Changes are Coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrapping Up the Month of June

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

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

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



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

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

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

Celebrating Juneteenth 2020

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



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

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

Juneteenth on the Trails of History

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

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

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

More Juneteenth Virtual Celebrations and Online Resources

Ongoing Responsibilities for Our 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.

Last week's post, "Time to Listen and Think," contains a far-from-exhaustive list of resources for those wanting to learn more about anti-racism, history, and museums. I'll add another that became available this week: the American Alliance of Museums has shared the recording of a conversation that took place during their virtual conference last week. Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole (National Council of Negro Women Inc. and Baltimore Museum of Art), Lonnie G. Bunch III (14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture), and Lori Fogarty (Oakland Museum of California) spoke together about "Racism, Unrest, and the Role of the Museum Field." On a related note, this week the Smithsonian announced the receipt of a $25 million grant in support of their new "Race, Community, and Our Shared Future" initiative (press release from SI website).

PHMC's Trails of History sites are responsible for preserving tangible remains of Pennsylvania history and the stories and people connected to them. Here are a few examples that came up in my news feed this week:

Time to Listen and Think

The June program page has information on the status of Trails of History sites and lists some virtual programs, such as the Railroad Museum's Trivia Night tonight. 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.

If you, like me, have a lot to learn about where we find ourselves as a society, to (as Andrew Plumley notes in the piece linked below) "become comfortable with being uncomfortable," there are many places to start. Here are a few:


The Facebook post above is from the National Museum of African American History and Culture and links to their new web portal, "Talking About Race."

Museum Education Roundtable's blog offers a list of ideas and resources.

Andrew Plumley, Director of Inclusion at The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), wrote this advice "For Museum Leaders Who Want to Do Better," but much of it is applicable to any of us, wherever we are.

Museums and Race compiled a reading list for those of us wanting to learn more.

La Tanya Autry and Mike Murawski started the "Museums Are Not Neutral" movement several years ago, and you can read more about that on Autry's Art Stuff Matters blog.

The Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations, in an email earlier this week, shared a list of 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice, by Corinne Shutack on the blog, Equality Includes You

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

Curating from Home

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 online 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 gets added so that you can see the most recent examples. This week there's a new page for Videos, Virtual Tours, and Playlists.

Today's post is the third in a series from Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums curator Rachel Yerger. Rachel has been sharing insights and behind-the-scenes peeks at PHMC collections and the work that goes into caring for and learning about them ("A Glimpse Into Our Collections" on March 27 and "Focus on Collections - Mining PPE" on April 10).


Seated woman to left is entering info in a laptop computer as man standing to right describes a ceramic pitcher
Rachel Yerger, left, working with David Dunn to inventory collections at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum in 2018 (I think)
How has the coronavirus changed the way a PHMC curator works? One big change is that many of us don’t have regular physical access to artifacts (total bummer). Don't worry, we are working with our site colleagues to make sure that the collections areas are secure and the environment is stable. But, since we don't have easy access to artifacts, our daily functions have pivoted slightly. Some curators have taken this time to work on research projects, write blogs, and update collection records. While many of these things aren’t quite as much fun as working with artifacts, this time at home has given us the opportunity to move forward with a major PHMC initiative, creating a publicly available online artifact database (which you can find by clicking the "Museum Collection" icon on PHMC's homepage).

Screenshot of the landing page for PHMC's online collections portal - headline text reads Explore PHMC's museum collection
Landing page for the Museum Collection portal (link to landing page)
A few years ago, the PHMC shifted to a new web-based collections management system. One major benefit of this system is that it allows us to publish artifact records online. Many curators are using this time at home to publish records for your viewing pleasure! Since our sites themselves aren’t currently accessible, we hope that these online collections will be a way for us to stay connected with the public, provide some comfort, and most importantly, allow us to share the story of Pennsylvania with a broader audience.

Screenshot of an online collections record for an iron stove plate - there is a small image in the upper left corner, to the right is information about the object
This is what a typical record looks like, with a thumbnail image and information about the object
Generally, when creating a record, we try to make sure to include a photograph of the artifact, a physical description, dimensions, date, and manufacturer/artist. When possible, we add some background information on the object, such as who owned it, how it was used, or why we think it is significant. This isn't always possible for each artifact, but we try to include as much information as we can before the record is published. We hope that the information provided in these records will help both researchers and history enthusiasts alike. The most exciting part of our online catalog is that many of these artifacts might not ordinarily be seen on exhibit, so it provides a behind-the-scenes look at PHMC's collections.

Screenshot of the search bar for the online portal - there are small images for featured items and instructions for how to search
This is the search page - you'll find featured objects and instructions on how to begin your search
There are over 4,500 records currently available, and that number is continuing to grow. You can use the search bar to search for specific types of objects, or you can peruse by site or featured object groupings. The site is a work in progress, and we welcome feedback and suggestions about what we have published, or what you might want to see published. So, take a look and let us know what you think!


