There’s information about bubble gum and Big Macs on a timeline of Pennsylvania history at the state capitol. Women and people of color? Not so much.
From 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, visitors to the Capitol building in Harrisburg can get a quick primer on the commonwealth’s history in its welcome center. In addition to the timeline, there’s a quiz where you stomp on floor mats to answer questions and displays of “fun facts.”
Featured on the timeline are milestones like the commonwealth’s founding, the completion of part of the PA Turnpike, the tragedy of 9/11, and the drilling of the first Marcellus Shale well. Just over a dozen white men are named on the timeline, including Philadelphia’s Walter Diemer — who invented Dubble Bubble (not Hubba Bubba, as the display states) — and Big Mac inventor Jim Delligatti.
Just one Pennsylvania woman is named in more than 40 entries: Hannah Callowhill Penn, who became Pennsylvania’s acting proprietor after her husband, William, fell ill.
Not a single person of color is mentioned by name.
The timeline ends in 2014, when the welcome center was re-opened after a renovation. According to a press release from the time:
… tens of thousands of dollars were saved on the project by using the talents of Capitol staff to do writing and research, produce high-definition videos, shoot photos and provide computer support.
Ok sure, saving money is great, but so is having a welcome center that’s representative of the commonwealth.
Below is the start of a list of suggestions for women and people of color whose accomplishments should be added to the timeline. This is definitely not exhaustive — have one of your own to add? Email us.
Born in Philadelphia, Anderson was the premier American contralto of the early 20th century. She made history when, after being denied the right to perform at the segregated Constitution Hall in D.C., she led a public concert at the Lincoln Memorial. She was also the first black woman to perform as a soloist at the Metropolitan Opera.