held within the faith. (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption]

Since its establishment in 1907, the Columbia Union Conference has overseen the Mid-Atlantic region, encompassing Adventist communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the Chesapeake region, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. By some estimations, the Pennsylvania conference and missions within the Columbia Union organized as early as 1851 under the direction of Hiram Edson and early Adventist missionary and former Millerite J.N. Andrews (1829-83). After more than two decades of evangelizing efforts, the Pennsylvania conference grew to more than one thousand members in over three dozen churches. In the century and a half since its inception, it expanded to include nearly one hundred churches, and more than ten thousand members.

Chesapeake and New Jersey Heritage

Companion conferences in the Chesapeake region and New Jersey likewise claimed ties to early Adventist missionaries like Joseph Bates, who visited the Chesapeake area in the 1850s. The Chesapeake Conference officially organized in 1899 and included Delaware, much of Maryland, and the District of Columbia. It subsequently expanded to a conference of more than seventy churches and fifteen thousand members. The New Jersey Conference quickly followed suit, organizing in 1901, and since that time developing into a region exceeding seventy-five churches and ten thousand members. In the late nineteenth century, Adventist missionaries in the Columbia Union Conference competed in particular with Catholics and Methodists for converts in the religious marketplace.

[caption id="attachment_34163" align="alignright" width="241"] The Seventh-day Adventist faith has a strong connection with the Philadelphia area and has established many churches in the area, such as the First Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church at City Line and Edwards Roads, featured in this 1962 photograph. (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries)[/caption]

The Adventist movement has had a unique connection with “Philadelphia,” as the Pennsylvania city shares that name with one of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation (3:7). After the Millerite Great Disappointment of 1844, a contingent of Adventists believed themselves to be the fulfillment of that church—a chosen 144,000, who were marked by God for salvation. In this early period some inhabitants of Philadelphia and Baltimore hoped to be among these chosen few, attending revivalist camp meetings in the surrounding area as early as 1844. As the tradition grew, Ellen White’s visions often mentioned Philadelphia by name, along with New York, Boston, New Orleans, Cincinnati, and San Francisco—all viewed as urban centers of sin and corruption. Missionary efforts were concentrated in these areas, preaching temperance and health reform for spiritual purification, with a tent meeting in New Market, Virginia, in 1876. Though initially small, missions in Philadelphia gained strength with the establishment of the Columbia Union Conference, which convened there for the first time in 1907.

Service and missions have been at the core of Adventist practice and identity, with special attention to health and wellness, education, and civil rights. In its outreach, the church has used Adventist media outlets like the Adventist Review (established as The Present Truth in 1849) and Hope television channel (started in 2003). Adventist health missions have remained grounded in White’s 1863 vision for health reform, in which the prophetess called for vegetarianism, the avoidance of tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol, and regular exercise and hydration. 

Battle Creek Sanitarium

[caption id="attachment_34162" align="alignright" width="225"] John Harvey Kellogg was a staunch Seventh-day Adventist and directed one of the first health resorts that promoted Adventist health philosophies. (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption]

In preparation for Christ’s return, “God’s diet” and wellness reforms were made available to Adventists and non-Adventists alike when the Whites and fellow Adventist John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943) opened the Western Health Reform Institute (later the Battle Creek Sanitarium) in Michigan in 1866. The popularity of the “San” led to the construction of several more sanitariums in the U.S. and abroad, paving the way for a robust global Adventist hospital system. In Pennsylvania, the Adventist Whole Health Network continued this mission of the early church, offering community wellness programs mirroring White’s early visions for holistic health care.

Adventist children’s ministries have followed a comprehensive approach to education, stressing spiritual, physical, and academic growth. The church opened primary schools as early as the 1870s, with secondary schools, junior colleges, boarding schools, four-year colleges/universities, and medical schools following soon after. In the greater Philadelphia area, this has included primary and secondary schools in the Lehigh Valley and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as well as in Wilmington, Delaware, and Trenton, New Jersey.

