That Reminds Me of a Story

Please be sure to check the March program page if you're looking for things to do this weekend on the Trails of History.

Handknit socks by Ruth M. Davis, American Red Cross volunteer in WWII
(PA Military Museum, MM99.18.2A-E)
Last week's post in honor of Women's History Month, prompted staff at the Pennsylvania Military Museum to remind me of one of my favorite stories. I mentioned in last week's post that we are working on new exhibits at the Military Museum that will include the evolving roles of women in the military. The exhibits will also explore the home front - the wartime roles of civilians and families in Pennsylvania as well as Pennsylvania industries.

Ruth McDaniel Davis was newly married when her husband went off to fight in World War II. She went to work for the USO and volunteered for the American Red Cross. Like many women and girls on the home front, she knitted hats, gloves, and socks for soldiers (I remember my grandmother talking about knitting socks during World War I). In the 1990s, while helping Ruth pack up her house, her son found a bag with knitting instructions, needles and yarn, one completed sock, and one still on double-pointed needles (see photo above). He asked his mother why she didn't finish the second sock--she replied, "The war ended." She put the socks aside and went about the business of post-war life. The socks, yarn, needles, and instructions are now part of the Military Museum collections and are exhibited periodically.

Ruth M. Davis, circa World War II (PA Military Museum, MM99.18)

Charter Day Recap

As you probably know, every year on the second Sunday in March, sites on the Pennsylvania Trails of History mark the Commonwealth's birthday and celebrate the 1681 Charter that granted William Penn the land that became Pennsylvania. At The State Museum of Pennsylvania, the four-page original Charter goes on display for about a week and then returns to its special place in the Pennsylvania State Archives (see video of the Charter being brought out for exhibit). (The rest of the year, visitors to see a high-quality photographic reproduction of the Charter.) This year's "guest documents" were four Indian deeds by which land was given to William Penn and his heirs.

At Pennsbury Manor, 2018 marks the 300th anniversary of William Penn's death and staff will be particularly focused on Penn's legacy. For Charter Day, Pennsbury displayed a 1682 manuscript of "The Great Law," Pennsylvania's first governing document (read more in this Courier Times article.) The six-page manuscript will be on display through Tuesday, March 20, so there's time to stop by this weekend.

Two of six pages of William Penn's Great Law on exhibit at Pennsbury Manor for Charter Day 2018 (via FB)
Most sites on the Pennsylvania Trails of History were open free of charge on March 11 for Charter Day. You can find photos on Facebook of activities at Bushy Run Battlefield, Conrad Weiser Homestead, Ephrata Cloister, Hope Lodge, and Joseph Priestley House (I'll add others as I find them or visit your favorite site on Facebook to check).

Bushy Run Battlefield was open on Charter Day for the first time in a number of years thanks to dedicated volunteers and a highly organized high school intern. More than 400 people enjoyed museum and battlefield tours as well as (depending on their ages and interests) children's activities and samples from Bushy Run Winery (photo Bushy Run Battlefield)

Women's History Month

Please check the March program page for info on events this weekend, including Charter Day (Sunday, March 11). Don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour by 2 am Sunday (that is, the ones that don't do it themselves, cackling away like an Amazon Echo).

Floyd Schoonover, holding Mayme Schoonover, and Myrtle Sinsabaugh Schoonover
(PA Lumber Museum, 80.1.32, Bowers & Rawson Collection)
We're part way through Women's History Month, and yesterday (March 8) was International Women's Day, so this seems like a good time to take a look at women's history on and around the Trails of History (of course, anytime is a good time to look at all kinds of history). What follows is a series of "snapshots," not a comprehensive list of women's history as interpreted at our sites.

While the history of the lumber industry in Pennsylvania has been dominated by men, the exhibits at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum do include women and their role in logging and in the conservation movement. Efforts to add more women's history are ongoing (such as this story posted on Facebook). The photo above shows a logging camp foreman or jobber with his wife and daughter; women were present in the camps with their families and sometimes as cooks. The photo below shows a boarding house in Leetonia, one of the lumber towns featured in the museum's core exhibit.

