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.

Welcome to September

Be sure to check out the September program page for upcoming online programs. The Trailheads Rec Room (to the right of your screen) has samples of online offerings available anytime day or night.

Well, campers, this week got away from me, so today's post is even more random than usual. I hear some of you asking, "How is that possible?" Trust me, I have not yet reached my limits on randomness. Buckle up! Oh, and please celebrate responsibly on Labor Day. I know you will.
Large yellow moth with dark pink markings resting on the grass
An Imperial Moth photographed at Daniel Boone Homestead (photo via Facebook)
In honor of National Wildlife Day, here's a nature photo taken at Daniel Boone Homestead (they regularly post on #WildlifeWednesdays). According to the info posted, this "imperial moth of the family Saturniidae is one of our largest and most spectacular moths with a wingspan reaching up to seven inches. As with most moths the adult imperial moth is largely nocturnal but can be spied resting on trees, rocks or vegetation during the daytime. This example was spotted in a grassy area near the North Picinic Area." Although the historic buildings and visitor center at the site are closed, outdoor areas at Daniel Boone Homestead (and other sites on the Trails of History) are open for visitors during posted hours.

Multi-story brick building in upper right corner of photo. In forefront, several trenches have been dug for installation of pipes. Yellow caution tape blocks the trenches.
Trenches alongside the Frederick Rapp House at Old Economy Village for the installation of pipelines as part of a large preservation project (photo via Facebook)
Major building and collections preservation projects continue on the Trails of History. At Old Economy Village (see above) the work includes pipeline installation at the Frederick Rapp House and a new roof on the Feast Hall (visit Old Economy's Facebook page for additional photos of the ongoing work. At Cornwall Iron Furnace (see below) a stationary steam engine is undergoing needed restoration work. According to Cornwall's Facebook page, the work includes "cleaning the engine, fabrication and installation of missing oil cups, and repairs to the masonry and wooden base." The engine dates from the late 1850s but has had some modifications over the years. (You can hear site administrator Mike Emery talk about preservation and Cornwall history on a recent edition of the Practical Preservation Podcast.)

1800s steam engine rests on a stone platform. Wooden scaffolds are next to it to hold its weight during repairs.
1850s steam engine at Cornwall Iron Furnace, prepped for restoration (photo via Facebook)

Selection of artifacts related to pigeons used to carry messages (cages, message capsules)
Exhibit of artifacts related to the U.S. Army Signal Corps' use of pigeons to carry messages (photo via Facebook)
The staff at the Pennsylvania Military Museum have been using Facebook and their blog to share all kinds of interesting artifacts and stories from the collection. With a new season upon us, they're looking for input on what their readers might be interested in. They've posted on Facebook with room in the comments to suggest ideas or ask questions.

Well, that was August, I guess

The September program page is now available and will be updated as events are added. For online activities available 24/7, check out the Trailheads Rec Room (to the right of your screen).

August has been a blur, and I guess that's not unusual. But we're all dealing with some degree of upheaval and disruption, some of us more than others (I realize what an understatement that is). The Commonwealth of PA website has gathered mental health resources, if you're looking for some help with coping.

Life on the Trails of History continues - it's mostly online, but it continues. This has been a big week for anniversaries and commemorations.

Replica oil derrick with geese in foreground
Replica oil derrick at Drake Well Museum and Park (via Facebook)
Normally, Drake Well Museum and Park marks Drake Day (the anniversary of the first successful oil well) with an onsite program the weekend closest to August 27. Recent years have included a 19th-century traveling circus, with a glimpse of life in the oil region, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's "Spinosaurus Encounter," exploring the geology of the oil fields. This year's Drake Day featured an online presentation by museum curator Sue Beates, who recounted the history of the industry that started at Drake's well and the development of the museum.

A new monument in Harrisburg honors the Old 8th Ward, a predominantly Black and immigrant neighborhood that was removed to make way for what is now the Capitol Complex, home to (among many other state agencies) The State Museum of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State Archives, and PHMC's headquarters offices. The monument dedication was held on Wednesday to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment. (In 2015, one of PHMC's Keystone Interns wrote a guest post for Trailheads about a walking tour that included part of the Old 8th Ward.)