In the decades following Ellen White’s death in 1915, the structure of the church shifted through publications like the Working Policy (1926) and the Church Manual (1932). Outlining matters of governance and organization, these policies led to an evolution in the tradition, with increased growth in churches through the 1930s and 1940s. This resulted in the formation of churches inside and outside of urban areas and the organization in 1945 of predominantly black Adventist churches in the Allegheny Conference East, which by the twenty-first century included several principally Hispanic congregations as well. The conference developed in size to nearly one hundred churches with more than thirty thousand members, including the Ebenezer Seventh-day Adventist Church in Philadelphia (established in 1931). This diversity in the church extended to Adventist converts in the Philadelphia area from Korea, Indonesia, Ghana, Brazil, Hungary, and Haiti.

From the beginning, the Adventist movement strongly advocated for service, both for followers and non-Adventists. Urban charities and missions in the Philadelphia region have provided vegetarian meals to those in need after Sunday services; offered community Bible studies, ESL courses, and health screenings at low or no cost; participated in disaster relief; actively supported new congregations in the process of “church planting”; and, through the volunteer-based Arise and Build program, erected new church structures for budding congregations in need. From a small denominational sect of roughly 3,500 in 1863, the Adventist tradition grew by 2019 into a global church of nearly twenty-five million.

Emily Bailey is Assistant Professor of Christian Traditions and Religions in the Americas at Towson University, Towson, Maryland.

Wanamaker Organ

Originally designed for the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904, the organ purchased by John Wanamaker (1838-1922) for his unprecedented Philadelphia department store at Thirteenth and Market Streets expanded over time to produce the sound power of three symphony orchestras. Regarded as the largest playable instrument in the world, the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ remained a highlight of the Center City store that became Macy’s in 2006.

[caption id="attachment_33918" align="alignright" width="235"] John Wanamaker, featured in this 1915 photograph, purchased the organ to add music and spectacle to the shopping experience in his innovative department store. (Library of Congress)[/caption]

Renowned artist and architect George Ashdown Audsley (1838-1925) designed the organ, which was built by the Los Angeles Art Organ Company for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (the St. Louis World’s Fair), held from April 30 to December 1, 1904. Construction of the organ cost $105,000—a 2018 value of approximately $2,824,521—which eventually bankrupted the builder. For the duration of the fair, the organ entertained fairgoers with grandiose musical performances in Festival Hall. However, after the fair, plans to have it permanently installed at the Kansas City Convention Center or exhibited at Coney Island fell through, and the organ languished in storage, unused for the next five years.

Wanamaker went to great lengths to implement innovative policies and architectural features in his store, not only to draw customers but more importantly to ensure their satisfaction with their overall experience. After attending the St. Louis fair, he purchased Germany’s six-foot, six-inch bronze eagle by August Gaul (1869-1921)—an emblem of craftsmanship—to display in the store. A firm believer in the ability of music to improve employee and shopper disposition and store atmosphere, Wanamaker proceeded to purchase the organ in 1909. Transporting it to Philadelphia required thirteen freight cars and, along with other improvements and renovations to the store, it took two years to complete installation of the organ in the store’s 149-foot-high, marble-clad center, the Grand Court of Honor. John’s son Rodman Wanamaker (1863–1928) considered the store—an architectural marvel of its era—the ideal place for the “finest organ in the world.” Wanamaker’s official opening of the newly remodeled store and the Wanamaker Organ’s dedication in 1911 drew a crowd of over forty thousand people, including President William Howard Taft (1857-1930).

