It's Fall?

The September program page is still up (because it's still September), and the October page is also available (and it will be updated as needed).

Photo of two story brick house with garden in the foreground and a bright blue sky
Photo of the George Rapp House at Old Economy Village taken from the garden by museum educator David Miller to document the roof project and a beautiful almost-Fall day (photo via Facebook)

We welcomed fall this week, not least because it helps us pin ourselves in time. And because Fall brings some beautiful changes to the landscape. I'm grateful for that in the midst of a lot of chaos and uncertainty. I'm sure that Trails of History sites will also share photos of the seasonal transformations that we see this time of year, documenting colorful leaves, autumn flowers, and the way the sunlight changes (see photo from Old Economy Village above). Be sure to follow your favorite sites on social media to enjoy these posts. Also, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources provides weekly updates on fall foliage around the state (visit DCNR website for updates).

Screenshot of online exhibit panel with photo of deck shoes
Screenshot of online exhibit panel, Deck Shoes worn by E. Jackson Taylor aboard the USS Franklin

The Pennsylvania Military Museum has launched a new online exhibit, The Long Road to Victory: Heroism and Sacrifice in the Pacific, 1945. This exhibit is part of the museum's series of exhibits and programs that began in 2016 to mark the 75th Anniversary of U.S. involvement in World War II. The exhibit features 14 artifacts from the museum's collection along with the personal stories that go with them. You can find the exhibit on the museum's website (exhibit link).

Display mannequin with black judicial robe
This robe was worn by Clarion County native Genevieve Blatt during a career on Commonwealth Court that spanned nearly 20 years (photo via Facebook)

In response to the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday and in tribute to her role in advancing women's rights, The State Museum of Pennsylvania posted about another pioneering female judge, Genevieve Blatt. From the Facebook post: "Like Ginsburg, Blatt rose through the ranks in politics and law in an era when both were male dominated and as a judge championed women's rights. Previous to her bench appointment, Blatt had been a mainstay in Democratic Party politics and a true game changer, having been the first woman in Pennsylvania to win state wide office. As Commonwealth Court Judge, Blatt issued a precedent setting ruling that banned gender discrimination in high school sports."

Coming up in October, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania will be offering "STEAM on the Rails Virtual Education Program" (STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). On each of three days (Oct. 13, 20, 27), there will be four 30-minute presentations, for a total of 12 opportunities for students in grades K-6 to explore STEAM topics. In addition to museum staff, presentations will include other Trails of History program partners (Anthracite Heritage Museum/Eckley Miners' Village, Cornwall Iron Furnace, Drake Well Museum and Park, and the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum), blacksmith Frank Gillespie, and Operation Lifesaver. Registration is by donation and entitles you to all 12 presentations. The Facebook event has the registration link and session times.

Late last week, the American Association for State and Local History, which is holding its annual conference virtually this week and next, issued a statement on the role of history in a democracy. Those interested in reading it can find it on the AASLH website.

Wooden gates open onto a garden with a brick path leading to a brick-enclosed well in the middle. Plants grow in raised beds and along fence lines
View of Pennsbury Manor garden in late summer (photo via Facebook)

I'll leave you with a link to a video posted by Pennsbury Manor this week. Jessye the gardener talks to us about hops and shows us how they are harvested from Pennsbury's garden. I knew that hops were used in beer brewing (and that's what Pennsbury's will be used for). But I didn't know they had medicinal uses and could be made into a sedative as well. You'll find the video on Pennsbury's Facebook page.

It's What We Do

Please check out the September program page for online events (I've highlighted a few below). Online offerings ranging from coloring pages to jigsaw puzzles to videos are available 24/7 in the Trailheads Rec Room (to the right on your screen).


Zoom screen with three people on top row and two on the second
Drake Well Museum and Park and the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum co-hosted a live event for Ask A Curator Day on Wednesday (screenshot from Facebook video)

This has been a busy week. I've spent a lot of time talking with colleagues about the work we do, which is what inspired the title and brief content for this week's post. Much of the discussion has been around the work we are doing (with much more to be done) to foster and support inclusive work environments and to make sure that we are truly welcoming and inclusive places to visit (both in person and online). At a meeting of PHMC's Equity and Inclusion Team, we explored how issues of diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) should inform the agency's latest strategic plan.

I met with colleagues from the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums and the PA State Archives to discuss an upcoming conversation about inclusive collecting (part of a new monthly series of staff conversations on topics related to museum work in the 21st century). And I attended a DEAI training led by Cecile Shellman, who has an extensive background working at a range of museums and now consults on equity and inclusion for museums around the country. I also spent time with my colleague at Pennsbury Manor, Mary Ellyn Kunz, recording a short session on virtual programs for teachers and students that we'll be presenting for a meeting of Trails of History site administrators and educators next week. To say that my brain is full is an understatement. But I'm also feeling optimistic about the energy of so many PHMC staff and volunteers to do the hard work of making our sites, programs, and collections a true reflection of Pennsylvania's diversity and complex history.

My colleagues were also (in addition to attending these meetings) showing the public what they do and what it means to preserve and interpret Pennsylvania's history:
  • For Ask a Curator Day (Sept. 16), staff from Drake Well Museum and Park and the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum took part in a conversation about museum collecting via Zoom and Facebook Live (that's what the photo at the top of the post is from). If you'd like to catch a replay, you'll find the video on Facebook.
  • For Welcoming Week (Sept. 12-20), an annual series of events where neighbors, immigrants, and long-term residents come together in a spirit of unity, staff at Ephrata Cloister have been sharing stories and letters of immigrants who helped start the town of Ephrata - highlighting the history of immigrants and Ephrata's collections (you can check the first post of the week on Facebook and then find the rest).
  • In tribute to Civil War historian Ed Bearss, who passed away earlier this week, PA Military Museum site administrator Tyler Gum wrote a blog post reflecting on "What Makes a Professional."
  • After having to cancel their signature Mountain Craft Days event this year, Somerset Historical Center filled the weekend with posts about the history of the event and scenes from the past (Facebook photo album)
  • This year's Art of the State exhibit at The State Museum of Pennsylvania is online. You can find a 360 degree view and take a virtual tour by visiting the museum's exhibit page.