Seymour Whitney's boarding house, Leetonia (Tioga County), 1893
(PA Lumber Museum, 76.25.3, Wilferd E. Whitney Collection)

In addition to interpreting the lives and work of anthracite coal miners, the Anthracite Heritage Museum also explores the textile industry, which employed women in lace factories and as garment workers.

Textile machinery on exhibit at Anthracite Heritage Museum (from website)

Pennsbury Manor's interpretation includes the lives of Gulielma Springett Penn (1644-1694) and Hannah Callowhill Penn (1671-1726), including their roles in supporting and sustaining William Penn's Holy Experiment (read more about Hannah and see a portrait in Pennsbury's International Women's Day Facebook post). The work of other women at Pennsbury, both enslaved, indentured, and free, is also an important part of the programming and exhibits at the site.

The skills and knowledge of open hearth cooking and baking are researched and interpreted at Pennsbury Manor (from Facebook)

Military reenactment and timeline programs at the Pennsylvania Military Museum include the evolving roles of women in the military. New interpretive exhibits currently in development will highlight the experiences of individuals in all branches of the military throughout the course of Pennsylvania history and include women serving on the home front and in conflict zones.

Interpretation at PA Military Museum's "Vietnam Revisited" program includes the role of women as medical personnel (via Facebook)

In related news...

Curious as to how many PHMC Historical Markers feature women or issues related to women's history? I was too, so I did a quick search and downloaded a list. Check it out.

The New York Times announced a project to publish obituaries for notable women whose passing was ignored in its pages at the time of their deaths. The first 15 obituaries in the "Overlooked" project include Ida B. Wells, Ada Lovelace, and Emily Warren Roebling (read all 15 and learn more about the project, including how to nominate a woman for inclusion).

National History Day has posted a preview of a larger project, "Women in American History," which provides resources for teachers to integrate women's history into their classes and encourage students to examine primary sources from colonial America to the present. Materials are available to download.

In honor of Women's History Month, Governor Tom Wolf's Facebook page features a video highlighting women who have made significant contributions to Pennsylvania and beyond (view the video).

On This Day in History - March 9

In keeping with this week's women's history focus (but I managed to get baseball in too)...
  • 1976 - 1st female cadets accepted at West Point Military Academy
  • 1979 - Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn orders teams to provide equal access to female reporters
  • 1990 - Dr. Antonia Novello sworn in as first Hispanic and first female Surgeon General

It's Spring...Or Is It?

The March program page is now up and running. I've highlighted some of this weekend's events below.

An early spring day in late February at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (via Facebook)
February ended with a taste of spring, but it looks like March will hit us with another blast of winter. [UPDATE: Erie Maritime Museum is closed today, March 2, due to the weather. Be sure to check ahead at any site if the weather in your area is looking bad.] Why does that always take me by surprise? Nevertheless, I enjoyed the warmth and seeing early spring views on Facebook, like the ones Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum shared earlier this week (see more like the photo above on Landis Valley's Facebook page).

Now that it's March, it's also Women's History Month. We'll keep you posted on women's history events on the Trails of History, and much of the ongoing interpretation at sites features women's work and their roles in their communities. In the meantime, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History blog this week featured a photo array of women's clothing that exemplifies a wide range of work roles for women through time. Worth a look, I think.

This weekend...(assuming we don't all blow away)

Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara
March 3: Pancake Breakfast—the Flagship Niagara League will host a pancake breakfast at Burch Farms Country Market in North East, PA. Cost is $7 per person and a portion of the proceeds supports the League's programs. Tickets are available ahead of time (see FB event page for details and menu). 7-11 am.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
March 3: Winter Learning for Adults—Scratched Eggs and Blacksmithing (not together). Information and online registration are available on the website.

“James Wilson – U.S. Army Recruit”  (photo credit – James Wilson)
Pennsylvania Military Museum
March 4: Friends' Lecture SeriesJames M. Wilson will recount his experiences in the U.S. Army in an illustrated talk entitled “Drafted into the Korean War.” 2-3 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
March 2: Storytime—visit Village Square to learn about kitchens of the past, make pretend pancakes, and enjoy a reading of Tomie dePaola's Pancakes for Breakfast. Included in general admission. 10-11 am.