Yesterday at the Capitol Complex, we dedicated a monument honoring the city’s Old 8th Ward. This diverse and densely...

Posted by Governor Tom Wolf on Thursday, August 27, 2020


Last week's post (and the week before) included news about the commemoration of the 19th Amendment, which opened the way for women to vote. With the 100th Anniversary on Aug. 26, a number of sites posted in honor of the day, also known as Women's Equality Day.

The ratification of the 19th Amendment became official on August 26, 1920, but what came next? Following Pennsylvania's...

Posted by The Somerset Historical Center on Thursday, August 27, 2020

Today, on #nationaldogday and #womensequalityday, one of our research assistants decided to check out the autobiography...

Posted by Pennsbury Manor on Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The 19th Amendment and women's right to vote turn 100 years old today! We're honoring this milestone in American history...

Posted by Historic Ephrata Cloister on Wednesday, August 26, 2020

What's Up?

The August program page has a list of online events, including a couple of updates since last week's post. The September list will be available sometime next week. For online activities available 24/7, check out the Trailheads Rec Room (to the right of your screen).

View of wooden-sided two story building with a small wooden bridge closest to camera
View of (left to right) Bakery, Saal, and Saron at Ephrata Cloister (photo via Facebook)

The photo above shows a lovely scene at Ephrata Cloister. For a less familiar view of the site, check out the new drone's eye view video adorning the banner on Ephrata's homepage. It's well worth your time.

Collage of black and white photos showing scenes of people and oil wells. Text reads Memories to Museums
Graphic for Drake Day 2020 Virtual Lecture, August 27 at 7 pm

For the annual Drake Day event, commemorating the first successful well drilled for oil in 1859, curator Susan Beates will present an online lecture exploring the history of the Drake Well Museum and Park. The program is free and will be offered Thursday, August 27, at 7 pm EDT via Zoom, so you must register to get the link. Visit the Facebook event page for details and registration information.


Modern brick museum building with covered walkway in front
Erie Maritime Museum entrance (from website)

Congratulations to the staff and volunteers at the Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara for their recent Trip Advisor Travelers' Choice Award for 2020. The award is based on an accumulation of reviews and ratings. Recipients are in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.

Centennial of the 19th Amendment

Tuesday, Aug. 18, was the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says that the right to vote cannot be denied on the basis of sex. Last week's Trailheads included some links related to the centennial, including The State Museum of Pennsylvania's exhibit on the suffrage movement in Pennsylvania. Additional resources include the National Park Service's story map of historic places that are part of the suffrage story, the Institute of Museum and Library Service's blog post about how museums nationwide are marking the anniversary>/a>, and the National Museum of African American History & Culture's post about African American Suffragists.

And several posts from along the Pennsylvania Trails of History:

The #19thAmendment was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, when Tennessee’s approval met the requirement that amendments be...

Posted by Drake Well Museum and Park on Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment! The story of women's suffrage is a story...

Posted by Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The #19thAmendment was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, when Tennessee’s approval met the requirement that amendments be...

Posted by Pennsylvania Trails of History on Tuesday, August 18, 2020



A Few Peeks Behind the Scenes

The August page has a growing list of online events, including a couple of updates since last week's post. For online activities available 24/7, check out the Trailheads Rec Room (to the right of your screen).

View looking down a set of stairs. There is a door to the right at the bottom.
From Facebook post: "This is the money vault on display from the closet of George Rapp's bedroom. We have 'fake' money on display at the bottom of the steps. We believe the doorway to the right at the bottom of the steps led to George Rapp's alchemy lab." (photo via Facebook)

Earlier this week, Old Economy Village's museum educator, David Miller, posted some images of the site that I had (mostly) never seen before. I've spent some time at Old Economy, but I have not made it into some of the most secret places. As David notes, tours of the George Rapp and Frederick Rapp Houses provide visitors with information on money vaults used to secure funds the Harmonists accumulated to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (which they believed they would need sooner rather than later). Visitors get a peek at the entrances to those spaces but don't get to see very much. David's post includes the image above and half a dozen more. Well worth a look!