[caption id="attachment_33919" align="alignright" width="248"] Lewis Rodman Wanamaker, John Wanamaker’s son who took over the business in 1922, was a dedicated patron of the arts and oversaw two massive expansions of the organ during his lifetime. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)[/caption]

As an advocate for the arts, Rodman (like his father) believed that music would improve the experiences of both shoppers and employees; however, even with its more than 10,000 pipes, Rodman deemed the organ insufficient in size and sonority to fill the Grand Court with its warm music. He ordered an extensive enlargement, resulting in 17,222 pipes by 1917. To increase organ-expansion efficiency, an organ shop was built in the attic of the two-million-square-feet building and employed a full-time staff of organ builders. Subsequent expansions eventually produced a 287-ton organ with almost 29,000 pipes ranging from 1 inch to 32 feet in length. Although the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ’s ultimate size fell about 2,000 pipes short of the total of the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Wanamaker organ remained 100 percent operational and thus became recognized as the largest playable instrument in the world. Most organs of its size and age deteriorated over time; the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ, for example, maintained 50 percent functionality.

With its 466 stops (ranks of pipes), the Wanamaker organ could reproduce the sound of numerous string and woodwind instruments and horns, including but not limited to violins, cellos, flutes, oboes, clarinets, French horns, tubas, and trombones, giving it the ability to produce the all-encompassing sound power of three entire symphonies. Over the years, famous organists sought to play classical as well as signature pieces written specifically for the organ, including Charles M. Courboin (1884–1973), the organist from 1919 to 1929 for evening concerts, special events, and performances accompanied by the Philadelphia Orchestra. A favorite among the Wanamaker organists, he oversaw the second enlargement of the organ in 1924.

[caption id="attachment_33921" align="alignright" width="300"] The expansion and renovation of the Wanamaker organ, along with its extensive programs, have ensured its place as a staple destination for tourists and families. (Photograph by Breanna Ransome for The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia)[/caption]

The organ shop in the store continued to maintain and improve the organ, aided by a volunteer restoration team. However, after Rodman Wanamaker died, ownership of the store changed multiple times and the organ fell into disrepair. The Friends of the Wanamaker Organ, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the organ’s history and prominence, formed in 1991 to provide tours and information and to raise funds for organ maintenance. Wanamaker Organ Day, an annual free post-Memorial Day concert, began in 1994 and featured guest performers who conducted several concerts throughout the day with supplementary brass and percussion instruments and a chorus.

Macy’s continued to carry out many of the Wanamaker Organ traditions, including Wanamaker Organ Day.  Since 2008, the organ has been fully refurbished. More than a century after the organ arrived at John Wanamaker’s department store, daily afternoon and evening performances (excluding Sunday) and special and seasonal event performances continued to fill the Grand Court with orchestra-like music.

Breanna Ransome graduated with her Master of Arts in English from Rutgers University–Camden in May 2019.

Jawn

Jawn is a neutral, all-purpose noun used to reference any person, place, situation, or object. In casual conversation, it takes the place of the word thing. Contrary to popular belief, jawn did not entirely originate in Philadelphia, but developed locally as a variant pronunciation of joint in African American vernacular English.

The meaning of jawn derives from joint in the slang of the New York regional dialect, which then migrated south to Philadelphia, but the word has a much longer history beyond the Americas. As a reference to places or situations, linguists have traced jawn back to English and French texts from the tenth through thirteenth centuries. Jointe (in French) meant one of three things: the body part (elbow joint), the act of joining (as in joint custody of an estate), or, the least obvious, a situation or part of something. Through a process known as semantic bleaching—the loosening of a word’s meaning and its application to other contexts—joint became the prototypical all-purpose noun used in modern conventional English.

[caption id="attachment_33655" align="alignright" width="300"] A “Philly Jawns” sign identifies Philadelphia-themed products at a Five Below store on Market Street. (Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia photograph)[/caption]

Joint retained remnants of its French and Middle English meaning when it arrived in New York via French migration to the region. As users of the word traveled south to Philadelphia in the twentieth century, joint underwent a distinct change in both meaning and pronunciation that resulted in the creation of jawn. While joint generally referred to physical locations or noted a predicament, jawn referenced objects, locations, events, or situational contexts. 

