Monday, November 18, 2013

Two Web Exhibits from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Among several digital history projects, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania has two that are of particular interest to business and economic historians.
Depositors wait to try to withdraw their money from the Erie National Bank, Sixth and Erie streets, 1931 (Pa. Historical Society)
    The first, "Closed for Business: The Story of Bankers Trust Company during the Great Depression," describes the rise and fall of Bankers Trust Company, the first large bank to fail in Philadelphia during the Great Depression. The site includes:
  • 320 digitized primary source documents, including documents about the bank's operation, letters from depositors desperate to get access to their funds after the bank's failure, and newspaper clippings about the aftermath of the bank's failure;
  • biographies of some of the people and organizations highlighted in the documents;
  • contextual essays (including one by R. Daniel Wadhwani) about the history of Bankers Trust Company, the Great Depression in Philadelphia, and the 1930s banking crisis in Philadelphia; and
  • an educators' page with ideas about how to use the resource in the classroom.
The second exhibit, Preserving America's Freedom, explores the complicated history of American freedom through 50 documents in the Society's collections; of specific interest is the section on "Economic Freedoms." Exhibiting selected documents and images, the site also contains essays by well-known historians, including Eric Foner, Walter Licht, and Thomas Sugrue,