On This Day (in Sports) in History - March 2

  • 1874 - The batter's box (brief definition) is officially adopted by the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (more than you ever wanted to know, about anything).
  • 1918 - The New York Yankees purchase the contract of 1st baseman George Burns from the Detroit Tigers and immediately trade him to the Philadelphia Athletics.
  • 1962 - Playing for the Philadelphia Warriors basketball team, Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points against the New York Knicks (there is a PHMC historical marker commemorating Chamberlain, who was born in Philadelphia).

February Roundup

If you're a planner, be sure to check out the list of Trails of History sites that will be open on Charter Day, March 11. The full March program page should be up next week (which is a good thing, since March starts next week.)

A week with a Monday holiday plus two days of training and meetings equals...say it with me...a Trailheads roundup!

Garden at Eckley Miners' Village (photo by AKF)
The folks at Eckley Miners' Village have installed a new lobby exhibit to supplement their long-term orientation exhibit. You can view the new exhibit, which focuses on daily life in the Village, in the Visitor Center during regular operating hours.

The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum posted about the role of African Americans in the Civilian Conservation Corps (1933-1942). Like the U.S. Army on which its structure was modeled, the CCC was racially segregated. It is estimated that roughly 10 percent of the 194,500 men who served at CCC camps in Pennsylvania were African American. You can read a much more detailed account in the post below (or find it on the museum's Facebook page).

Friends of Conrad Weiser Homestead President David Sonnen (via Facebook)
Friends of Conrad Weiser Homestead board members David Sonnen (above) and Lynn Otto (who I'm guessing took this photo) recently sat down with Jo Mercer of Y102 IHeart Radio in Reading. They were guests on Mercer's "Roundtable" program to talk about the upcoming season at the Homestead, which will reopen on Charter Day.

Okay, this isn't Trails of History as such, but he's still our only Pennsylvania President. The Library of Congress has announced that the papers of Lancaster's own James Buchanan (@POTUS15) and Harriet Lane Johnston, who served as her uncle's official White House hostess, have been digitized and are now available online.

This weekend...

Interior exhibit at Drake Well Museum and Park (via Facebook)
Tomorrow, Feb. 24, Drake Well Museum and Park offers this month's "Something More Saturday," which provides family-friendly activities in addition to the regular exhibits (see above). The theme is Games, so you know it will be fun. All activities are included in regular admission. The program runs 10 am-3 pm.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum has a half dozen workshops and programs on their "Winter Learning for Adults" schedule for tomorrow (Feb. 24). Space is still available, as far as I can tell from the website. You'll find the details and online registration on the website. Hurry!

February 28 is the last day to view the Anthracite Heritage Museum's African American History Month exhibit, "Granville C. Smith: African-American Business and Community Leader." The exhibit documents Mr. Smith's career in Scranton over a 34-year period as owner-operator of the G.W. Brown Company and influential member of numerous community organizations. The temporary exhibit is located in the museum lobby and is free of charge; regular admission rates apply to view the rest of the exhibits.

On this Day in History - February 23

  • 1868 - W.E.B. DuBois is born. DuBois wrote his first major book, The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study, in 1899 while teaching at the University of Pennsylvania; it was the first sociological case study of an African American community.
  • 1910 - The first radio contest takes place in Philadelphia. This national contest involved wireless telegraphers in "tests of speed and accuracy in receiving and transmitting American Morse telegraphic code signals via radio."
  • 1954 - Children at Arsenal Elementary School, Pittsburgh, are the first to receive Dr. Jonas Salk's polio vaccine.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

The February program page has info on upcoming events. Most Trails of History sites will be closed on Monday (Feb. 19) for Presidents Day, with the exception of (as far as I know) Fort Pitt Museum and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

Also, if you'd like a copy of PHMC's 2016-17 Annual Report (and why wouldn't you?), it is available online.

As you know, February is Black History Month. This provides an opportunity to focus particular attention on African American history and, I think and hope, a reminder that our history as Americans has always been multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-faceted. We need to hear and tell all of these stories to gain a fuller understanding of who we are as a nation, as a state, as local communities, and as families. Here are some highlights from the PHMC's Trails of History.

