A podcast series exploring stories based on, inspired by, or connected to material artifacts
S2 Episode 1: The Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) – When Cultural Workers Were Paid Salaried Workers
In this episode of Story Search from Special Collections, Joe Shemtov interviews Allan Edmunds, founder of Brandywine Workshop and Archives, and visual artists Virginia Maksymowicz and Blaise Tobia. They discuss the benefits of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) from personal and community perspectives. Inspired by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930s, a New Deal program that employed artists in public works, CETA was a federal law enacted by congress in 1973 to train workers and provide jobs in public service. Find more information at the CETA Arts Legacy Project, https://ceta-arts.com.
In September 2021, the Free Library of Philadelphia will present For the Greatest Number: The New Deal Revisited. This exhibition will take a thematic look at the art and artifacts created by New Deal workers that shaped the infrastructure, morale, and myth of the United States.
S1 Episode 10: MOVE Bombing
On May 13, 1985 the City of Philadelphia ordered the Philadelphia police to drop two bombs onto the roof of the homes of MOVE organization members, primarily a townhouse located at 6221 Osage Avenue. The bombing killed six MOVE members and five of their children. The resulting fire was left to burn by the fire department by order of the police, destroying 65 houses in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood of West Philadelphia. The Free Library of Philadelphia has an extensive collection of materials on the MOVE bombing including documents from the Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission and transcripts of public hearings. The ramifications of this bombing are still affecting MOVE and our city today.
On this podcast we will be talking to Janine Phillips Africa and Sue Africa about the 1985 MOVE bombing, the MOVE organization, and their current emotional roller coaster over their family’s remains being held by the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and the City of Philadelphia.
S1 Episode 9: Thomas Morton and The New Canaan: The America That Could Have Been
In this episode we discuss a book written by Thomas Morton (c.1579 –1647) an early colonist of North America and his book New English Canaan, printed in Amsterdam in 1637, a copy of which can be found in The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Americana Collection. Our guest is Peter C. Mancall. In his 2019 book, The Trials of Thomas Morton: An Anglican Lawyer, His Puritan Foes, and the Battle for a New England, he writes about the importance of Morton and The New English Canaan. Professor Mancall is a history professor at the University of Southern California, focusing on early America, Native Americans, and the early modern Atlantic world.
S1 Episode 8: Music of the Ephrata Cloister and the Pennsylvania Germans
This episode is inspired by The Free Library’s collection of Pennsylvania German printed books, manuscripts, and works of art. Our guests are Dr. Alex Ames and Dr. Christopher Herbert. Ames is author of The Word in The Wilderness, host of Cloister Talk: The Pennsylvania German Material Texts Podcast, and Collections Engagement Manager at the Rosenbach Museum & Library. Herbert is a musicologist, professional opera singer, and Assistant Professor at William Paterson University where he leads the Vocal Studies program. His current research and our conversation today focus on the music of the Ephrata Cloister, an eighteenth-century commune in Pennsylvania.
S1 Episode 7: Now Is the Time. Connecting Three Historical Figures: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stephen Girard, and Toussaint Louverture
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Philadelphia on August 3, 1965 to protest the discriminatory admission policies of Girard College. Photographs of that visit are now in the Print and Picture Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia and they inspire our discussion today.
Joining us is Mharlyn Merritt, an author and former Free Library employee who attended the march as a teenager; today’s podcast is based in part on her personal account. Kathy Haas, Director of Historical Resources at Girard College, will talk about how Stephen Girard connects to Toussaint Louverture and the importance of that connection to the Civil Rights narrative in the 1960s. And Professor Marlene Daut, specialist in early and 19th-century American and Caribbean literary and cultural studies at the University of Virginia, will discuss Toussaint Louverture’s role as leader of the only successful slave revolt against European powers in modern history.
S1 Episode 6: A Tribute to Lillian Marrero: The Mural and Her Legacy
Tribute to Lillian Marrero by Danny Torres and Peter Pagast is a mural at the intersection of N 6th St and W Lehigh Ave. Completed in 2005 by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, the painting honors Lillian Marrero for her work and dedication to the North Philadelphia community. Marrero was a librarian, advocate, and community leader. In 2006, the neighborhood library where Marrero worked, across the street from the mural, was renamed in her honor. In this episode, we’ll speak with three of our colleagues from the Lillian Marrero Library: Tania Maria Rios Marrero, daughter of Lillian Marrero and Community Organizer, Mieka Moody, Library Supervisor, and Natalie Walker, Digital Resource Specialist.
Tribute to Lillian Marrero (c) 2005 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Peter Pagast & Danny Torres. Photo by Jack Ramsdale.