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Articles written by Darwin H. Stapleton

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  • 'Remember the Ladies': Six First Ladies Who Made History


    For Women’s History Month, we have selected six First Ladies of the United States who displayed political, social and decorative expertise and brought credibility to their gender. In addition, the First Ladies that we are profiling are distinguished by “firsts” that they accomplished during their service to the nation. Abigail Adams Early in 1776 Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John Adams, the future second president of the United States, at a time when women could not vote, arguing for the independence of the English colonies in...

  • The Story of Presidential Libraries and Their Archives

    DARWIN H. STAPLETON, Certified Archivist Emeritus|Nov 3, 2022

    Why do we have presidential archives? Recent news about the preservation of United States presidential documents may raise questions in the minds of American citizens about why there are protected and preserved presidential archives. All citizens recognize that they have vital documents that are their property — driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, deeds, wills, and bank statements, for example. But why are presidential documents property of the government? There are several levels to the story of presidential archives. I offer the fol...

  • Common Sense: Education

    DARWIN H. STAPLETON, For the Herald|Mar 17, 2022

    Education is the subject of my third and last “Common Sense” piece for the Herald. My title is drawn from the pamphlet written by Thomas Paine, the American revolutionary whose writing raised the spirits of patriots in the hard winter of 1775-1776. Many Americans feel that currently we are in hard times. Pennsylvania historically has taken a national lead in many areas of public education. Its first state constitution in 1790 recognized the importance of education for all citizens by requiring that the “poor be taught gratis,” that is,...

  • Common Sense: Immigration

    DARWIN H. STAPLETON, For the Herald|Jan 20, 2022

    My approach here, as a U.S. and Pennsylvania historian for fifty years, is to examine briefly how immigrants and immigration have been viewed and have adapted from colonial times to the present in Pennsylvania and in the nation as a whole; and to suggest that perspective may increase our understanding of immigration. Many residents of the Cove are proud of their Pennsylvania German/Pennsylvania Dutch heritage (as I am, though not from the Cove), which stems from William Penn and his sons’ welcoming immigrants from Germany as they sought to...

  • "The Best in America": Juniata Iron and Those Who Made It

    DARWIN H. STAPLETON|Sep 2, 2021

    In the Cove region there are roadside historical markers with the heading “Juniata Iron.” The few words state that there was a significant iron industry here from the late 1700s into the mid-1800s – but what was the basis of that industry and why does it merit those roadside markers? Pennsylvania had iron furnaces and forges for nearly a century before the industry established new outposts in central Pennsylvania. The first iron furnace was built in the region in 1785 at Orbisonia. Quickly thereafter more furnaces (which made the cast...

  • Automobiles, Influenza and Covid-19: History Shows No Equivalency

    Darwin H. Stapleton|May 21, 2020

    Contrary to what some public figures have suggested, there is no equivalency between the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and its resulting deaths, versus deaths from automobile accidents and from the influenza (the flu). Comparing a new phenomenon with automobile technology and an annual disease that have been around for a hundred years or more is misleading. As a historian of technology, science, and medicine I can assert that it is wrong to suggest that somehow we should regard the...

  • A Nonpolitical Historical Approach to Epidemic Disease Stages

    Darwin H. Stapleton, For the Herald|Mar 19, 2020

    Epidemics do not have politics. History shows that for the last 200 years, governments and health workers have reacted in much the same way to each epidemic. As an historian, I have been studying public health and disease for 40 years. I suggest that, by drawing on history, it is possible to summarize the typical stages of epidemic diseases, and therefore to provide some of the needed background information for those who are worried about the spread, at the present time, of a strain of the... Full story

  • The Cove Region's Role in Early Railroading at Home and Abroad

    Darwin H. Stapleton, For the Herald|Aug 29, 2019

    The Morrisons Cove region played a small but significant role in the early history of American railroads – with effects that reached to Europe. The story begins not in Pennsylvania, but in Virginia, with Moncure Robinson, a native of Virginia, whom a Pennsylvania state official later called the "First Master" of railroads in America. Born in 1802, Robinson attended William and Mary College (in Williamsburg, Virginia), and after graduation worked on the James River Canal west of Richmond,...

  • General Daniel Roberdeau: Immigrant, Merchant, Patriot

    Darwin H. Stapleton|Aug 8, 2019

    Many of the readers of the Herald have visited Fort Roberdeau in Tyrone Township, Blair County. There they have learned about the purpose of the fort, and about aspects of the Revolutionary War in what was then the frontier of Pennsylvania. But the background of the fort's namesake, General Daniel Roberdeau, is perhaps less well-known to visitors. Roberdeau's personal story is an American story that tells us much about the times in which he lived, and what it meant to be a sacrificial patriot...

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