It's Not All Fun and Games

There is a lot still to be determined about what the next months will look like on the Trails of History. Governor Wolf's phased plan to ease the stay-at-home orders officially kicks in next Friday, although some recreational and construction activities start to open up today. We'll do our best to keep you posted on site schedules. The May program page lists no programs at this point, but it does contain a full list of links to Trails of History Facebook pages so that you can continue to enjoy our online offerings and get the latest info on reopening plans.

Some Trails of History sites are participating in an event called "Giving Tuesday Now" on May 5, which is an adjunct to the annual Giving Tuesday event the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. If you're able, this might be a great time to help your favorite Trails of History site with a donation.


So you're telling me it's May already? Wild. March went on forever, but April whizzed past me. I hope everyone out there is doing okay. As we've been noting over the past weeks, sites and museums on the Trails of History have stepped up on social media to provide entertainment and behind-the-scenes experiences during this very difficult time. I've shared samples of some of those social media offerings (see last week's post, for example).

To help myself keep track and to help show how much is going on, I've created "Trailheads Rec Room," which lives on the sidebar to the right of your screen in the "About Us" section. In the Rec Room you'll find a link for "Coloring Pages and Games," one for "Crafts and Activities" (be sure to check out the Morse Code posts between Erie Maritime Museum, PA Military Museum, and Railroad Museum of PA), and a third for "Jigsaw Puzzles and BINGO." The BINGO page includes three Trails of History bingo cards that you might want to take a look at, in addition to Bushy Run Battlefield's Bingo card. In coming weeks, my plan is to add a page for "Videos and Virtual Tours."

In addition to all this, many sites have also shared posts that delved into relevant historical themes and connected to our current concerns and situations. Here are some of my favorites.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum provided a little something for those of us who miss baseball


Joseph Priestley House helped focus attention on scientists with a series of #SundayScientist posts


Graeme Park shared info about epidemics and quarantines in colonial Philadelphia


Pennsylvania Military Museum's blog has posted lots of military history topics, including an exploration of Metallica lyrics


Pennsbury Manor provided historical insights on Passover, Easter, and Ramadan traditions




And Drake Well Museum & Park started a conversation about oil prices

National Volunteer Week 2020, #MuseumSunshine, and Earth Day

PHMC's offices and Trails of History sites are currently closed to the public through May 8. Governor Wolf has announced a phased reopening plan; as we learn more about how the Trails of History sites fit that plan, we will keep you posted. The best way to stay up-to-date on site activities and plans is via social media. The April program page has a list of Facebook links for each site; you can find their other social media platforms that way. For up-to-date information on Pennsylvania's response to COVID-19, please visit the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health website.

It has been a busy week on social media for Pennsylvania Trails of History sites. I'm trying my best to keep up with all the activity, but it's impossible. I'm providing a few examples below, but to really get the full picture you'll be best served by following Pennsylvania Trails of History and/or your favorite sites on Facebook (try 'em all - their Facebook links are on the April program page).

National Volunteer Week 2020

Graphic shows shapes of human hands reaching upwards in shades of blue and tan
Part of the graphic design of PHMC's Volunteer of the Year awards ceremony booklet (design by Lauren Bennett)

In last week's post, we gave you info on this year's PHMC Outstanding Service Award recipients and the Volunteer of the Year honorees for the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania State Archives. We had planned to celebrate with our honorees in person, but well, you know. We still hope to reschedule that event. As is true for much of what we're doing on the Trails of History right now, we managed lots of online "thank you" posts. As National Volunteer Week draws to a close, here are a few examples (you can find many more on the Facebook pages of our Trails of History sites - links are on the April program page).



PHMC's executive director, Andrea Lowery, (above) provided a heartfelt #ThankYouFromHome to all of our honorees, which PHMC's digital director posted to the Pennsylvania Trails of History Facebook page. Video "thank yous" were also recorded by Brenda Reigle, director of the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums (her video); Beth Hager, director of The State Museum of Pennsylvania (her video); and David Carmicheal, director of the Pennsylvania State Archives (his video).

Other sites posting "thank you" videos included Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara (for Outstanding Service Award winners Jack (in memoriam) and Maxine Gold, and the museum's co-honorees for Volunteer of the Year), Drake Well Museum and Park, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

#MuseumSunshine

On Tuesday, April 21, museum social media accounts were bright and shiny, sharing artwork, objects, and images evoking sunlight. As you can see above, Bushy Run Battlefield took part with an array of images from the site. Daniel Boone Homestead posted a sunny shot of budding spring greenery, and Ephrata Cloister highlighted images of the sun in two fraktur letters in the Christian ABC book in their collection.

Earth Day


Wednesday, April 22, was the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. Although the need for distancing certainly torpedoed lots of plans for events to mark the day, social media proved to be up to the challenge of keeping it on people's minds. Pennsbury Manor (above) shared a beautiful photo of a blossoming apple tree in their garden (noting that their tree is a descendant of Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree - you think you know a site). The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum's Facebook cover photo proclaimed that "Every Day is Earth Day," and the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum posted photos and info noting that the museum was built as part of a mine reclamation project - the before and after photos are striking.

