An Invitation: Support Scholarship,
Build Community, Create a Legacy

Wednesday, March 21 is Giving Day. Join a community of scholars, students, and history lovers, and make a gift to support The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia.

We need your help! The Encyclopedia is a digital resource produced by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at Rutgers-Camden. It offers the most comprehensive, authoritative reference source ever created for the Philadelphia region, and with your help it will continue to grow.

Your donation of any amount will be used to employ the students who help to make The Encyclopedia possible! The first $200 donated on March 21 will be matched by a generous supporter. Act early, and help us continue to move the project toward completion.

●     $15 employs one student for one hour of research assistance or digital publishing.

●     $30 pays for fact-checking one new essay.

●     $90 pays for building one new topic page.

●     $150 employs one student for one ten-hour work week.

●     $2,100 employs one student for one semester. 

Donate on March 21 and help us to continue producing original scholarship and supporting the history practitioners of the future. Thank you!

How to Give:

●     Visit on March 21 to make a tax-deductible donation.

When you donate, select Research, Institutes & Cultural Programs and then MARCH (Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities) from the drop-down menu.

●     Or, call 732-839-GIVE (4483) and direct your gift to MARCH (Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities) today!

Spread the word on social media with #RUGivingDay and @MARCHRuCamden

An Invitation: Support Scholarship,
Build Community, Create a Legacy

Thank you, everyone who supported our successful one-day fund-raiser on Rutgers Giving Day.  Your support will enable us to continue to employ students as fact-checkers and digital publishing assistants, so that The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia can continue to grow.

If you missed the opportunity or wish to encourage others to give, please link here to add your support: Make a gift today.

●     $15 employs one student for one hour of research assistance or digital publishing.

●     $30 pays for fact-checking one new essay.

●     $90 pays for building one new topic page.

●     $150 employs one student for one ten-hour work week.

●     $2,100 employs one student for one semester.

Additional anticipated needs include a temporary expansion of professional staff during 2020 (estimated $10,000 to $15,000) and website repair and redesign (estimated $50,000 to $100,000).

Thank you for helping us continue producing original scholarship and supporting the history practitioners of the future.

Anchors of Civic Life?
Shopping Centers Not All They Could Have been

The regional shopping mall is so much a part of modern American culture it is easy enough to forget how much more was expected of it with its introduction in the 1950s than simply being an “engine of commerce.” Taken together with David Sullivan’s entry on department stores, Matthew Smalarz’s essay on shopping centers suggests some of what has been lost in the geographic shift of retail activity over the past half century.

Regional shopping centers cropped up precisely at that point when the dispersion of metropolitan population introduced the phenomenon of suburban sprawl. The idealists behind the regional centers hoped their structures would help anchor new communities and give shape to ex-urban land use. As a writer for the Department Store Economist proclaimed in1954, “…no construction is more dynamic than the shopping center or as likely to influence a reform of the usual urban and suburban hodgepodge….A new generation of department store men and women…are showing the same high responsibility to the communities that their grandfathers showed when they helped to create the great downtowns which we know today in hundreds of cities.”  

In their early days, suburban malls hosted fashion shows, opportunities for children’s play, high school proms, and even classical music concerts. If food courts lacked the grandeur of the tea rooms that female shoppers once gathered in downtown department stores, they nonetheless offered opportunities for sociability among women beyond the privacy of their homes, where so much of their attention was otherwise directed if they did not hold down fulltime jobs. For years the Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey served as the gathering point for a number of former Camden residents whose dispersion outside the city in the 1950s and 1960s left them hungry for familiar faces and an opportunity to reminisce about their former lives.

