Privileged to Serve: Speakers and Presidents Pro Tempore of the Senate

Privileged to Serve: Speakers and Presidents Pro Tempore of the Senate

Did you know that for most of its early history, the Pennsylvania Senate was not led by the President Pro Tempore or the Lieutenant Governor, but rather by the Speaker of the Senate?

Hailing from many regions across the Commonwealth, the public servants featured in this case have one thing in common; all served as Leaders of the Pennsylvania Senate.

This exhibition explores the people who have led the Pennsylvania Senate — as both Speakers and Presidents Pro Tempore — and how they dedicated their time in public service to fulfilling their legislative mission.

The case begins by introducing visitors to the history behind the role of Pennsylvania Senate Leader, and then highlights the service of two historical Senate Leaders — Speaker Jesse R. Burden, M.D. from Philadelphia, and President Pro Tempore Edward E. Beidleman, Esq., from Harrisburg.

  • Caricature of Edward E. Beidleman. Reproduction. Courtesy of Historical Society of Dauphin County.
  • Campaign Buttons from PA Senate Campaign of Edward E. Beidleman. On loan from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives.
  • Invitation letter to inauguration of Edward E. Beidleman as Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. On loan from Historical Society of Dauphin County.
  • Legislative Journal of the Pennsylvania Senate, 1832-1833. Senate Library Collections.
  • Official Lieutenant Governor Portrait of E.E. Beidleman. Reproduction. Courtesy of Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee.
  • Photograph of George H. Cutler. Reproduction. Courtesy of Senate of Pennsylvania.
  • Sketch of Jesse Burdon, M.D. From History of Central High School of Philadelphia. Franklin Spencer Edmonds. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1902. Reproduction. Courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Library.
  • Sketch of the Honorable Richard Peters II. From Black, Nellie Peters, ed. Richard Peters: His Ancestors and Descendants, 1810-1889. Atlanta: Foote & Davies Company, 1904. Reproduction. Courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Library.
  • Sutherland's Legislative Handbook, ca. 1830. Senate Library Collections.


The Senate Library's goal for this exhibition is to have all visitors experience a journey – from the Senate of the past to the Senate of today – learning the following along the way:

  • Since its creation in 1790, the Senate of Pennsylvania has strived to meet the legislative needs of the Commonwealth’s citizens.
  • The Institutional work completed by the Pennsylvania Senate is historically valuable and currently relevant, and supports past and current legislatures.
  • Historically, the Senate Library has been indispensably involved with the Institutional legislative operations of the Senate.
  • Currently, the Senate Library serves the legislature and the public as a reference library and gatekeeper of the Senate’s Institutional and legislative past.
  • The leadership of the Senate has evolved over time to reflect the needs of an ever-changing Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania Academic Standards (met in whole or in part by the Senate Library's exhibitions)

Note: *The text for the standards are written (with the occasional exception of field-specific language) at the sixth grade level, hence the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Grade 6 are used to support the exhibitions.

Exhibition Team

  • Megan Martin, Secretary and Parliamentarian of the Senate
  • Evelyn Andrews, Librarian of the Senate, Senate Library
  • Jess Rodic, Assistant Secretary of the Senate
  • Sarah Greenwald, Project Manager, Office of the Secretary of the Senate
  • Donna Wheeler, Administrative Assistant, Senate Library
  • George Soule, Administrative Assistant, Senate Library
  • Amy Gregory, Legal Intern, Office of the Secretary of the Senate

Other Organization and Individuals: David Craig, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee; Jason Wilson, Historian, Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee; Kathy Hale, Government Documents Librarian, Pennsylvania State Library; Iren Snavely, Rare Books Librarian, Pennsylvania State Library; Kevin Spangenberg, Librarian, Pennsylvania State Library; Jesse Noonan, Digitization Technician, Pennsylvania State Library; Heidi Mays, Director, House of Representative Archives; Jennifer Ott, Research Analyst, House of Representative Archives; Ken Frew, Research Librarian/Acting Archivist and Curator, Historical Society of Dauphin County; Christine Turner, Executive Director, Historical Society of Dauphin County Staff; Madi Wolfe, Photographer, Republican Communications.