Episode 8 of Philadelphia: The Great Experiment (1720 to 1765) aired Jan. 8 on WPVI-TV. The multi-format historical documentary television film and internet project presents the story of Philadelphia as a stage for the “unfurling and testing of American ideals,” as the first city to codify freedom of religion, individual rights, trial by jury and democratic assembly. “By using Philadelphia as an outstanding example of the urban crucible, viewers will not only understand Philadelphia better, but will appreciate the meaning of being American more fully,” the web site states.
Hemphill, a historian with expertise in that period, spoke about William Penn’s and Ben Franklin’s Philadelphia in the Philadelphia studios of History Making Productions, where former mayoral candidate Sam Katz is executive producer. She appeared early in the episode at the beginning and later as a voice-over. She was also interviewed in a Philadelphia Inquirer article on the series in which she discusses Franklin’s influence in Philadelphia.
Hemphill said she recommends the series for viewing, and liked the episode.
Hemphill is in the History Making Productions advisory group on a series in development called Women of Philadelphia. She is the historical consultant on the Revolutionary-era episode.
Raised in Philadelphia, Hemphill received her B.A. from Princeton and her Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brandeis University. She is a Senior Research Associate at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and the editor of Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. She has written two books: Bowing to Necessities: A History of Manners in America, 1620-1860 (Oxford, 1999), and Siblings: Brothers and Sisters in American History (Oxford, 2011), in addition to articles and reviews. She has received research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies and has taught an NEH seminar on using Philadelphia to teach American history.
In addition to teaching courses on colonial, Revolutionary, and Civil War America, women’s and family history, and the history of Philadelphia, she is teaching a special American History seminar this spring, Philadelphia Stories: People, Places and Varieties of History in America’s First City.