State Museum to Display William Penn’s Charter on Pennsylvania’s 332nd Birthday

HARRISBURG – The original Penn Charter that established Pennsylvania in 1681 will be on display for one week only at The State Museum of Pennsylvania. The document will go on display on Charter Day, March 10, which is the 332nd birthday of Pennsylvania.

In 1681, England’s King Charles II used the charter to grant the land that is now Pennsylvania to founder William Penn. It is sometimes referred to as the state’s “birth certificate” and was Penn’s personal copy.

“The charter is a tangible link to Pennsylvania’s founding,” James M. Vaughan, PHMC executive director said. “The fragile historical document is exhibited only once a year and for a very short time in special protective cases with low light and controlled temperature and humidity levels.”

Also on display will be a Civil War era note written by Gov. Andrew Curtin on June 16, 1863, ordering the defense of Pennsylvania’s border from “the Rebel Invader.”  The document underscores the anxious days just before the Battle of Gettysburg, as General Lee’s Confederate army crossed the Mason-Dixon Line. 

The Charter and Curtin document will be exhibited from March 8-17.

On Charter Day, programming runs from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Admission is free and includes visits to the Curiosity Connection, Planetarium and special tours led by Harrisburg Sci-Tech High students.

Guests can meet “William Penn” as portrayed by William C. Kashatus and hear tales of bygone days from storyteller “Pennsylvania Jack.”   The Victorian Dance Ensemble will also perform.

PHMC staff and professionals from the region’s many historical societies will also be available to answer questions.  Pennsylvania’s 2012 National History Day winners will also attend.

In addition to the State Museum’s programming, many historic sites and museums along PHMC’s Pennsylvania Trails of History® will offer free admission on March 10.

Participating sites include:

  • Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum
  • Brandywine Battlefield Park
  • Bushy Run Battlefield
  • Conrad Weiser Homestead
  • Cornwall Iron Furnace
  • Daniel Boone Homestead
  • Drake Well Museum
  • Eckley Miners ‘ Village
  • Ephrata Cloister
  • Erie Maritime Museum
  • Graeme Park
  • Fort Pitt Museum
  • Joseph Priestley House
  • Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
  • Old Economy Village
  • Pennsbury Manor
  • Pennsylvania Military Museum
  • Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania  
  • Washington Crossing Historic Park

For more information on Charter Day 2013, call 717-772-3257 or visit PHMC online at

The State Museum of Pennsylvania, adjacent to the State Capitol in Harrisburg, is one of 25 historic sites and museums administered by Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as part of the Pennsylvania Trails of History®. The State Museum offers expansive collections interpreting Pennsylvania’s fascinating heritage.

With exhibits examining the dawn of geologic time, the Native American experience, the colonial and revolutionary era, a pivotal Civil War battleground, and the Commonwealth’s vast industrial age, The State Museum demonstrates that Pennsylvania’s story is America’s story.

For more information on The State Museum, visit

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