Architect's rendering of original museum building shows multiple sections, roadway, and surrounding countryside
Architectural rendering of the original Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania building. It has been expanded twice in the 50 years since it opened (image via Facebook)

Last week's post noted the 50th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, along with a number of other milestones. But I missed one from earlier in the year (what is time, anyway?). Next week, on August 17 at 7 pm, the staff at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania will present an online program marking the museum's 45th Anniversary, which fell in April. They'll provide an in-depth look at the museum's history, its growth (it looks very different now than the image above), and what lies ahead. The event is being offered on Zoom and is suitable for all ages. Tickets are $5 per person or for a group viewing on a single screen (so you can watch as a family, pod, or bubble for one low price). The Facebook event page has details and a link to Eventbrite for tickets.

Blue and gold state historical marker - title reads The Invention of the Jeep
State Historical Marker for the Invention of the Jeep (recently featured on the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation's Facebook page)

Looking ahead to the end of next month, if you want the inside scoop on state historical markers, the State Historic Preservation Office is planning a free one-hour webinar to share advice on how to submit a successful marker nomination. Historical Marker Program Coordinator Karen Galle will provide an overview of the marker program, explain the nomination process and criteria, tell you what to expect if your marker is approved, and offer tips for success. "PHMC's Historical Markers: Tips & Tricks for a Successful Nomination" is scheduled for 10 am on Sept. 30 (details and registration information).



The video above is part of The State Museum of Pennsylvania's "Perspectives" series. In this installment, museum director Beth Hager talks with Dr. Curt Miner, senior curator of history, for some background on a temporary exhibit, Why Not in Pennsylvania? Campaigning for Women's Suffrage in the Keystone State 1910-1920, marking the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For a more complete look at the exhibit, the State Museum's Facebook page has a two-part video tour of the exhibit led by the curator (part one and part two). For a look at the national story, check out #19suffragestories on Facebook, a collaborative project of the National Archives, Library of Congress, and The Smithsonian Institution. ADDED 8/14: The New York Times series, Suffrage at 100, presents stories of a diverse array of suffragists.

So Many Milestones

The August page has a growing list of online events, including a couple of updates since last week's post. For online activities available 24/7, check out the Trailheads Rec Room (to the right of your screen).

Large shrub with dark pink flowers and green leaves
A splash of color (photo by AKF)


This month - this week - included some important milestones and one that's not-so-historic but worth noting, I think (I'm sure you'll be able to tell which it is). Let's get started.

The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) announced this week that 140 cultural nonprofits across the state had received $780,500 in PHC CARES emergency relief grants to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on their programs and operations. Six Trails of History sites were among the awardees, for a total of $29,500 (grants ranging from $4,000 to $7,000). Congratulations to Ephrata Cloister, Graeme Park, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, Old Economy Village, Pennsbury Manor, and Somerset Historical Center!

PHMC's public portal for museum collections, ARGUS, now includes more than 10,000 entries. Curators on the Trails of History have used their time very productively, turning institutional catalog records into descriptions that convey the essential history of the objects. You can browse to your heart's content by visiting the PHMC website and clicking on Museum Collection (or use this link). And speaking of curators, Susan Hanna, who retired earlier this year after a storied career with PHMC, recently received a Special Achievement Award from PA Museums, our statewide museum association. UPDATE: my sincere apologies for neglecting to mention that Pennsbury Manor received an Institutional Achievement Award for their Gathering of Governors program.


100 Years - Ratification of the 19th Amendment


75 Years - Atomic Bombs Dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki


55 Years - The Voting Rights Act


50 Years - Pennsylvania Lumber Museum


11 Years - Trailheads Blog

August 1 marked the 11 year anniversary of the first Trailheads blog post. As far as I can tell, I failed to note the 10th anniversary last year. Since we'll be coming up on the 600 post milestone in the next month or so (and because the new Blogger format afforded me some additional stats), I've included the top 5 most-viewed posts. Only one of them was actually written by me, but that's fine. Really. Juuuuuust fine. But seriously, it's been a pleasure to work with staff and guest bloggers to help showcase the work of all the people who make the Pennsylvania Trails of History what it is. Thanks for reading. See you next week.

How Is It the End of July Already?

The July program page has info about today's registration deadline for Drake Well's Virtual Summer Camp and the Railroad Museum's Trivia Night tonight. The August page has a growing list of online events. For online activities available 24/7, check out the Trailheads Rec Room (to the right of your screen).

