Pennsylvania Geography exercise book  [ca. 1831-1835]
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Collection Scope and Content Note

Written between 1831 and 1835, this volume contains a series of school exercises about the state of Pennsylvania, organized by county. Essays cover a diverse array of topics including the geography, architecture, and history of specific areas. Though the volume focuses on Pennsylvania at the county level, the cities of Germantown and Philadelphia are discussed at length. While writing about Germantown, the writer considers not only its history, but also the composition of its population, the religion of these settlers, relations with local Native Americans, natural geography, and its role in the American Revolution. The author treats Philadelphia in even more depth, devoting entire exercises to specific bridges and buildings (including the city's prisons, hospital, local British army barracks, poor houses, and the homes of notable residents such as William Penn and Robert Morris), "The Treaty Tree," foreign settlers, "The 'caves' of the first inhabitants," "Superstition and popular Credulity of the Early Inhabitants" (with a focus on the city's first Dutch and Swedish settlers), and its "Aborigines." Of particular interest is a lengthy discussion of William Penn and his history within the state. Together, the sections on Germantown and Philadelphia comprise roughly one-fourth of the volume.

The remainder of the book is devoted to exercises exploring Pennsylvania's various counties, as divided in the early 1830s (see below for a list of counties covered in the volume). The section on each county contains an initial introduction accompanied by a manuscript map (except in the case of Centre County) and at least one essay. These exercises are generally much shorter than those devoted to Philadelphia, and they focus primarily on geographic features such as rivers, hills or mountains, and soil. Other recurrent topics include roads or other improvements and (occasionally) larger towns or cities. Lancaster and Pittsburgh are among the settlements described in greater detail, though neither description matches the attention given to Germantown or Philadelphia. The exercise book provides a thorough, contemporary view of Pennsylvania in the early 19th century, from the established settlements on its Atlantic coast to the forests of its interior and its western boundaries.

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