Granville C. Smith, Scranton business leader (via Anthracite Heritage Museum)
The Anthracite Heritage Museum has organized an exhibit entitled "Granville C. Smith: African-American Business and Community Leader," which explores Mr. Smith's business, social, and philanthropic involvements and his legacy in the community (read much more on the Facebook entry for the exhibit). The exhibit will be in place all month in the museum lobby; entry to view the Granville Smith exhibit is free (admission rates apply to visit the rest of the exhibits).


The State Museum of Pennsylvania's Black History Month exhibit, "Trailblazers: Notable African Americans in Pennsylvania History," is now a permanent feature in the East Wing of the Pennsylvania State Capitol. The exhibit features a broad array of men and women who have played significant roles in the Commonwealth's business, political, educational, and social realms. Virginia P. Florence (above), 1903-1991, was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. Mrs. Florence was the first African American woman to receive professional training in librarianship, enrolling at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library School in 1922. Her library career began at the New York Public Library and included work as a high school librarian in Brooklyn, NY, and Richmond, VA. (You'll find an album of Pennsylvania Trailblazers on the PA Trails of History Facebook page.)

Each year the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), founded in 1915 by Carter G. Woodson, sets an annual theme for Black History Month. 2018's theme, set to coincide with the centennial of the end of World War I, is "African Americans in Times of War."


Last weekend, Tyler Gum, director of the Pennsylvania Military Museum offered a lecture program, "They Fought Equally: USCT in the Civil War." The program highlighted the 11 Pennsylvania regiments of the United States Colored Troops, including their training at Camp William Penn (see historical marker above). One of the Pennsylvanians featured in the presentation was 1st Sergeant Alexander Kelly, Company F, 6th U.S. Colored Troops. Sgt. Kelly, born in 1840 in Saltsburg, Indiana County, was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions taken on Sept. 29, 1864, at Chaffin's Farm, Virginia. The medal citation reads: "Gallantly seized the colors, which had fallen near the enemy's lines, raised them and rallied the men at a time of confusion and in a place of the greatest danger." (You can read more about Sgt. Kelly, pictured below in post-war life, on the PA Civil War 150 website.)

Alexander Kelly (1840-1907) served with 6th USCT and was awarded the Medal of Honor

On Tuesday of this week (Feb. 13), I had the opportunity to attend a multi-agency event centered on the 2018 Black History Month theme, "African Americans in Times of War." The organizing committee for the program included Janee Corbin of The State Museum of Pennsylvania, and the program took place in the museum auditorium. Other agencies represented were the Governor's Advisory Commission for African American Affairs, Office of Administration, Dept. of Community & Economic Development, Dept. of Health, Dept. of Human Services, Dept. of Labor & Industry, Public Utility Commission, and the PA State Library. The program started with the Harrisburg School District's Naval Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NJROTC) Color Guard presenting the colors and the assembled speakers and audience singing the National Anthem. Governor Wolf appeared via pre-recorded remarks and representatives from the organizing agencies spoke on various aspects of the theme. Two members of the NJROTC talked about their interest in military service, followed by Brigadier General David E. Wood, Director of the Joint Staff for the Pennsylvania National Guard, and Colonel Korvin "Kory" Auch, Special Advisor on Veterans Programs to the Secretary of Administration.

Col. Auch introduced the keynote speaker, Chief Master Sergeant Trae R. King, United States Air Force, Retired, who now serves in a civilian capacity as Chief, Force Support Readiness Policy for the Air Force. She spoke briefly but movingly about her experiences in the military and about the ongoing work of securing civil rights for all Americans. The program, which I found both educational and inspiring, concluded with James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Every Voice and Sing," performed by the Earth Tones (a multi-agency chorus) and the audience. My thanks to all who organized and presented at this event.

On This Day in History - February 16

In honor of the cadets from Harrisburg High School who participated in this week's program at The State Museum...

What's New?

Please check the February program page for info on upcoming programs. The sledding party at Historic Pithole that had to be cancelled last weekend due to lack of snow is back on for tomorrow, Feb. 10 (more info on Facebook).