Collage of chalk drawings and messages at Graeme Park - includes a heart and messages thanking staff and saying how nice the site is
Since late spring, visitors enjoying the grounds at Graeme Park have shared encouraging messages in sidewalk chalk (via Facebook)
So, I blinked and apparently July is now over. This week got away from me, too. Folks at our Trails of History sites continue to keep in touch with the public through online programs (check the August calendar page) and social media posts. Below are a few that I'd like to share with you as you head into August (and the weekend). Today's focus (ahem) is on photos and other images.




Quick side note: Two summers ago, when Eckley was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the filming of The Molly Maguires, actress Samantha Eggar shared some thoughts with Eckley staff, and they shared them with Trailheads (June 2018 post).

The Week in Review

The July program page has info about online programs happening this weekend and next week (and a couple of deadlines for August programs). To help you plan ahead, I've also published the August page. For online activities available 24/7, check out the Trailheads Rec Room (to the right of your screen).

Screenshot of computer desktop with photos of online meeting participants arranged in 3 rows of 5 images
Members of the Accessibility Excellence Working Group during their online meeting (screenshot)

I spent yesterday afternoon meeting with colleagues working on the PA Museums and PHMC Accessibility Excellence project. PA Museums received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services last fall, and PHMC is partnering with them on this effort. We are developing an assessment tool to help museums and historical organizations measure their accessibility to the public and a resource kit to help institutions improve. As you might expect, COVID-19 has thrown us a significant curveball. On the upside, we have continued, with the leadership of project manager Jenny Angell, to refine the assessment and work to bring it in line with some other standards programs in the field. On the other hand, we had hoped by now to be piloting the assessment tool at PHMC's Trails of History sites. With uncertainty about when sites will reopen, we are considering a number of alternatives and (yes) pivots to keep the project moving.

Screenshot from online meeting showing shared document with rows of participants above
Online meetings allow for document sharing in addition to the Brady Bunch experience (screenshot)

On a related note, Sunday, July 26, is the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), landmark legislation intended to make employment, government services, and public accommodations fully accessible to people with disabilities. Clearly, the work to achieve that is still ongoing. As part of their "ADA at 30" compilation, the New York Times spoke with disability rights activists Judy Heumann, Alice Wong, and Haben Girma for an article titled "What the A.D.A. Means to Me" and provided an overview, "'Nothing About Us Without Us': 16 Moments in the Fight for Disability Rights." To learn more about disability history and disability rights advocacy, check out the Disability History Association or Disability Rights PA.

Two-story plus attic building with wooden siding, a central door on ground floor, a central window above it, two additional windows on first and second floors.
The historic Saal at Ephrata Cloister (photo via Facebook)
Singer, educator and musicologist Chris Herbert will be on NPR's Morning Edition today to talk about his recording project, "Voices in the Wilderness: The Music of the Ephrata Cloister," which includes works by the earliest-known female composers in America. Herbert describes the project:
"In order to create modern transcriptions of the music for the recording, I visited 22 libraries, collections, and archives throughout the world to study and photograph Ephrata music manuscripts. I got to spend time in the Library of Congress, and it was there that I realized that one of the largest Ephrata documents, known as the Ephrata Codex, contains inscriptions that offer proof of authorship by three women: sisters Föben, Hanna, and Ketura.
Since this post won't publish until about 20 minutes before you can hear Herbert on NPR, I'll add a link to the recording here when it becomes available (NPR link added 7/26/2020). In the meantime, you can sample some of the music, which was recorded at Ephrata in the historic Saal (meetinghouse) last year.

This week also marks the return (finally) of Major League Baseball, although greatly curtailed due to COVID-19. Pennsylvania Trails of History shared a relevant artifact from the State Museum of Pennsylvania collection.



And here's a selection of posts from the past week - I noticed a theme of different types of work. I hope you have a chance to rest from your labors sometime in the coming week.

The Great Outdoors

Please check out the July program page for upcoming online programs or take a look at the Trailheads Rec Room (to the right of your screen) for jigsaw puzzles, videos, and more.

