Changes are Coming

The July program page is up and running; it has info on virtual programs scheduled for this month. We'll try to keep it updated to reflect site reopening plans. You'll also find links to each site's Facebook page to check out online offerings. Trailheads Rec Room (to the right of your screen) has pages for various online offerings. New this week is the Collections Gallery, with Facebook posts related to objects, photos, and documents in our collections - there's also a link to PHMC's online collections portal.

Stone wall with garden bed in front filled with herbs
This herb garden at Conrad Weiser Homestead says "summer" to me (via Facebook)

So here's what I know. As of July 3, all Pennsylvania counties are in the "green zone." Lots of things are opening up, some are pausing, and some are closing again because COVID-19 hasn't released its grip. Our Trails of History sites are busily working on plans and guidelines and changes to keep everyone safe. UPDATE 7/7/20: reopening Trails of History sites has been delayed . We plan to start reopening sites the week of July 20; please stay tuned to PHMC's website and social media channels (such as Facebook). Individual site schedules will vary (many with reduced hours), so you'll need to be sure to check with your favorite site to see what's up.

Reddish-brown stone building to right, a walkway with wooden structure covering it is perpendicular. The sky is a vivid blue with puffy white clouds.
The Charcoal Barn (Visitor Center) and Connecting Shed at Cornwall Iron Furnace on a stunning summer day (via Facebook)

It's Fourth of July weekend, and we still need to be careful out there. Most (all?) big events and festivities are off the calendar. Despite the fact that Trails of History sites have not yet reopened, many have grounds that are open to the public during posted hours. We ask that you follow all posted guidelines and practice social distancing (from people you don't live with - or maybe from them too, amiright?). If you have a picnic or bring pets along, please bag your/their trash and take it with you. As long as everyone looks out for each other, our sites are great places to enjoy some relaxing time in the summer weather. (If you visit the grounds at Hope Lodge, they've made their cell phone tour available on their Facebook page, so you can still learn a little history while you're there.)

The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum had to cancel their popular Bark Peelers' Festival this year, but they've produced short videos with some of their usual demonstrators to bring some of the festival to you. Curious about how a shingle mill works? You can watch a demo from home. Stay tuned to the museum's video page on Facebook for more. (You might also enjoy this Trailheads post about the event in 2018, when the museum dedicated Bob and Dottie Webber's cabin.)

If fishing is your sport, Saturday is your lucky day. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has declared July 4 a "Fish-for-Free Day" on Pennsylvania waterways. No fishing license is required, but all other fishing regulations apply (visit the Fish and Boat website for details).

Some of you may be planning to watch the filmed production of Hamilton that is streaming on Disney+ as of July 3. I know I am. (If you enjoy a side order of commentary with your viewing, Historians at the Movies (follow #HATM) and the cast and crew of Hamilton (#Hamilfilm) are hosting a Twitter Watch Party starting at 7 pm EDT on July 3.) I wrote about my late-to-the-party encounter with the musical's cast album back in July of 2016. That post seems like a very long time ago, but I think it holds up.
"So, I spent the 4th of July listening to the album and totally get what the big deal is (my opinion, your mileage may vary). It was a fitting reminder of the heroic and yet complicated, messy, sometimes ugly, origins of our democracy and the importance of helping our visitors understand that life was not "simpler back then." And that we are all part of the continuum of history. "Hamilton," for all of its cultural phenomenon-ness, is also an object lesson: when history is presented as a compelling story, with an eye and ear to the intended audience, people respond. We can't create blockbuster musicals at our sites, but our staff and volunteers strive all the time to forge emotional and intellectual connections between the present and the past and to shed light on the human strengths and weaknesses we share with our collective ancestors. It's frustrating work sometimes (most of the time?), but it matters."

I hope you have a chance to spend time with family and friends in ways that keep you all healthy. I think all of us can take some time to reflect on our history and how it shapes our present. It's a moment and a movement for living up to what we can be. Together.

Wrapping Up the Month of June

Please check the June program page for info on virtual programs happening this weekend, including Pennsbury Manor's online version of their popular Brews & Bites food and beverage event. The July program page is also available, with a preview of online programs, including virtual summer camp programs at Erie Maritime Museum and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. Looking for other at-home activities? Visit the Trailheads Rec Room for ideas (links are to the right of your screen).

Most of frame is two-story brick manor house, white fence and two white-sided smaller buildings are seen to right of frame
The Manor House at Pennsbury (left) with outbuildings (photo via Facebook, credit Leah Jeffers)
Last Friday's post shared info on numerous programs and activities scheduled to mark Juneteenth 2020. Pennsbury Manor partnered with the African American Museum of Bucks County to present an online program focused on the history of Juneteenth, the Emancipation Proclamation, and interpreting the stories of enslaved people at Pennsbury in the 17th and 18th centuries. If you missed it, the recording is available on Pennsbury's Facebook page.

Young African American woman seated for the camera. She is wearing a blue shirt and large red earrings.
Screenshot of performer and playwright Marissa Kennedy, who explained and presented a first-person interpretation of Susannah Warder, an enslaved woman born and raised at Pennsbury during the Juneteenth virtual program.
If you're interested in learning more about the history of slavery in colonial Pennsylvania, Graeme Park shared their research in a series of posts on Friday (first post is below - check Graeme Park's Facebook page for the additional posts).