Pennsbury Manor wished the Philadelphia Eagles well in advance of the Super Bowl (via Facebook)
Go Eagles!! Professional football is not without controversy (I am the master of understatement), but I have enjoyed watching the genuine elation of the Eagles players and fans peaceably celebrating this long-awaited victory. Before the Super Bowl, there were the usual Big Bets between Philadelphia and Boston institutions, including museums (such as the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art or the American Revolution Museum and the Massachusetts Historical Society). Some Trails of History sites took to social media to wish the Eagles well and to highlight eagles in their collections (see above and below).

1837 Trade sign with eagle motif from Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum (via Facebook)

In 1943 (their only year of existence), the "Steagles" posted a 5-4-1 record (via America in WWII Facebook page)  
Did you know that in 1943 the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers played as one team? I'm sure some of you did. Because so many were serving in the military during WWII, men's professional sports teams were in need of players. One solution for football, at least for one year, was to combine Pennsylvania's two teams. That meant there were eight professional teams and a full season could be eked out. The result was the Eagles-Steelers, or "Steagles" (read much more in this PennLive article from 2016). UPDATE: a New York Football Giants fan has noted that the Steagles and Giants played twice in 1943, with a cumulative point total of Giants 56, Steagles 42 (but they each won one game). I also learned from some follow-up Googling that in 1944, the Pittsburgh Steelers merged temporarily with the St. Louis (Football) Cardinals and played games as Card-Pitt (or as this New York Times article notes, the "Carpets," because "opponents ran over them.")

Non-football items of interest...

Lancaster's Sunday LNP (newspaper) ran a feature on Feb. 4 spotlighting Railroad Museum of PA director Patrick Morrison. Pat began working at the museum in the late 1990s and was named director in May of last year.

Also in Lancaster, Ephrata Cloister's Winter History Class was included in an article on places to learn new stuff. For details on how you can take part in the class, which continues through March 22, visit Ephrata's website or Facebook page.

Anthracite Heritage Museum director, Dr. Bode Morin, was quoted in a recent Bloomberg article about Scranton's immigration history. The article notes that Scranton ranks #1 among U.S. cities for descendants of Polish, Welsh, and Lithuanian immigrants; #2 for descendants of Russian immigrants; and #3 for descendants of Italian, Slovak, Austrian, and Ukrainian immigrants. Morin is quoted on the shifts in immigration and the persistent mix of ethnic customs (including food) in Scranton today.

Last week, the Flagship Niagara League announced that a second ship will be joining the U.S. Brig Niagara at the Erie Maritime Museum. The schooner Lettie G. Howard is owned by the South Street Seaport Museum (NYC) and will expand sail training opportunities in Erie during this two-year programming collaboration (see FAQ on the website). posted an article on the collaboration as did (thanks Google Alerts) Both articles note that 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal, which linked commerce in NYC and the Great Lakes, including Erie.

William Penn Wisdom (via Facebook)
In order to reach teachers directly, Pennsbury Manor has started a dedicated Facebook page, Pennsbury Manor for Educators. This provides streamlined info on education programs and other offerings (including programs from other area organizations) to help teachers connect with Pennsbury Manor and William Penn beyond their field trip. The page is also designed to be a resource for teachers who can't physically visit the site.

On This Day in History - February 9

Settle in folks, we're going to be baseball-themed for a while...

A Busy Winter on the Trails of History

Please consult the February program page for upcoming events.

Regardless of what the various groundhogs saw earlier this morning (I schedule these posts ahead of time - I'll update when I can), we're approximately halfway through the winter. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Some sites on the PHMC's Trails of History are closed to the public over the winter and more of them reduce their hours. Often, winter (whether closed or not) is a great time to catch up on projects that go on the back burner during the busy summer season or that require more time and attention. That said, some sites ramp up their programming in the winter to provide visitors with alternatives to cabin fever. So here's a sampling of both. Enjoy.
Dave Smoyer whitewashing a fireplace in the Sisters' House, Ephrata Cloister (via Facebook)
At Ephrata Cloister, the site is open through the winter but it's a slower time. They recently posted a series of photos (including the one above) showing maintenance repairman Dave Smoyer doing repairs to whitewashed walls and fireplaces. According to the Facebook post, Dave has developed his whitewashing techniques through lots of practice: "White-Washing is a tricky process that has involved almost 14 years of trial and error. [Dave says] 'Put it on too thick and it flakes off. Too much water and it takes off the layer of clay beneath it. The trick is to put on a number of very light layers and eventually build it up.'" In addition to maintenance, Ephrata uses the bleak season for its popular Winter History Class, which features a wealth of speakers on a wide variety of topics (see details). And they're starting a new history discussion group, which debuts Feb. 7 (learn more on the Facebook event page). It may be slower, but it's not dull.

