In Memoriam: Gary Nash

We are so saddened to learn the news of the passing of our good friend and colleague, Gary Nash, a consulting editor of The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. While Gary spent his career in California at UCLA, he never lost touch with Philadelphia, the city where he was born. Among many other works of scholarship, Gary’s research opened new ways of understanding Philadelphia with Quakers and Politics: Pennsylvania 1681-1726 (published in 1968), The Urban Crucible: Social Change, Political Consciousness, and the Origins of the American Revolution (1979), Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia’s Black Community, 1720-1840 (1988), First City: Philadelphia and the Forging of Historical Memory (2002), and many other books and articles.

An engaged scholar who promoted excellence in education and public history, Gary also played a pivotal role in significant Philadelphia projects. He amplified critical needs for inclusive history, particularly by intervening in the public interpretation of the Liberty Bell and the President’s House site to assure the recognition of enslaved Africans and the complexities of freedom in early America. And in 2007, he amplified the need for a comprehensive, public, and inclusive history of Philadelphia — The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, which continues as an active project today. In addition to serving as a valued adviser and advocate, he wrote essays about the Cradle of Liberty and the Liberty Bell.

To learn more about Gary Nash’s life and career, we invite you to read the tribute published by the UCLA History Department, linked here. Moreover, we encourage you to honor his life’s work by following his example of commitment to Philadelphia history.

In the Cradle of Industry & Liberty: A History of Manufacturing in Philadelphia – New Book by Encyclopedia Contributor

Philadelphia’s manufacturing history is the subject of a new book by archivist and historian Jack McCarthy, best known to readers of The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia as the author of many of our music topics. In the Cradle of Industry & Liberty: A History of Manufacturing in Philadelphia, published for the Manufacturing Alliance of Philadelphia by HPN Books, traces local manufacturing from the colonial period to the transition to machine-based factory production methods, the development of manufacturing on a massive scale, and the dramatic downsizing in manufacturing that led to the city’s transition to a post-industrial, service-based economy. This month, McCarthy will talk about the topics of his book at a meeting of the Philadelphia Association of Tour Guides on January 11 and at the annual dinner of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archaeology on January 20.

In the News: Encyclopedia Author Featured on St. Patrick’s Day

The author of our essay about St. Patrick’s Day, Mikaela Maria, appeared on CBS3 news on March 17 to provide historical background about the holiday. Reporter David Spunt posted a portion of the interview and his additional tracking of St. Patrick’s Day in Philadelphia on the CBS3 website. (Reporters, contact us any time you need to reach our expert authors, and follow the @Backgrounders Twitter feed for additional context to the news.)

Join the Discussion about Jewelers Row

Join us at the Philadelphia History Museum on Thursday, September 22, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. as we co-sponsor a conversation about the history and significance of Philadelphia’s Jewelers Row.  Speakers will include Paul Steinke, Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia; Hy Goldberg, Jewelers Row Business Association; Bob Skiba, Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides; and representatives from Visit Philadelphia.  The program is free, but registration is required. 

Join the Encyclopedia List-Serv

We are pleased to announce the creation of a list-serv to build and sustain the growing community of interest in The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. Anyone who would like to receive periodic updates about the project is invited to join the list. To join, send an e-mail to Howard Gillette at or add a comment expressing your interest to this post.

Like Us? Help Us Reach the Next 1,000

At The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, we have a lot to celebrate this month. We have the long-awaited Super Bowl victory, now added to our page about professional football. One of our co-editors, Howard Gillette, has been selected to receive the 2018 Visionary Historian Award from the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.  In addition, throughout this February we are celebrating Black History Month by highlighting more than thirty of our articles on African American history in the Philadelphia area, including essays about the region’s role in the Civil Rights movement, prominent black Philadelphians, and contributions from black communities in the region. We have at least one essay a day lined up to be shared on our Facebook page for the whole month of February. We have a diverse collection of essays on African American history covering a wide range of topics–our social media feed for this month of celebration will never be boring!

We’re also pleased to announce that we have reached a milestone of 1,000 followers on Facebook. We can’t wait to reach the next thousand with you! As we work to add to our essays available as well as our number of fans across social media, we’d love to hear from you about what your favorite articles have been or if you have a topic you’d like to nominate for an essay.

We love engaging with our fans across social media with comments, shares, and suggestions. If you haven’t already, please like us on Facebook at the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia and follow us on Twitter @Backgrounders for daily essay postings and notifications about new articles up on the site. We look forward to reaching the next thousand followers and sharing some great essays with you this year!

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