African American English speakers in Philadelphia adapted joint and created the new word jawn. The phonetic evolution from joint into jawn resulted from a tendency in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) to remove the final consonant of a word, and replace labial, dental, and velar stops (the p’s, t’s, and k’s) with glottal stops (the -aw or -uh sound made in the throat when pronouncing jawn). When pronouncing the parent word “joint” the larynx produces the sounds: “jawihnt.” AAVE changes this into jawn by emphasizing the glottal ah sound, omitting the ee vowel, and dropping the end consonant t, leaving the sounds jah - n. In essence, Philadelphia created the pronunciation of the word, but its meaning already existed.

Jawn has been invoked in popular culture, on social media, and for local business purposes, suggesting the gradual normalization of the word and its progression from slang to standard English. In the early 1980s, a hip-hop group, Funky 4 + 1, used the early derivation of jawnjoint—in the song “That’s the Joint.” In the 2000s, popular Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill (Robert Rahmeek Williams, b. 1987) produced the notable lyrics “Throwback Jawn” and “Repo,” a criticism of the rapper Cassidy (Barry Adrian Reese, b. 1982), in which he uses jawn to take the place of a nominal object. The Twitter page @thejawnmedia, created to promote the music of Philadelphia rap artists, and the hip-hop Internet radio station 97.2 Tha Jawn Philly, both used jawn to refer to a song or producer of songs.

[caption id="attachment_33656" align="alignright" width="225"] A poster advertising a local “Comedy Jawn” reflects the prevalence of the word among Philadelphians. (Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia photograph)[/caption]

In commercial usage, a “juke joint” was a gathering place, much like a bar or speakeasy, operated and used by African Americans in the southeastern United States during the emancipation era. A vintage restaurant in Philadelphia, the Bourbon House & Juke Joint (later renamed the Twisted Tail) at 511 S. Second Street, adopted this historical milieu. Merchandise in stores espousing Philadelphia culture (such as City-Blue on South Street) introduced shirts and other apparel with phrases like “Philly Jawn” and the like. In popular film, the character Bianca in the movie Creed (2015) used the word while referring to the quality of a cheesesteak.

In 2017, Merriam-Webster acknowledged the rising presence of jawn and the significance of urban Philadelphia culture by publishing an online essay defining and contextualizing the word. Although slang by definition and as of early 2019 not in the Merriam-Webster or Oxford English Dictionaries, the prevalence of jawn in popular culture has promoted it from street-side talk to nearly standard English.

Damiano Consilvio is a doctoral student at the University of Rhode Island. Caitlin Walker is a graduate student at Rutgers University–Camden, focusing on linguistics and aspires to earn a Ph.D. and work in academia.  

Emily Bailey

Emily Bailey is Assistant Professor of Christian Traditions and Religions in the Americas at Towson University, Towson, Maryland.

Breanna Ransome

Breanna Ransome graduated with her Master of Arts in English from Rutgers University–Camden in May 2019.

Caitlin Walker

Caitlin Walker is a graduate student at Rutgers University–Camden, focusing on linguistics and aspires to earn a Ph.D. and work in academia.  

Mütter Museum

In 1849, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, following trends in medical education and research, created a museum of anatomy and pathology. After Thomas Dent Mütter (1811-59) donated his world-class collection in 1858, the expanded institution became the Mütter Museum—one of the best medical collections in the city and in the country. Together, as their missions evolved, the museum and the college showed that a collection from the nineteenth century could be engaged in new ways for new visitors, both medical and non-medical. In the twenty-first century, the museum addressed contemporary concerns in the fields of medicine and public health while also documenting the history of science and evoking larger meditations on life, death, and the human body.

