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September 16, 2020

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Columbus?

On Oct. 12, 1958, a monument of explorer Christopher Columbus was unveiled to the public in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park. This event marked the first of many bicentennial festivities celebrating the city’s 1758 founding when a twenty-something George Washington helped establish Fort Pitt.  Fast forward more than 60 years later – our society is engaged in debates about symbols in America, their meaning and public display. Symbols are subjective and their interpretation can be influenced by personal experience. Symbols are especially complicated when they are made in the image of a historical figure. Columbus is one such case. Is it possible to both publicly laud and protest the same person? This is where we find ourselves today. But how did we get here? 

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September 5, 2020

Behind the Portrait: Bill Hartack’s Derby Disappointment of 1958

One of the most striking portraits on display in the History Center’s current exhibition, Smithsonian’s Portraits of Pittsburgh: Works from the National Portrait Gallery, depicts famous jockey Bill Hartack suited up for a horse race and standing in front of a row of racing silks.

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August 18, 2020

Pennsylvania Women and the Vote

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which made it illegal to deny citizens the right to vote based on sex. As we commemorate this landmark anniversary, let’s look back at some of the Pennsylvania women who fought hard to make women’s suffrage a reality. The impact of these women, along with countless others in Western Pa. and beyond, can still be felt today.

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