Curator Todd Galle cleaning collections at Pennsbury Manor (via Facebook)
Pennsbury Manor is closed to the public during January and February (some tours by appointment with one-week notice). Staff take the opportunity to do a thorough cleaning in the Manor House when they can dismantle the period room settings to get into every corner. They'll reopen to the public March 1.

Caulking the deck of the U.S. Brig Niagara, March 2017 (via Facebook)
Winter is also the time when the crew of the U.S. Brig Niagara perform annual maintenance on the ship. The ship is at its berth at the Erie Maritime Museum and is under winter cover. Maintenance work takes place on the ship itself and in the workshop on the museum's lower floor. The Erie Times-News ran an article on this year's maintenance earlier this week with lots of good info and photos.

Sledders take their turn down the hill at Pithole, 2014 (via Facebook)
Looking for outdoor winter fun? You can find it on the Trails of History. Lack of snow has (we hope temporarily) postponed the Sledding Party at Historic Pithole scheduled for tomorrow, Feb. 3, but be sure to check Drake Well Museum's Facebook page for updates. Next weekend, Feb. 9-11, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum will host a Snow-mobility event where folks can snowmobile from Susquehannock State Forest to the museum. There will be other activities as well. And yes, the weather will determine a lot of that. Find out more on the Lumber Museum's Facebook page.

On this Day in History - February 2

Two things that make me hope for spring:
  • 1876 - baseball's National League was founded
  • 1887 - the first groundhog day celebration

Random Acts of History, January Edition

The January program page will take you through the middle of next week. Then the February page takes over.

Some weeks there's a theme, some weeks [shrug]...

L to R: Ephrata Cloister Curator Kerry Mohn, Site Administrator Elizabeth Bertheaud, Historical Society of Dauphin County Board Secretary and Facilities Chair Ruthann Hubbert Kemper, Office Manager Courtney Inblum, and Executive Director Christine Turner (via Facebook)
This past week, a large (I mean, person-sized) rye straw basket made its way home from Harrisburg to Ephrata. It had lots of help from the staff of the Historical Society of Dauphin County (HSDC), where it had been living, and Ephrata Cloister, where it has now taken up residence. The basket's history traces back to the Gorgas family, prominent householders in the Ephrata community (they weren't living with the celibate brothers and sisters of Ephrata but worshipped and conducted business with them). Many thanks to HSDC for this important donation.

Kerry Mohn shows the newly returned basket to attendees of this year's Winter History Class (more photos of first class of 2018 and full list of this year's sessions)
Last weekend, the Anthracite Heritage Museum marked the 59th anniversary of the Knox Mine Disaster with a program that included speakers Bob Wolensky, Erika Funke, and David Brocca and musician Lex Romaine (see a preview of Brocca's forthcoming documentary film). I'm told it was standing room only for this annual event, which remembers the 12 miners who died when the Susquehanna River broke through the roof of their mine and the 69 others who escaped.

PHMC marker gets its closeup (photo courtesy Karen Arnold)
This one's really random. Wednesday night's episode of The Goldbergs (a sitcom set in 1980s Jenkintown, PA) ended with a shot of a PHMC historical marker. If you're not familiar with the show, it's based on creator Adam Goldberg's childhood in the Philly suburbs (and my sources tell me it's extremely accurate). In the show, the Goldberg kids attend William Penn Academy (complete with a mascot wearing a huge William Penn head). The vanity card at the end of Wednesday night's episode (actually a pilot for a 1990s spinoff that wasn't picked up) showed a photo of the historical marker for William Penn Charter School, which Adam Goldberg attended. The text of the marker reads: "Founded by Philadelphia Quakers in 1689 and first chartered by Penn in 1701, it was Pennsylvania’s first public school and is the oldest continuously operating Friends school in the world. Pioneering educational initiatives were based on public charity and inclusion: free tuition to the poor, education for both genders, and acceptance of all races. Quaker roots and Penn’s vision have been maintained. It moved to the present site in 1925." You never know what you'll learn watching tv.