June is Pride Month, and recently the PA Trails of History Facebook page shared a 2019 post from the State Historic Preservation blog looking at the history of the Stonewall Uprising (last year was the 50th anniversary), the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Pennsylvania, and several Pennsylvania sites associated with LGBTQ+ history (read the blog post). Readers might also be interested in a new book, Out in Central Pennsylvania: The History of an LGBTQ Community, by William Burton with Barry Loveland (our former PHMC colleague). The book was published by Penn State University Press, but check with the LGBT Center of Central PA for a copy.

Black and white photo showing wood-sided buildings - facing front is a long dormitory-type building with two storys and attic dormers. At a right angle is a smaller meeting house. Text reads Hidden Knowledge at Ephrata.
Text reads: Hidden Knowledge at Ephrata. Special thanks to Dr. Jeff Bach for his assistance in preparing this virtual exhibit (photo via Facebook)
The staff at Ephrata Cloister have launched Hidden Knowledge at Ephrata, a new virtual exhibit exploring the multifaceted religious world view of the Ephrata community. It includes numerous sources of knowledge and philosophy and shares their impact on the belief systems of the Conrad Beissel and those who followed him. You can find the exhibit on Ephrata Cloister's website (link to exhibit).

As part of their deeper dives into Harmonist history, Old Economy Village staff recently shared a series of posts exploring literary figures who wrote about the Harmonists. While first debunking an old story that Charles Dickens had visited Economy during his American travels, they shared literary works and letters from Rudyard Kipling, Lord Byron, and Nikolaus Niembsch von Strehlenau (an Austrian poet). The Dickens post is below; visit Old Economy's Facebook page to see the others.

Celebrating Juneteenth 2020

The June program page has information on the status of Trails of History sites and lists some virtual programs. It also contains a full list of links to Trails of History Facebook pages so that you can continue to enjoy our digital offerings. You'll also find some of those offerings in the Trailheads Rec Room (see links in the sidebar to the right of your screen). 

On June 19, 1865, Union troops reached Galveston, Texas, ending Confederate control and bringing the Emancipation Proclamation into effect, ending slavery for nearly 250,000 enslaved Black people in Texas. Juneteenth was celebrated by these newly freed Texans to mark the end of slavery in the U.S. and, over 150 years later, continues as a celebration of freedom. In 2019, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation making Juneteenth a state holiday in Pennsylvania (see this year's statement from the Governor's office).

Brick manor house and white clapboard outbuildings are seen through trees
The Manor House (left) and outbuildings as seen from the nature trail at Pennsbury Manor (photo by Lynsey Lehr via Facebook)

Juneteenth on the Trails of History

As with just about everything else related to history and museums these days, Juneteenth 2020 celebrations are happening online, most scheduled for today and the rest of the weekend. Pennsbury Manor and the African American Museum of Bucks County (AAMBC) had planned an on-site program to mark the occasion, but have turned to Zoom to offer a virtual event this afternoon at 4 pm. For more than 20 years, staff has been researching and interpreting the presence of enslaved Black people at Pennsbury. Earlier this year, with a grant from the Living History Centre in Novato, California, Pennsbury staff began working with Philadelphia-area playwright and performer Marissa Kennedy to develop and present a first-person interpretation of Susannah Warder. Kennedy's presentation is designed to engage school students (and others) with Warder as she tends to the laundry and talks about life as an enslaved person at Pennsbury. Marissa Kennedy will present this new interpretation as part of the Juneteenth virtual event. The program, which features other historical presentations from AAMBC and Pennsbury, will take place live via Zoom (see Facebook event for details) and will also be recorded for later viewing.

Four white-cast figures in museum exhibit arranged around a table with a drying rack behind. One man carries wooden buckets using a yoke across the back of his neck.
This laundry scene from the visitor center exhibit at Pennsbury tells the story of Jack (enslaved at Pennsbury) and his wife, Parthenia (enslaved in Philadelphia). Pennsbury's museum educator, Mary Ellyn Kunz, worked with Historic Hudson Valley (HHV) on an emotionally powerful video portrayal of Jack and Parthenia's story, which you can (and should) watch on HHV's website
On the Pennsylvania Military Museum's blog today, site administrator Tyler Gum shares stories of the U.S. Colored Troop (USCT) during the American Civil War, with a focus on soldiers with Pennsylvania connections. (Find the full blog post on PMM's website.)
"In 1863 General Orders 143 established the US Colored Troop. By this time, there existed two units, however this Order made such service officially recognized. Pennsylvania brought forth eleven USCT units, using Camp William Penn as the training grounds. Camp William Penn was located in Cheltenham Township (near Philadelphia) from 1863 to 1865. Pictured [below] is the PHMC Historical Marker and original camp gate. This Camp is most notable for being the first such designated camp for USCT in the Army. It is reported that more than 10,000 free and escaped enslaved men trained here. This figure includes 8,612 Pennsylvanians – the most of any Northern State."

Two stone pillars with a wrought iron gate between them. A blue and gold state historical marker stands to the right.
This gate marks the entrance to Camp William Penn with PHMC historical marker to the right (marker text and more info)

More Juneteenth Virtual Celebrations and Online Resources