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Celebrate Pennsylvania’s Birthday with Display of William Penn’s Charter and Women’s Suffrage Documents, Free Admission to PA Trails of History Sites and Museums

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) will celebrate the commonwealth’s 338th birthday on Charter Day, Sunday, March 10, with a rare display of William Penn’s original charter and documents relating to the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. 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 338-year-old Charter is written on parchment using iron gall ink. The State Archives preserves the document in a high-security vault, shielding it from strong light and environmental fluctuations.

In addition to the Charter, the Archives will display documents relating to the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote, including Pennsylvania’s copy of the “Joint Resolution of Congress Proposing an Amendment to the United States Constitution Extending the Right of Suffrage to Women” and Pennsylvania’s “Joint Resolution for Ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Admission to The State Museum is free on Charter Day, Sunday, March 10 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 a talk by Andrew Murphy, professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of the new biography William Penn: A Life.  The presentation titled William Penn: Four Mysteries will focus on the things we wish we knew more about Pennsylvania’s founder. The program is scheduled for 2:00 PM in the First Floor Gallery. A book signing will follow.

The Pennsylvania Charter and women’s suffrage documents will remain on display at the museum until 1:00 PM, Friday, March 15, 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 10. 

Participating historic sites and museums include: 

Brandywine Battlefield Park, Chadds Ford

Bushy Run Battlefield, Jeannette

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

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