We're Always Open for History

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); new material is added weekly so that you can see the most recent examples.

Although most of our sites' interactions with the public are online at the moment, they're still finding plenty of ways to share traditional activities and connect history to our current moment. Here are some of my favorites from the past week or so.

5 sheep graze with a stately home in the background. The sheep have been shorn for the summer and are all facing toward the left of the frame.
Pennsbury Manor's sheep got their summer haircuts this week (photo via Facebook)

Remember haircuts? At least the sheep on the Trails of History are ready with their summer looks, even if the rest of us mostly are not. Pennsbury Manor (above) and Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum (below) documented their activities.


Graeme Park shared some exciting new historical discoveries about what happened to Henry Hugh Fergussson after he left Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson on her own to deal with accusations of loyalty to the British during the American Revolution. I've shared one of the posts below, but there's more on their Facebook page.


In light of the History Channel's new documentary, Grant, the Pennsylvania Military Museum blog reflected on events happening 160 years ago.


Periods of high unemployment have happened before in the U.S. Ephrata Cloister shared an artifact from the Museum Extension Program that was part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression.


The launch got pushed off until tomorrow (May 30) due to weather concerns, but Drake Well Museum & Park's connection is just as relevant as it was on Wednesday.


Staff at Old Economy Village have used their time working from home to delve further into the history of the site. Recent posts (like the one below) have shed light on individual members of the community and on the Harmonists' interactions with other communal societies.


State Archivist David Carmicheal shared one of his favorite images from the collections and gave some tips on close-looking at details. That's a great way to spend a rainy weekend.

Memorial Day 2020

The May 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); new material is added weekly so that you can see the most recent examples.

Lower left corner is stone pillar with a metal cross on top. A red, white, and blue wreath has been placed next to the pillar. Behind there are stone steps and a stone wall with plaques honoring 28th Division members who died in World War 1 and World War 2
A single wreath placed at the 28th Division Shrine to honor those who gave their lives in service (photo: Pennsylvania Military Museum)
The annual 28th Division Celebration of Service (scheduled for May 17 at the Pennsylvania Military Museum) and most Memorial Day events have been canceled or seriously curtailed due to COVID-19. But that doesn't mean we can't honor those who gave their lives in military service. The staff of the Pennsylvania Military Museum have provided the material for this week's post, and I thank them for their help.

In an article published earlier this week, site administrator Tyler Gum suggested several alternatives for marking Memorial Day this year (excerpts are below - you can find the full text on the museum's blog):
  • "Perhaps the simplest way to mark this day is to take five minutes and silently reflect on the meaning of the day and to consider the profound sacrifice and responsibility of an all-volunteer military force....Our military members voluntarily join and serve their communities and nation. Consider the many layers of such reality, as a society and as citizens."
  • "...Visit your local library digitally or find an online book or journal...that recounts the harrowing details of brave men and women going into harm's way to preserve our way of life here on the homefront. The greatest way to honor those now gone is to never forget them - what better way than to learn their story?"
  • "Annual events at town centers, parks, shrines, and cemeteries may be canceled. However, visiting a local cemetery or shrine on your own time, or visiting the grave of a loved one that served (perhaps not even on Memorial Day itself) and taking a stroll through its grounds is a great option."
  • "For veterans quickly aging, like those from World War II and the Korean War, their battle-buddies may no longer be alive or well enough to lend a hand....Step in for their friends by calling them, writing them a card or letter or arranging for groceries or meals to be delivered. With precautions and safety in mind, if you're at a store, offer to reach something on the shelf or to load their car."

The museum blog is a great source of stories about military service. Museum curator Jennifer Gleim has added a number of posts exploring the museum's collections and sharing the personal stories they convey. The blog is indexed to make it easier to browse. You won't be sorry.

Tomorrow (May 23) at 2 pm, the museum will host an online lecture by historian Jared Frederick, on the topic "Operation Overlord (D-Day)." Tyler Gum will moderate a brief Q & A session after the lecture. The presentation is free (donations are welcome). It will be offered via Zoom, so you must register to get the link (visit the museum's calendar page for more info).

(A past Trailheads post (way back in 2013) introduced us to several Medal of Honor recipients from Erie; this seems like a good time to revisit that post. Or to take a look at last year's Memorial Day weekend post, from the before times.)

I will leave you with a Facebook post from the 28th Division. I hope that your Memorial Day is meaningful, in whatever ways you need it to be. Be good to each other.

The Museum Week That Was

PHMC's Trails of History sites remain closed to the public until the Green Phase, in accordance with Governor Wolf’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania plan. During the Yellow Phase, the grounds can be accessed for passive and dispersed recreation. Visitors are to follow the governor’s guidelines regarding masking and social distancing, and gatherings are prohibited.

The May program page lists a couple of virtual programs at this point, and it 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); new material is added to each page weekly so that you can see the most recent examples. This week there's a new page for Zoom Backgrounds.

Speaking of digital content, back issues of Pennsylvania Heritage magazine are now available online. Shameless plug alert: you'll find some of the Trailheads columns to enjoy as well.


So, this was a big week for hashtags, mostly because it was Museum Week on social media (not to be confused with International Museum Day, which is coming up on Monday - yeah, I know). But first, museums celebrated mothers and mother-figures.

#HappyMothersDay



Museum Week Monday - #HeroesMW


Museum Week Tuesday - #CultureInQuarantine


Museum Week Wednesday - #TogetherMW


Museum Week Thursday - #MuseumMomentsMW


Museum Week Friday - #ClimateMW

Museum Week Saturday - #TechnologyMW


Museum Week Sunday - #DreamsMW