“A Pennsylvania Album: Undergraduate Essays on the 250th Anniversary” is a book published in 1990 as part of Penn’s 250th Anniversary Celebration. Edited by history professor Richard Slator Dunn (seated with glasses) and University Archives Director Mark Frazier Lloyd (seated to Dunn’s right), the booklet contains 10 essays written by a diverse mix of Penn undergraduates that present a series of snapshot views of University history and student life from 1740 to 1990.
The album is full of paintings, prints, photographs, and other documents from the University Archives and Records Center, and was designed for the education and entertainment of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of Penn.
Dunn and Lloyd conceived the idea for the book in the spring of 1989, when a number of Dunn’s honors students worked in the Archives and produced a group of intelligent and provocative papers. Lloyd and Dunn approached the organizers of Penn’s 250th Anniversary Celebration with their plan for the publication, and the organizers agreed to provide funding.
Essay topics include Benjamin Franklin’s novel plans for an Academy in Philadelphia; an ironic account of the politics of the American Revolution at Penn; the founding of Penn Law School in 1850; the impact of the Civil War on the University; Penn’s move to West Philadelphia; the conception of the Quad; the social ostracism experienced by black students in the early 20th century; the social and academic environment of women students at a male-dominated University in the 1950s; and Penn’s relationship with its West Philadelphia neighborhood.
Lloyd says the album was a major breakthrough in the advancement of undergraduate research on campus, before the advent of undergraduate research hubs like the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.
“We spent a lot of time with these undergraduates helping them understand what it meant to do research in primary sources,” he says, “and how to sum it up and create a theme that came out of the investigations that each one of them had conducted in the primary sources.”
The book was released in May of 1990 and was well-received. In 1993, the entire freshman class received a copy of the publication (“It was hot,” Lloyd says). Thirty thousand copies were handed out during Commencement ceremonies.
For more information on this or other historical events at Penn, visit the University Archives website at www.archives.upenn.edu.