Even more random. With an eye toward starting a "This Day in History" feature for this blog (sometimes you just have to shake things up a bit) I was trolling around for Pennsylvania history-related events or what-have-you for January 26. On different websites, I found separate but interestingly (to me, at least) juxtaposed items related to Chubby Checker, who grew up in Philadelphia (and appeared on American Bandstand there). On Jan. 26, 1962, Chubby Checker's mega-hit "The Twist" fell out of its #1 spot on Billboard's "Hot 100." On the same day, according to the interwebs, Bishop Burke of Buffalo, NY, declared the song "impure" and banned it from Catholic schools in his diocese. Also on this day, Benjamin Franklin expressed unhappiness over the eagle as America's symbol (1784) and General George McClellan ignored President Lincoln's General War Order #1, which called for a Union offensive (1862).

That's it. Have a great weekend!

Museum Selfie Day: A Retrospective

Please check the January program page for information on this weekend's events. Look for the February list (geez, already?) late next week.

Once again Museum Selfie Day has come and gone (this past Wednesday, Jan. 17). Did you participate? We had lots of selfies on the Trails of History. I've highlighted a few below, and you can find more on PHMC's Twitter account (@PHMC). To see selfies from other museums in PA, the U.S., and the world check out #MuseumSelfieDay.

Dillon took a selfie in the Visitor Center exhibit at Old Economy Village

Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here at Bushy Run Battlefield
Me with Retablo para Ruhamah by Marta Sanchez, State Museum of PA

An unofficial addition (or prequel) to this year's Museum Selfie Day was the sudden popularity of a new feature on Google's Arts and Culture app. Take a selfie using the app and Google uses facial recognition "mapping" to match your image to its collection of portraits from museums around the world. Some people like their matches, others not so much. I tried it with decidedly mixed results, including one try where it matched me with Frans Hals' Malle Babbe.

In addition to providing more ways to take selfies and connect them to museums, the app has also raised a number of issues, from privacy concerns, and more privacy concerns, to whether or not it really helps people engage with art, and the limited scope of matching images for people of color. It's a fairly clear and vibrant illustration of the important conversations going on about representation in museums. Let's hope the conversations continue.

More Farm Show and Other Stuff

The January program page has this weekend's events. Please note that most Trails of History sites will be closed on Monday, Jan. 15, for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The Railroad Museum of PA will be open (although they are generally closed on Mondays Nov.-March).

More PA Farm Show!!

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum volunteer Karen Gunderson with visitors at the 2018 Pennsylvania Farm Show (via Facebook)
Last week's post was focused on the various PHMC activities going on at the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show. I might also have mentioned the food. The Farm Show continues through tomorrow, January 13, so there is still time to learn about farm technology and agriculture or to search for your family's roots (and eat donuts).

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum has shared photos of visitors to their booth in the Main Hall, and PHMC posted video of our executive director, Andrea Lowery, demonstrating a piece of farm technology on display. You can also find photos and video of the State Museum's Archaeology display and the State Archives and State Historic Preservation Office "Find Your Story" booth (see below).

And Other Stuff...

Only because the weather is temporarily warming up am I willing to share this photo of the springhouse at Conrad Weiser Homestead. Although the site is closed to the public for the winter, they are posting periodically. This photo from their Facebook page shows that even though the weather last week was abysmally cold and the water bucket had a ring of ice, the spring was still flowing. I can only image how cold that water felt.

