Second Sunday at the Mansion!

A presentation by author Todd Mealy

on William Howard Day

Sunday, February 8

at 2:30 pm


Our Second Sunday at the Mansion series continues with a program by historian and author Todd Mealy, on William Howard Day (1825-1900), African-American community leader. The lecture entitled, "Professor Day: William Howard Day and the effort to desegregate Pennsylvania's public schools in the post-Civil War era," will concentrate on Day's participation in the effort to reform public education in the second half of the nineteenth century. Mealy is the author of Aliened American: A Biography of William Howard Day, 1825-1900. It is the only biography written about Day, who is the namesake of a cemetery in Steelton and housing development in Harrisburg.  


The presentation will be on Sunday, February 8 at 2:30 pm. Todd Mealy's new book, Legendary Locals of Harrisburg, will also be available for purchase. A suggested donation of $5 is requested. Admission is Free for members of the Historical Society of Dauphin County. A tour of the Harris-Cameron Mansion will be offered at 1:00 pm. The Research Library of the HSDC will also be open 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.  Free parking is available in the lot behind the mansion.






When William Howard Day was a young boy, he witnessed his father, John, die in a tragic shipping accident along the New York Harbor.  His mother, Eliza, who lost other children, made a courageous decision to give him up for adoption so young Day could receive a quality education.  She said to her son, "education was the only way to keep poppa's sails soring."  Day heeded his mother's advice by investing five decades in the field of education.  After attaining a Bachelor's and Master's degree from Oberlin College, a Doctorate of Divinity degree from Livingstone College, he became one of Pennsylvania's leading education advocates.


Day arrived in Harrisburg after the Civil War. He had been working as the Superintendent of Schools for freedmen in Maryland and Delaware. He said, "the greatest need that I saw [was] the need for education." As a paid orator for the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League, he was tasked to recruit activists for the equal rights movement and to lobby the commonwealth's legislators into desegregating Pennsylvania's schools.  In part, this was achieved in a Crawford County Court decision in 1881, and re-enforced by an act of the general assembly that same year.



The Harris-Cameron Mansion was built c. 1766 by John Harris, Jr., one of the founders of Harrisburg. In 1863, it was purchased by Simon Cameron, Lincoln's first Secretary of War and later Ambassador to Russia. Cameron transformed the Georgian house into a stylish Victorian mansion and lived there until his death in 1889. The house became the headquarters of the historical society in 1941.


The Historical Society of Dauphin County was founded in 1869 to collect, preserve, exhibit, publish, and promote interest in the history of Dauphin County for the education, enjoyment, and benefit of the public. For more information about our programs or becoming a member, visit, call 233-3462, or e-mail






The mission of the Historical Society of Dauphin County is to collect, preserve, exhibit, publish, and promote interest in the history of Dauphin County for the education, enjoyment, and benefit of the public.


               Click here to learn about Historical Society membership!             

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Historical Society of Dauphin County

219 South Front Street

Harrisburg, PA 17104



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