Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) will celebrate the commonwealth’s 337th birthday on Charter Day, Sunday, March 11, with a rare display of William Penn’s original charter and four Indian Deeds. In addition, PHMC will offer free admission to many of the historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History.
Pennsylvania was created when England’s King Charles II granted a charter to William Penn in 1681. Once each year the Pennsylvania State Archives exhibits the original document for a limited time at The State Museum of Pennsylvania. The 337-year-old Charter is written on parchment using iron gall ink. To preserve the document, the State Archives stores it in a high-security vault, shielding it from strong light and environmental fluctuations.
In addition to the Charter, the archives will also display four original deeds tracing the sale of lands by American Indians to William Penn and his successors between 1683 and 1789.
The four Indian deeds have been selected from the archives’ collection of 33 such deeds. When Charles II granted Penn land in the new world, the founder received complete legal title to the land per English law, but Penn insisted on paying the Indians for their land claims. Penn’s first purchase, in 1682, was negotiated by Deputy Governor William Markham, but Penn went on to personally negotiate at least 10 deeds of purchase, beginning in 1683. By 1789 the Indian nations had sold the commonwealth all its present territory. These beautiful documents preserve many of the signatures or marks of the Indians who signed them.
Admission to The State Museum is free on Charter Day, Sunday, March 11 only, and includes visits to the Planetarium, the Curiosity Connection, and galleries. Free timed tickets are required for the Planetarium and the Curiosity Connection.
Additionally, The State Museum will present “Exploring Industrial Pennsylvania through Fowler’s Bird’s-Eye Views,” an afternoon of informal presentations led by subject matter experts, including curators, archivists, and academics, focusing on various aspects of Pennsylvania’s late 19th-century industrial landscapes, as represented through the hand-drawn bird’s-eye views of T.M. Fowler, the nation’s most prolific city viewmaker. This presentation, scheduled from 1:00 to 3:30 PM, coincides with the exhibit Every Thing of Interest Shown: T.M. Fowler’s Pennsylvania Bird’s-Eye Views, on display at the museum through May 6.
The Pennsylvania Charter and the four Indian deeds will remain on display at the museum until 1:00 PM, Friday, March 16, when the documents will be returned to the vault for another year.
In addition to programming at The State Museum, many historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History will offer free admission on Sunday, March 11.
Participating historic sites and museums include:
• Brandywine Battlefield Park, Chadds Ford
• Conrad Weiser Homestead, Womelsdorf
• Cornwall Iron Furnace, Cornwall
• Daniel Boone Homestead, Birdsboro
• Drake Well Museum, Titusville
• Eckley Miners’ Village, Weatherly
• Ephrata Cloister, Ephrata
• Erie Maritime Museum & Flagship Niagara, Erie
• Fort Pitt Museum, Pittsburgh
• Graeme Park, Horsham
• Hope Lodge, Ft. Washington
• Joseph Priestley House, Northumberland
• Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, Lancaster
• Pennsbury Manor, Morrisville
• Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton
• Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, Ulysses
• Pennsylvania Military Museum, Boalsburg
• Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg
• Somerset Historical Center, Somerset
MEDIA CONTACT: Howard Pollman, 717-705-8639