[caption id="attachment_33825" align="alignright" width="202"] Thomas Dent Mütter, whose collection of medical specimens helped create one of the most renowned medical museums, was also a skilled and innovative surgeon. (Thomas Jefferson University)[/caption]

Mütter, who graduated from medical school at the University of Pennsylvania in 1831, taught and practiced medicine at Jefferson Medical College as the Chair of Surgery from 1841 until 1856. While doing so, he built the collection of more than a thousand items that he donated to the college along with a $30,000 endowment to maintain the collection and fund a lectureship. Bones, wet preparations, casts, and watercolor paintings dominated the gift, which also included wax preparations, dried preparations, papier-mache models, and oil paintings.

Mütter stipulated that the College of Physicians (founded in 1787) construct a new, fireproof building to house the collection within five years of his donation. In 1863, the requisite building opened at Thirteenth and Locust Streets, and over time the museum’s collections expanded through additional gifts, donations, and purchases. The collections were meant to be educational, but because the Mütter was never part of a medical school they served the continuing education of members of the college more than doctors in training. However, little is known as to how widely members used the museum. Ambivalence about the museum emerged despite the time, money, and other resources put into acquisitions. Upon the centennial of the college in 1887, some, like S. Weir Mitchell (1829-1914), praised the museum as “one of the most valuable and interesting collections in America.” Others, like W.S.W. Ruschenberger (1807-95), suggested that “many visit the museum merely to gratify curiosity. How many resort to it only for study, or consult it for information alone, has not been ascertained.”

Restrictions on Use of Museum Income

[caption id="attachment_33822" align="alignright" width="300"] The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest medical society in the United States, hosts the Mütter Museum of medical oddities in its building at Twenty-Second and Ludlow Streets. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)[/caption]

Some of the ambivalence resulted from the fact that surplus income from the Mütter endowment could not be used by the college for other purposes. The library in particular needed more space, and library staff as well as many members of the college viewed old pathological specimens as less useful than books and journals containing current information on medical research. While specimens could best teach lessons in older fields like anatomy, books were more useful in emergent laboratory-based fields like bacteriology. Ultimately, the college used income from the endowment to add a third floor that benefited the library as well as the growing museum. The expansion opened in 1886.

By the turn of the twentieth century, however, the college needed still more space and constructed a new building at Twenty-Second and Ludlow Streets. The building, completed in 1909, had dedicated space for the museum, although more room for the library stacks. The design of the exhibit space emulated museums in Europe with an open lower level surrounded by a mezzanine that let natural light into the gallery. Some of the wood and glass display cases likely came from the old location and newer cases resembled the nineteenth-century originals.

[caption id="attachment_33823" align="alignright" width="198"] Dr. Josef Hyrtl’s skull collection, acquired by the Mütter Museum in 1874, helped the Austrian physician discredit phrenology. (Visit Philadelphia)[/caption]

The architecture, cabinetry, and specimens remained the same into the twenty-first century—garnering the Mütter a reputation as a museum of a museum. Retained historical exhibits included the American Giant seen alongside Mary Ashberry, a dwarf, and the Hyrtl Skulls organized row upon row for easy comparison and aesthetic appeal. Other displays, such as congenital deformities, survived with the arrangements and labels of an earlier date, but curators added text to explain the labels as historical documents that included past language that had become derogatory and offensive.

Despite the new home established in 1909, the collections languished throughout much of the twentieth century because education and innovation in the medical field shifted to subjects like microbiology, which did not use the same specimens that anatomy and pathology once had. The Mütter’s utility was also limited because medical students still had access to collections at their home institutions and gaining entry to the museum required a discouraging amount of paperwork. However, as part of a medical society rather than a school, the Mütter remained insulated from needs to align with new methods of learning or jettison space-consuming specimens and thus it survived when its peers did not.

Visitation Diversifies

In the mid-twentieth century, curators like Ella Wade (1892-1980) and Elizabeth Moyer (1917-97) cared for the collections and administered visitation permissions to medical schools, nursing schools, and biology classes. By the 1970s, attendance diversified when students from Moore College of Art came to the museum to sketch and other casual, nonmedical visitors came in somewhat greater numbers. A boost came from the 1976 Bicentennial when the Philadelphia Visitor and Convention Guide listed the museum in its brochure, presenting it both as a tourist attraction and as a site of American heritage.

