Glen Foerd-Holy Family University Speaker Series Celebrates 10 Years of Sharing Local History

MCJ sizedThe Glen Foerd-Holy Family University Speaker Series is celebrating its 10th year of educating the community and sharing stories about local lure during the free educational events.

A partnership between the two institutions began in 2007, when then Executive Director of Glen Foerd on the Delaware, Patrick Hotard, approached Holy Family University about an educational speaker series.

Former Holy Family University President Sister Francesca Onley, current President Sister Maureen McGarrity, and Regina Hobaugh, former Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences all agreed that the speaker serious would be a benefit to the public, especially considering the rich history of Philadelphia and the surrounding Pennsylvania community.

The speaker series, now run by Dr. Mary Carroll Johansen, Professor of History for the School of Arts and Sciences, in conjunction with Erica Harvey of Glen Foerd, invites different lecturers to give presentations on Holy Family’s Northeast Philadelphia campus twice a year—once in the fall and once in the spring. The events are always free and open to the public.

Popular topics from the 2016-2017 academic year included two speakers who focused on industrial Philadelphia from the 1600s to the 2000s—Domenic Vitiello of the University of Pennsylvania and independent historian Jack McCarthy. Other topics included the American Civil War on Philadelphia, the development of Fairmount Park, the history of baseball in the commonwealth, and the rise and fall of industrial Philadelphia.

“These lectures drew a nice crowd, including many people who had worked in the factories that were once so plentiful in Philadelphia and who contributed some of their reminiscences during the question and answer portion of the evenings,” Johansen said. “From 2011 through 2015, we devoted our fall lectures to the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, which was a very popular topic. One lecture that really stuck with me was one of the first lectures in the series, given by Ira Rutkow, a professor of surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and a medical historian, who illuminated the slow development of antiseptic principles in medicine by explaining how former President James A. Garfield was really killed by his own doctors, who used unhygienic practices to search for the bullet after he had been shot by an assassin.”

Individuals interested in joining the Glen Foerd-Holy Family University Speaker Series email list are encouraged to send a message to Dr. Johansen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Information is also available on the groups Facebook page—Glen Foerd-Holy Family University Speaker Series.

“All of our speakers have been quite engaging and dynamic,” Johansen said. “They illustrate their lectures with maps and pictures and focus on the stories that make up our history. They also go really in depth about their topics, so even if you have good knowledge of the topic being discussed, you still have an opportunity to learn something.”