Source: Conrad Weiser Homestead Facebook page
Thanks to the Friends of Hope Lodge for the following: "On Wednesday morning, January 11, Historic Hope Lodge was featured on Philadelphia’s NBC10. The Morning Team's 'On the Road' segment was in Fort Washington, Montgomery County, to discuss businesses and organizations that make the area thrive. The short feature included video of both the interior and exterior of the historic mansion and included a brief interview with Friends of Hope Lodge board member and Volunteer Coordinator, Diane Horan, on the role the property played during the American Revolution and video from the annual 1777 Whitemarsh Encampment reenactment." I tried to find a video clip of the Hope Lodge visit but was only able to find the piece that introduced the overall segment (plus their visit to a local Wawa). The Friends provided a photo of Diane being interviewed.

Diane Horan explains Hope Lodge's place in the history of the American Revolution (photo Hope Lodge)

And finally a reminder that Museum Selfie Day (@MuseumSelfieDay) is coming up next week. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, museums and historic sites around the world will participate in this popular social media event. We're encouraging staff and volunteers at Trails of History sites to take part and hope that our visitors will as well. Please use #MuseumSelfie and tag the site and @phmc so we can share in the fun. On a related note, the Google Arts & Culture app now includes a feature that matches your selfie to works of art to find your doppelganger. It might be a fun thing to try on Museum Selfie Day. DISCLAIMER: I have not tried the app (yet) and am not responsible for your venture into facial recognition technology.

I found my own doppelganger on Museum Selfie Day 2017 with this portrait of Hannah Penn at The State Museum of Pennsylvania

PA Farm Show!!!

Please check the January program page for info on events. I'll be updating the page as 2018 calendars come online.

It's PA Farm Show time (Jan. 6-13)! And you know what that means. Arguments about whether "Farm Show weather" is a thing (given this week's weather - it's a thing). Decisions about which flavor of milkshake to buy. Crises of conscience (crisis of consciences?) about how many potato donuts is too many. And yes, I know, it's not just about the food. There's animals and farm equipment and cooking demos and feats of strength and lots of other good stuff (Farm Show Visitor's Guide).

And best of all, there's Pennsylvania history. (Well, not better than the potato donuts, but just as good.)

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum is at the Farm Show again this year (photo LVM)

Staff from Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum will be on hand this year with an exhibit titled "Power Technology - Yesterday and Today." The machinery included illustrates the many different power technologies available to individuals in the past and how many of these older technologies are making a comeback. Landis Valley curator Bruce Bomberger told me that the exhibit makes "the comparison with 100 years ago when, like now, there were a number of competing power and energy technologies also jockeying for consumer position. And we talk briefly about the many factors that affect the selection of one power technology over another."

The display includes 2 large early 20th-century gasoline engines, a horse sweep, a large model traction steam engine, and a Delco light plant (generator). A wooden tread power is belted to a butter churn; this could have been run by a child or small animal. Other types of machines that were belted to power sources include a corn sheller, fodder chopper, and feed mill.

You'll find the Landis Valley exhibit on the west side of the Main Hall (Maclay Street side of the Farm Show Complex) in Booth 607, near the Culinary Connection Stage.

Human-powered machines are just part of the display (photo LVM)

On the east end of the Main Hall, look for Booths 691 and 692 (near the carousel) to find other PHMC exhibits. The State Museum of PA Section of Archaeology will focus on "Foragers to Farmers: The development of agriculture in Pennsylvania." Their display includes the ever-popular dugout canoe, a corn grinding activity for children, and recipes for cooking wild foods.

Staff from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and Pennsylvania State Archives will help you "Find Your Story" with free searches and the Cultural Resources Geographic Information System (CRGIS). The popular Historical Marker Scavenger Hunt will also be in place this year. Read more on the SHPO blog. Please note that the State Archives Search Room will be closed Jan. 6-13 so that all hands can be on deck at the Farm Show. Regular Search Room hours will resume on Jan. 17.

To keep up to date with happenings at the Farm Show, you can visit their website, follow them on Facebook, or search the Twitter hashtag (#PAFS18).

That leaves just one sacred Farm Show topic we haven't addressed. "But you mentioned the donuts already." Okay, so there's more than one. The butter sculpture - love it or hate it, it wouldn't be the Farm Show without it. Penn Live put together a video of past sculptures (view it on YouTube if the video below doesn't play). If you can't make it in person, you can see this year's sculpture, unveiled on Jan. 4, on the Farm Show Facebook page.