Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




James P Whittenburg


The process of creating the colony of Pennsylvania began with the granting of a charter by King Charles II to William Penn in 1681. However the formation of Pennsylvania was not limited to the words of this or other official documents. Many people formed the province through both everyday actions and extraordinary events. and importantly, people involved in the Pennsyvlania project employed both material "toolkits" and language about the material world to stake a place for the new territory within the Americas, Britain, and the world in the seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries.;This dissertation examines how William Penn and his contemporaries used the material world and language about it to promote the province of Pennsylvania. In particular, Penn's use of the built environment and landscapes, foods and other natural resources, and maps and natural philosophy are examined as case studies for the intersection between material life and ideology in forming a new geographic and political entity.;Previous scholarship has often examined William Penn through the lens of politics and religion, resulting in a view of the founder as removed from material interests. But examination fo Penn's own words and documents relating to his life suggests that he not only held a deep interest and involvement with material concerns, he viewed management of the material world as central to his religious, political, and social goals for the province of Pennsylvania and more broadly in his life.;In part, scholarship on the material world of William Penn and early Pennsylvania has been obscured by the fact that almost immediately following the death of Penn, people created a stereotyped figure of him representing idealistic political, social, and religious goals (although this was defined in many different ways and used to promote a host of competing causes). Even later imagery depicting Penn promotes this cartoon-like image rather than the complex and often controversial figure he was in reality. In addition, emphasis on scholarship after the mid-eighteenth century with particular focus on the American Revolution obscures a critical interpretation of the earliest period of settlement in Pennsylvania.;The process of remembering William Penn and early Pennsylvania (or forgetting that history) continues today through management of historic and cultural resources, as well as physical remembrances in the form of public monuments, parks, and visual representations. Creating and remembering Pennsylvania and its founders has always been, and continues to be a series of negotiations through words, images, and the material world.



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