Volunteers of the Year for Service in 2019

PHMC's offices and Trails of History sites are currently closed to the public through April 30 May 8 (per Gov. Wolf on 4/20/20). The best way to stay up-to-date on site activities and plans is via social media. The April program page has a list of Facebook links for each site; you can find their other social media platforms that way. For up-to-date information on Pennsylvania's response to COVID-19, please visit the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health website.

Well, it's National Volunteer Month, but nothing about this is normal. We had planned to hold our annual Volunteer of the Year recognition event tomorrow, April 18. Instead we have postponed it and hope to reschedule some time this summer. We're doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19, which regular Trailheads readers know from following our posts in recent weeks. Nevertheless, I'm sad that we aren't able to gather in person, yet, to thank this year's honorees (keep your eye on PHMC's social media channels tomorrow, however). Our volunteers provide so much talent to support what we do on the Trails of History, we can never fully thank them. But we can try.

The 2019 honorees, including the recipients of the Outstanding Service Award, are pictured below, and there is a link for each so that you can read more about their volunteer activities (thank you to all the sites for providing this information). Please join me in congratulating them and thanking them for their support of PHMC's Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania State Archives.

Outstanding Service Award


Smiling older man with gray hair, wearing blue sweater and lanyard
Smiling older women with brown hair, wearing blue sweater and lanyard

Jack (in memoriam) and Maxine Gold, Erie Maritime Museum & U.S. Brig Niagara (citation)

Volunteers of the Year for Service in 2019


Man wearing collared shirt with stripes, seated at desk with hands folded

James Shemanski, Anthracite Heritage Museum & Scranton Iron Furnaces (citation)

Woman in tan coat stands to left behind a table, there is a red and white Rev War era flag hanging from the ceiling

Stephanie (Stevie) Demott, Brandywine Battlefield Park (citation)

Woman with brown hair wearing a red plaid shirt and solid red vest stands in front of a stone wall

Jean Saunders, Bushy Run Battlefield (citation)

Man wearing glasses and a plaid shirt stands in front of a light-colored wall

Garry Zerbe, Conrad Weiser Homestead (citation)

Man wearing glasses and sweater with blocks of gray, white and black stands in front of a stone wall

Bruce Chadbourne, Cornwall Iron Furnace (citation)

Man with beard wearing shorts, t-shirt, and green apron stands in front of a large barbecue smoker filled with racks of ribs

Bruce Peterson, Drake Well Museum & Park (citation)

Smiling blond woman wearing a black turtleneck and red sweater stands in front of a tan wall

Georgia Nause, Eckley Miners' Village (citation)

Man with a gray and white beard wearing a checked shirt and standing in front of a reddish wall

David Heffley, Ephrata Cloister (citation)

Two men stand in front of a replica of a ship's mast and rigging. Man on left wears a dark long-sleeved shirt and is holding a framed certificate. Man on right has a beard and wears a long-sleeved shirt and quilted vest. Both are wearing glasses.

Larry Kisielewski (left) and Brian Bailey, Erie Maritime Museum & U.S. Brig Niagara (citation)

Man with goatee wears a collared shirt and dark blazer. He is standing in front of a light-colored wall with a leaf and vine pattern.

Bob Bradley, Hope Lodge (citation)

Man with glasses wears a checked shirt, striped tie and gray blazer

George Godlewski, Joseph Priestley House (citation)

Two men stand on either side of a white picket fence. Man on left wears a long-sleeved white shirt, brown vest, and straw boater hat. Man on right wears a long-sleeved check shirt, blue vest, and a brown cap.

Sam Wise (left) and Connell O'Brien, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (citation)

Woman in white shirt and dark pants wears white gloves and is wrapped in bubble wrap. Another woman stands behind her.

Coralee Syrko (in front), Old Economy Village (citation)

Woman wearing 17th-century style skirt and short gown with white kerchief and white cap. She is seated at a spinning wheel in an outdoor setting.

Peggy Lehnen, Pennsbury Manor (citation)

Man in jeans and t-shirt wears safety helmet and eye and ear protection. He is operating a large sawmill used to cut lumber from logs.

Dan Davis, Pennsylvania Lumber Museum (citation)

Man with a mustache wearing blue shirt with the words "Pennsylvania Military Museum" and his name "Mike" embroidered on it

Michael Poorman, Pennsylvania Military Museum (citation)

Man wearing jeans and long-sleeved denim shirt with Railroad Museum logo. He is standing in front of a large model railroad layout.

George Swartz, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (citation)

Man wearing blue pants and a blue shirt with red and white stripes. He is standing in front of a museum exhibit that includes a large black and white photo of a house, a spinning wheel, and a larger wheel on a frame

Chris Zanoni, Somerset Historical Center (citation)

Woman with short hair wears a pale pink turtleneck and a lavender sweater. She is wearing a necklace made of gold or silver wire and freshwater pearls

Patricia Sabold, The State Museum of Pennsylvania (citation)

Woman wearing a short-sleeved white top standing in front of a large bush with dark green leaves and dark pink blossoms

Myretta Anderson, Pennsylvania State Archives (citation)