Anisha Arora: A Whiff of History


Photography and Text by Anisha Arora, Copyright 2018


A Whiff of History


The Wharton/Penn bubble is real. My looming graduation in May made me realize that I have spent all my time at Wharton in the small bubble extending from Huntsman Hall in Center City to Rittenhouse Square. So, for this assignment, I decided to break the bubble and explore other parts of Philly.

Amid the beautiful cobblestone streets of Old City, lies the Betty Ross house where the first American flag was made. Betsy, originally called Elizabeth Griscom, was one of 17 children in the Quaker Griscom family in the 18th century. She was a trained upholsterer and had moved to the Betsy Ross house after eloping with her first husband. She faced one tragedy after another, from death of her first two husbands to deaths of most of her children, and later deaths of her parents and sister from yellow fever. She continued to run her fledgling upholstery business, while bearing all the tragedies, and was approached by George Washington in 1777 to make the first American national flag.

It was humbling and inspiring to hear Betsy’s story. Often, in the Wharton bubble, our small troubles seem so big and we often forget how fortunate we are for all the resources and opportunities we have been bestowed upon us. Betsy’s story reminded me to be more grateful for what I have.

One of the stories that spoke directly to Betsy’s character full of courage and love was her determination to work on the American flag, in spite of all the danger it placed her in. She considered this a dedication to her first husband, John Ross, who was a patriot and had died while fighting in the Revolution.

Through my photography, I tried to capture the essence of the Betty Ross house and the ordinary items that gave me a sneak-peek into what Betsy’s life looked like, including a view of her candle-lit room, where she would sit on her chair while working on the national flag.

History is everywhere in the nation’s first capital. One only needs to be willing to break the bubble every once-a-while.



About The Author: Anisha Arora is enrolled in the Graduate program, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Anisha Arora, click here


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