[caption id="attachment_33824" align="alignright" width="300"] Visitors receive a lesson on the “giant” seven-foot-six-inch skeleton on display at the Mütter Museum. Medical specimens like this have helped attract over 180,000 visitors a year to the museum. (Photograph by Donald D. Groff for The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia)[/caption]

Also in the mid-1970s, Gretchen Worden (1947-2004) began her 29-year tenure at the institution, a career that transformed the Mütter Museum into a Philadelphia icon far better known to the public than the College of Physicians. Not all at the college welcomed this development. Despite those members, however, the museum attracted more and more visitors—growing from 1,800 in 1959 to 5,000 annually in the 1980s and to 24,000 in 1997.  It also faced new problems of interpretation. While the medical field had been historically comfortable with the objectification of people with diseases and disabilities—labeling them monstrous and grotesque—nonmedical visitors, new codes of medical ethics, and progressive approaches to museum exhibition changed curatorial strategies.

Confronted by these new interests, the twentieth-century museum had to face its nineteenth-century roots as both a medical institution and as a museum. When the Mütter Museum was established, emerging ideas about medical authority, scientific objectivity, and technologies like photography—which the Mütter collected—had a tendency to overlook the human pain of disease and disability and diminish the individuality of the patient. The museum, with its objects and body parts, had a parallel effect. In addition to reflecting the earlier approach to medical practice, the Mütter Museum developed from a Victorian-era interest in objects as things that could be ordered, controlled, and mastered amidst an unruly and rapidly changing world.

By the late twentieth century, changing ethics in both medicine and museums meant that displays of body parts could seem exploitative, and nonmedical visitors could seem like voyeurs taking pleasure in the disembodied pain of others. Although the collections could still be informative for nonmedical visitors who might view the collections with respect, their spectatorship could also easily look like gawking at diseased bodies for entertainment.

Pathology With an Artistic Bent

Worden’s approach to this problem focused on the collections’ hidden aesthetics. Rather than seeing pathology as ugly, grotesque, or abnormal, she invited art photographers to take pictures of the specimens and to show the body—even the diseased body—as beautiful, as a testament not to horror, but to humanity. New projects, including the calendar she created with artist Laura Lindgren (b. 1959), photography exhibits in the museum, and fellowships for artists to use the museum and library reoriented the collections away from exclusively medical constructions of the body as object and toward conventions of fine art that conveyed respect and fostered reflection.

In the 2000s, curator Anna Dhody (b. 1974) helped the College of Physicians establish exhibits and programs to engage the historic collections with contemporary concerns about public health. A History of Vaccines website launched in 2010. Interpretive labeling evolved. In other programs, LGBTQ+ youth gave tours that used the Hyrtl collection to show the difficulty of identifying gender—much less race—based on bone structure. Additionally, the Mütter Research Institute created in 2014 encouraged modern research with the historic collections.

Begun with a world-class medical collection in the nineteenth century, in the twentieth century the Mütter Museum became a relic maintained through inertia and the support of the College of Physicians as a home institution. By the twenty-first century, however, the museum took advantage of its reliquary status and adopted new roles as a document of medical heritage, a meditation on disease, life, and death, and an exploration of the simultaneous beauty and monstrosity of the body and of humanity itself. As a tourist attraction that garnered over 180,000 visitors a year, the museum no longer simply survived within the auspices of the College of Physicians, but helped finance it. Indeed, plans for the expansion of exhibit space announced in 2018 demonstrated that the museum was driving not only the public identity and financial security of the College of Physicians but also broader conversations about public health and public history.

Mabel Rosenheck is a writer and historian in Philadelphia. She received her Ph.D. in media and cultural studies from Northwestern University and works at the Wagner Free Institute of Science, Temple University, and elsewhere.

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