A dark pink peony is in the foreground. In the background is a two-story stone house two chimneys and a covered porch spanning two thirds of the ground floor.
Daniel Boone Homestead on a beautiful summer day (photo via Facebook)
Although our Trails of History sites and museums remain closed, many have grounds that are available for visits during posted hours (and in accordance with guidance from the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health). The Commonwealth also has 121 state parks and 20 state forests that offer a range of outdoor activities (check their websites for details and remember that there are health and safety guidelines to follow). Thank you to my colleagues at Drake Well Museum and Park and the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum for the reminder that today, July 17, is Park and Recreation Professionals Day.

Although the outdoors is a great place to be, it's still not possible to offer our traditional events (or even plan them when COVID-19 causes so much uncertainty). The folks at the Anthracite Heritage Museum, faced with canceling the Arts on Fire event at Scranton Iron Furnaces, worked with their community partners to produce a video version. With interviews, footage of past iron pours at the Furnaces, musical performances, and a demonstration of stained glass art, they've offered a brief history of the Iron Furnaces and a glimpse of the event for folks who had to miss it. The video runs a little over an hour. You can watch it below or go directly to YouTube.



If you're interested in learning more about the comet (Neowise) that is currently visible over North America, the Franklin Institute posted some info. (For some historical perspective, you can read about the Great Comet of 1744 as documented in a book written and printed at Ephrata Cloister.)

And now, some posts about animals. Because who doesn't love photos of animals? I hope your weekend and the week ahead are filled with good things.




Just added...

One Thing Leads to Another

We have delayed reopening PHMC's Trails of History sites, which includes The State Museum of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Archives, until further notice. The July program page lists online events that you may want to check out; updates on site schedules will also be made there.

See if you can follow my train of thought (spoiler alert: it's not a long train...or a high-speed one for that matter):

Left third of image shows rows of white archival boxes on metal shelves. Right two-thirds is close-up view of one box with a label detailing the contents. Heading on label is Pennsylvania State Archives
Rows of archival boxes at the Pennsylvania State Archives (photo via Facebook)
On July 22 and 29 at 10 am, join archivist Josh Stahlman for free webinars on PHMC's Historical and Archival Records Care (HARC) Grants. Stahlman, grants manager for the HARC program, will provide a brief overview of eligibility and guidelines and offer tips for a competitive proposal. Questions will be answered throughout the presentation. Register online for either date.

In early June, the Science History Institute partnered with the American Philosophical Society to present "Deciphering the Past: An Introduction to Transcription." The webinar provided an overview of transcription projects going on around the country. It also explored issues related to transcribing historical documents and the nuances of different types of documents. It includes a transcription exercise near the end. Whether you're actually transcribing or not, there are some useful tips for deciphering manuscript documents. The webinar lasts about an hour - you can watch it below or go directly to YouTube at your leisure.




This spring Sarah Buffington, curator at Old Economy Village, posted a call for volunteers on Facebook to help with a data entry project. OEV has typewritten lists of Harmony Society correspondence that had been compiled over the years, but they needed help entering the information so that it can be searched and sorted by staff and other researchers. Sarah tells me that the Facebook post garnered several volunteers, who have worked on the project remotely during the COVID-19 closures. Thanks to these volunteers, the amount of work still to do has been greatly reduced. Kudos!

Typewritten list of names in alphabetical order by last name
Excerpt from Old Economy Village list of Harmony Society correspondents (photo via Facebook)

The Science History Institute identified their transcription webinar as being part of a new social media initiative called Museum Survival Kit, which seeks to share the skills and knowledge that museums and historic sites preserve and interpret and show their relevance to the challenges we currently face (the tagline for the project is "Our Ancestors Knew Some Stuff"). If you're interested in learning more or contributing to the kit, visit the Museum Survival Kit website or find them on Twitter (@MuseumKit) or search hashtag #MuseumSurvivalKit on Facebook or Twitter.

Trails of History sites are actively engaged in researching, preserving, and sharing historical knowledge with audiences of all ages. The pandemic has interrupted public programming and school visits, but the work continues. I'm inspired every day by my PHMC colleagues who are so dedicated to helping people connect to the past in tangible ways that can lead to greater insights.

Here's an example of a program for younger audiences from Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara:

And because it's Friday, a little something from Pennsbury Manor for the over 21 set: a demonstration of 17th-century beer brewing and a conversation about historic and contemporary beer, breweries, and brewing. Enjoy!

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.