Over time, these facilities became increasingly privatized, as community-oriented events aimed at generating a sense of loyalty to place as well as the crowds to animate them gave way to simply enticing paying customers. Shortly after her important book, A Consumer’s Republic appeared in 2003, I invited author and Harvard University professor Lizabeth Cohen to do a talk and sought to locate it in the courtyard of the Cherry Hill Mall, which received a good deal of attention in her book.The managers of the property said she could do so, but only after paying a $5,000 fee to gain access to the mall’s customers. As an alternative, they suggested the mall’s only bookstore, which we rejected after the manager failed to recognize the name of the publisher: Knopf.

Garden State entraceThe great irony of the commercial redevelopment of the Garden State Race Track nearby was the argument that it would fulfill Cherry Hill’s need for a town center. Apparently no one remembered, let alone imagined the mall once had been touted for serving just that function. As the site developed into an amalgam of different pods—for big box stores and clusters of housing—it served less of a model of “new urbanism” and more of an illustration of the basic problem critics point to in suburbs: physically induced social isolation.

Given the chance to create better communities on relatively open land in suburbs in place of urban centers that had evolved over time, developers fell well short of creating communities that integrated effectively the needs that enable thriving communities. We all have our favorite shopping destinations, but it’s hard to think of them today as the civic investments they were originally intended to be.

Art Museum Joins Civic Advisory Board

We are pleased to welcome the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the Encyclopedia’s Civic Advisory Board.  Staff members from the Museum’s Center for American Art participated in the Civic Partnership and Planning Workshop that launched the project, and we look forward to working with them next year on a public program to explore Philadelphia’s reputation as “Athens of America.” 

Bibliographic Survey Expanded

Our survey of recently published works about Philadelphia now covers books, articles, and dissertations since 1982. To find the most up-to-date research on numerous topics, link to the survey on our Bibliographic Survey page.

Bibliographic Survey Expanded

Looking for the latest word on Philadelphia?  We are pleased to offer a newly expanded bibliographic survey of scholarship, public history work, and public policy studies about Philadelphia published since 1982.  The survey is approximately one-third larger than the previous survey, with a significant expansion in entries related to public policy as well as updated coverage of scholarship published during 2009 and early 2010.  Our thanks to bibliographer Hillary S. Kativa for her work on the survey and to the University of Pennsylvania Press for making this project possible.

Call for Authors, Editors, and Advisers:
Winter-Spring 2018

With nearly 600 topics already online, The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia is seeking authors to help complete priority subject categories. To view available assignments, link here for the list of topics.

To join more than 400 leading and emerging scholars who have already contributed to this peer-reviewed, digital-first project, let us know your choice of topics and choice of deadline from January through May 2018. Prospective authors must have expertise in their chosen subjects demonstrated by previous publications and/or advanced training in historical research. The scope of the project includes the city of Philadelphia and the surrounding region of southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and northern Delaware. 

To express interest, please send an email describing your qualifications and specifying topics of interest to the project editorial assistant, Mikaela Maria, No attachments, please. Graduate students, please include the name and email address of an academic reference.

Call for Associate Editors and Advisers

We also invite expressions of interest from scholars or experienced editors interested in becoming associate editors for our next phase of expansion or supporting the project in other ways. These voluntary professional service roles might include any of the following:

  • Reviewing subject categories, recruiting authors to fill gaps, and editing submissions.
  • Preparing proposals for thematic books incorporating existing content.
  • Reviewing submissions.
  • Developing public events with community partners.
  • Fund-raising.
  • Improving the project’s WordPress website (programming knowledge required).

To express interest in becoming an editor or adviser, write to editor-in-chief Charlene Mires,


Guidelines for writers and editors:

Roster of authors:

Editors and staff:

Call for Authors, Summer 2021

We are approaching an exciting juncture for The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia project as we make plans to publish books derived from this digital platform. Scholars and other topic experts, you can help! Please review our list of most-needed topics so that we may fill gaps in our coverage. Your peer-reviewed essay will add to recognition of your expertise in your chosen field.

We seek to make assignments with firm deadlines of late summer or early fall, and modest compensation is available.

Connecting the Past with the Present, Building Community, Creating a Legacy