Monthly Lectures

Monthly lectures are usually held on the third Saturday of each month (except in the summer and December), at 2:00 PM at the Community College of Philadelphia's Main campus in Center City Philadelphia, PA. Exceptions are noted below.
NOTE: The Community College of Philadelphia is now requiring visitors to sign in with photo ID. This includes PhACT meetings. Please allow extra time when coming to meetings to complete this process.
Parking is available for $4.00 in the college parking garage on 17th St. The garage is open until 6 PM.
Click here for a campus map.

PhACT thanks Dr. David Cattell and the Philadelphia Community College for providing us with an excellent meeting space.

The general public is more than welcome to attend our lectures. You do not need to be a PhACT member to attend.
For more information, contact Bob Glickman at
Executive meetings are held prior to the monthly lectures, at 1:00 p.m. Any member may attend.

Upcoming Meetings

Saturday, February 17, 2018 - The Confederate Vaccination Crisis of the Civil War

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Community College of Philadelphia, Room C2-28 Details
Speaker: Robert D. Hicks
The Confederate southern states experienced several smallpox epidemics during the American Civil War, blaming the disease on the Union northern states. Confederate doctors responded by vaccinating soldiers but then discovered that some vaccinations were ineffective (“spurious”) and instead spread other diseases, particularly syphilis. This presentation considers how the Confederacy managed vaccinations and tried to solve the numerous spurious cases. His illustrated tale includes the deliberate infection of children on plantations as a source of vaccine, and allegations of vaccination poisoning in the conflict’s only war crimes trial. In a surprising convergence of history, a museum collection, and current disease research, a detective story concludes the presentation!
Robert D. Hicks, PhD, is the director of the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He also directs the F. C. Wood Institute. Formerly, he supervised exhibits, collections, and educational outreach at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. He has worked with museum-based education and exhibits for over three decades, primarily as a consultant to historic sites and museums. This work led Robert to obtain a doctorate in maritime history from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom. Concurrent with the museum consulting, Robert worked for the Commonwealth of Virginia as a senior program manager in criminal justice, providing managerial assistance throughout the state. Earlier, he performed criminal justice work in Arizona, and obtained B.A. and M.A. degrees in anthropology and archaeology at the University of Arizona. He also served as a naval officer with the U.S. Naval Security Group. His most recent book is Voyage to Jamestown: Practical Navigation in the Age of Discovery (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2011).

Saturday, March 17, 2018 - TBD

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Community College of Philadelphia, Room C2-28 Details

Saturday, April 21, 2018 - Hip Hop and the Illuminati

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Community College of Philadelphia, Room C2-28 Details
Speaker: Rob Brotherton

Saturday, May 19, 2018 - PhACT Expedition to Laurel Hill Cemetary

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: On site Details
At 2:00 PM at Laurel Hill Cemetery at 3822 Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia.

In 1837 necessity drove John Jay Smith to create a new kind of cemetery in Philadelphia. Not that there weren’t already cemeteries. There were more than seventy of them in what we now call Center City. They stood in the way of progress and they were absolutely sure to prove tiny and inadequate for the city’s future population.
So Smith bought acres a few miles north of the city in an area that he expected to remain forever rural. He hired John Notman -- later to be a famous architect but then just a young immigrant from Scotland -- to lay out what the Victorians called a picturesque landscape. It would have gently curving paths, groves of trees, and splendid views of the Schuylkill. Later this rural cemetery would provide one of the important models for New York’s Central Park.
A Quaker, Smith may not have realized that his beloved trees would soon be supplemented by elaborate monuments of stone. And I mean elaborate: a model of the doorway to Moyamensing Prison for a prominent prison reformer, a mausoleum carved into a rocky hillside for an Arctic explorer, and a mother with children in her arms for a woman who died in childbirth.
We will see Victorian monuments and we will see such striking modern ones as a huge candle to light the darkness and a giant microphone for a beloved sportscaster. And we will stop at the grave of the Philadelphia photographer who, way back in 1839, took the first selfie.

Meeting Point: The Gatehouse at 3822 Ridge Avenue
Time: 2:00 P.M.
Suggested Contribution: $15 for historic preservation of the monuments.

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