From Your Town to Ours: Pennsylvania Prints from the O'Connor-Yeager Collection Revisited


From Your Town to Ours: Pennsylvania Prints from the O'Connor-Yeager Collection Revisited


June 4-August 11, 2013


Early in 1980, the Palmer Museum of Art presented an exhibition of works on paper from the collection of John C. O'Connor ('38) and Ralph M. Yeager ('42). Titled Pennsylvania Prints, the eighty-two lithographs, intaglios, and—somewhat contrarily—watercolors featured in the show were already quite familiar to many of the exhibition’s visitors; they had been selected from among the hundreds of images that hung on the walls of The Tavern on College Avenue in downtown State College, a favorite eating establishment founded by O'Connor and Yeager in 1948 while both were pursuing graduate degrees at Penn State.

Six years later, in 1986, the museum acquired the O'Connor-Yeager collection. A number of the prints have since been included in smaller exhibitions; however, From Your Town to Ours is the first time in more than thirty years that the full scope of the objects originally decorating The Tavern is represented. The majority of the sheets on display here offer panoramic vistas of Pennsylvania cities and villages, immensely popular during the latter half of the nineteenth century, for which the collection is perhaps best known. Soaring and at times stunning depictions of the state's major metropolitan areas, such as Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Reading, and Philadelphia, abound; however, also included are views of smaller towns that, here in central Pennsylvania, are just as well known, places like Altoona and Tyrone, Bellefonte, Clearfield, and Lewisburg. Complementing these bird's-eye spectacles is an array of images documenting the history of Pennsylvania, ranging from the founding of the state by William Penn to the burning of the Cumberland Valley railroad bridge at Harrisburg and the catastrophic Johnstown Flood.

As delightful as the dinners John O'Connor and Ralph Yeager once served their customers at The Tavern, From Your Town to Ours offers museum visitors a veritable feast—a feast for the eyes. As one of the essays in the 1980 exhibition catalogue put it, the collection presents "a pictorial travelogue of communities throughout the Quaker State."


Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University


John C. O'Connor and Ralph M. Yeager, Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University


These images are posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted.

Collection Items

Altoona and Tyrone, Pa., 1881
Double views are relatively rare, especially in the case of Altoona and Tyrone, which are not adjacent to one another but rather separated by some fourteen miles. The Pennsylvania Railroad may have been the common denominator. Altoona, of course, was…

Bellefonte, Pa., 1878
The decision to capture a town in print was often exciting news, and local newspapers, seeing the venture as an opportunity to stimulate the growth of the community, regularly reported on the projects with enthusiasm. When C. J. Corbin traveled to…

This bucolic view of Bethlehem captures the still relatively small town just after the Lehigh Canal was constructed, though the canal is virtually impossible to detect from this vantage point. In the foreground, the group of three people converse on…

Joseph Ritner
Albert Newsam, one of the leading artists working for Peter Duval’s lithography company, specialized in rendering portraits on stone. Here he reproduces a painting by John Francis of Joseph Ritner, the eighth Governor of Pennsylvania who in 1938 was…

View of the Water Gap and the Columbia Glassworks, River Delaware
The small town of Columbia, New Jersey, viewed here from the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River (looking north toward the Delaware Water Gap), was created by New York businessman Francis Myerhoff. In 1812, Myerhoff purchased the property and…

This picturesque town on the Susquehanna River, located about halfway between Harrisburg and the Pennsylvania state line, was almost the nation's capital.

In 1730, John Wright, an evangelical Quaker who had settled in the area to preach to the…

Furnace Grounds of Jacob Black and Sons
While the maker and publisher of this lithograph remain a mystery, we do know something about its subject. Jacob Black was one of the most successful iron masters in Clarion County. In 1833, he built a furnace a few miles southeast of Shippenville…

An Attempt to Burn John Harris
In 1705, John Harris, originally from Yorkshire, England, was granted a license to trade along the Susquehanna River near the Susquehannock village of Peixtan, also known as Paxton (today the borough of Paxtang). By 1710 he had set up a trading post,…

The Great Conemaugh Valley Disaster—Flood and Fire at Johnstown, Pa.
On May 31, 1889, the South Fork Dam on the Little Conemaugh River in southwest Pennsylvania, which held back the Lake Conemaugh reservoir, about fourteen miles upstream from Johnstown, failed after an unusually torrential rainfall. A little after…

Harrisburg, Penna.
In 1850, Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania since 1812, hosted a single railway, constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which ran just east of the city, paralleling the Pennsylvania Canal. Within three decades, around the time this…
View all 63 items