A Brief Call to A Greater History

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Tim H. Blessing


Much of Pennsylvania is, from a historian’s point of view, invisible. Once past the Pittsburgh area and its hinterlands, the Philadelphia area and its hinterlands, and the coal regions, only an occasional article has appeared on what processes, what events, defined the lives of those who occupied the great majority of the area we call Pennsylvania. We have only a few professional articles on the West Branch of the Susquehanna and very few on the upper regions of that valley. The Allegheny River Valley only becomes visible as the Allegheny River approaches Pittsburgh. The “northern tier” counties are rarely written about. Appalachian counties such as Fulton and Sullivan have almost no presence in any professional narrative. The region along the upper Delaware River has been rarely touched upon. How many who are reading this have ever read an article that focused on Jefferson County, that touched upon why Elk County has such a large Catholic population in the midst of an overwhelmingly Protestant region, which asked why Huntingdon County’s African American population, as percentage of overall population, is much larger than any of its adjacent counties? There is, in short, a scarcity of scholarly articles and books, and at times a complete lack of such articles and books, for far too much of Pennsylvania.

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