Black & white photo of men in baseball uniforms. Pennant in front says P&R Shopmen 1922
P&R Shopmen Baseball team 1922 (via Railroad Museum Facebook page)

The Week Ahead

  • Sept. 20-27, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum Online Auction Preview--this fundraiser supports the Farm Program and Heirloom Seed Project (animals and gardens need ongoing care even if the site is closed to the public). Online bidding will take place Sept. 28-Oct. 5. Visit the Facebook event for details.
  • Sept. 23, Virtual Happy Hour: Sports--join staff from the Railroad Museum, Anthracite Heritage Museum, Eckley Miners' Village, and the Pennsylvania Military Museum for a live chat about sports-related objects in their collections. Offered via Zoom. Tickets for this event are by donation (drink recipe included with ticket). Visit Facebook event page for details and ticket link. 7-8 pm.

Thank You for Your Support

Please be sure to visit the September program page for info on virtual programs (I've highlighted some below as well). The Trailheads Rec Room, to the right on your screen, has examples of online offerings that are available all the time.

Revolutionary War era reenactors in formation, firing muskets.
Revolutionary War reenactors at Brandywine Battlefield (photo via Facebook)

Today marks the 19th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. To commemorate those events and the 243rd anniversary of the Battle of Brandywine, Brandywine Battlefield is presenting their annual Remembrance Day program tonight at 6 pm. This year, it will be via Zoom and includes first-hand accounts of the Sept. 11, 1777 battle read by period interpreters. The Facebook event has details and a link to join the program online.

Next Wednesday, September 16, is Ask a Curator Day, a social media initiative engaging museum professionals all over the world. Curators at Drake Well Museum and Park and the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum are planning a Zoom/Facebook Live collaborative event at 4 pm (check the Facebook event for details). As I hear about other plans on the Trails of History, I'll add them here as well.

Facebook event graphic for Ask A Curator day 2020. It includes photos of two curators and info for event.
Facebook event graphic for Drake Well Museum and PA Lumber Museum Ask A Curator Day event, Sept. 16 at 4 pm EDT (via FB)

Other events in the coming week include:

  • Sept. 12, 10 am-4pm, Railroad Museum of PA: "Railroad Heritage Day" features presentations and virtual tours focused on the history of railroad stations (check the Facebook event for details and registration link)
  • Sept. 13, 2 pm, The State Museum of Pennsylvania: "53rd Annual Art of the State Exhibit" will be launched in its online form and the award winners chosen from among participating artists will be announced (check the Art of the State landing page for details)
  • Sept. 14-18, noon-1:30 pm, Pennsylvania State Archives: "Community History Dialog," a series of lunchtime discussions (via Zoom) to help community-based organizations learn how to collect and preserve their history (session details and registration)
  • Sept. 15, 7 pm, Cornwall Iron Furnace: "Cornwall's Pre-History," presented by Mike Weber via Zoom (link for registration)

You can help...

With the COVID-19 closures continuing on the Trails of History, the nonprofit support groups at our sites are facing very tough times. All of our sites are working hard to continue to meet their missions of preserving and sharing Pennsylvania's rich heritage with the public. Over the past six months (geez, it's been six months already), they have shown a great deal of creativity in moving programs and content online. That creativity will only increase in the months to come, and you'll be seeing more programs that involve multiple sites working together. But the loss of major summer events and fundraisers (not to mention peak summer visitation) is being felt everywhere. If you have a favorite site and can afford to do so, please consider a donation (most can accept these via their websites) or an online museum store purchase. Or check out one of these fundraisers:
  • Bushy Run Battlefield: you have until 11:59 pm tonight (sorry) to purchase a raffle ticket to win one of 30 prize baskets (link to purchase tickets). Winners will be announced tomorrow at 1 pm.
  • Ephrata Cloister: this year's Apple Dumpling Sale is mostly virtual, but the dumplings are still very real. Proceeds support the site's educational programs. Pre-orders only for pickup Oct. 9 or 10 (see Facebook event for details).
  • Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum: the annual benefit auction was canceled in April, but now it's happening online. Proceeds support the Farm Program and Heirloom Seed Project. Auction items available for preview Sept. 20-27, with online bidding taking place Sept. 28-Oct. 5. Visit their Facebook page for details.
  • Old Economy Village: the "Fill the Vault" campaign was inspired by museum educator David Miller's post about the Harmonists' money vaults (read more here). The site is making progress toward their goal of $70,000, but you could help them get there quicker (Facebook post with campaign info)
  • Pennsbury Manor: donate to support Pennsbury's educational programs by Oct. 31 and your donation will be matched, up to a total of $17,500 (Facebook post has the details)
  • Somerset Historical Center: Mountain Craft Days, a signature event in southwestern PA, had to be canceled, but you may still get a taste of some of the wonderful foods, if you can pick them up on Sept. 26. The Everything Apple Grab-n-Go package includes apple and pear butter, dried apples and dried corn, a variety of apples, and maple popped kettle corn. And you'll be helping replace some of the lost revenue from the event. Pre-order on SHC's website (ticket link here) to ensure you get your package; a very limited supply of unreserved packages will be available on the 26th for drive-through pickup.