May Day, May Day

There are lots of programs coming up in May, so I’ll spare you my clever repartee. We should note that sites are generally open on Monday, May 31, for Memorial Day. But as we like to say here at Trailheads, always check ahead to make sure that (sing it with me, kids) the site you want to visit will be open when you plan to be there.

May 1: Anthracite Heritage Garden Program—learn about gardens around typical Anthracite region homes in the late 1800s through 1940s and help refurbish the garden on the museum terrace; program is free, but please call ahead to reserve your spot

Bushy Run Battlefield
May 1: Annual Spring Nature Walk—explore the battlefield and adjoining nature trails with local naturalist George Heasley

May 16: Colonial Craft and Demonstration Day—a variety of 18th-century craft demonstrations, plus historic tours and a nature walk

Cornwall Iron Furnace
May 11: The Gettysburg Campaign to the Susquehanna River—lecture by Stephen A. Runkle, discussing the Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania prior to the Battle of Gettysburg

PHMC/Daniel Boone Homestead

Daniel Boone Homestead
May 2: Children’s Day—learn about Daniel Boone’s early life, his daily chores, and the people who influenced him most
May 16: Nature Program—a staff member from Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center will provide tips and suggestions for bird watching and identification

May 1: Engine Start-Up—help kick off summer as the Museum’s oil field engines are started for the season

Eckley Miners’ Village
May 2: Anthracite Mining and Organized Labor: 1850-1900—lecture by local historian Bryan Dunnigan (also book signing by Richard Clark, author of “Strange Thunder in Jubilee: Disruption in the Coal Fields” and “Wreck of the Red Arrow”)
May 16: The Black Rock that Built America: A Tribute to the Anthracite Coal Miners—lecture by Gerald L. McKerns

May 21: Community Day—special hands-on educational programs designed for schools and homeschools; advance registration strongly encouraged

Graeme Park
May 9: Mother’s Day Breakfast—learn about the lives of wives and mothers during the colonial period; reservations required
May 23: Tea for Teddy and Me—kids can bring their favorite teddy bear or doll for tea, goodies, and a special tour of the Keith House; reservations required
May 30: Farm and Flea Market—weekly (except July 17 and Sept. 25) farm market (flea market, too once a month)

PHMC/Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum

May 7-8: Herb & Garden Faire—plants, garden tools and art, books, talks and demos, tours of the village and farm exhibits (check website for list of vendors)

May 1: Volunteer Training—registration is required
May 2: Sheepshearing and Historic Trades—watch sheep sheared the old-fashioned way then help wash, card, and spin the wool; joyner and blacksmith will demonstrate their skills with wood and iron
May 9: Living History Theater: To Inquire into her Clearness: Women’s Monthly Meeting—program explores role of women in 17th-century Quaker community
May 16: Open Hearth Cooking Demonstration: Dairying—cooks will be making cheese and using receipts [recipes] that use cheese and butter as their main ingredients
May 23: Garden Highlights—spend some time in the kitchen garden
May 30: Animals at Pennsbury—meet the horses, oxen, and sheep

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
May 6: Envirothon—Potter County contest is part of statewide and national program for high school students

PHMC/Pennsylvania Military Museum

Pennsylvania Military Museum
May 9: Bridge of Hope Mother’s Day Walk—takes place on the parade grounds of the Museum
May 16: A Celebration of Service: Honoring Pennsylvania Veterans—U.S. Army reunion and memorial service sponsored by the Pennsylvania National Guard
May 19: World War II Veterans Presentations and Book Signing—offered in conjunction with PCN (PA Cable Network) and Nittany Media; Hank Heim and Grant Lee will discuss their wartime experiences
May 29-30: World War II Revisited—WWII reenactors will bivouac on the grounds of the museum, which will play the part of the European Theater of Operations, 1944-45; the night of May 29 features the Service Canteen, where Dan and Galla entertain the troops with their USO-style show

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
May 21-23: Conrail Days—history and equipment of Conrail will be featured; program offered in conjunction with the Conrail Historical Society. On the night of May 21, a special night photo shoot will be available; you must pre-register by May 14

Somerset Historical Center
May 7: Homeschool Day—educational programs for multi-age school groups and families; pre-registration required

State Museum of Pennsylvania
May 5: Legends of the Night Sky: Orion—new planetarium show debuts (running through August 29)

One last note: May 18-20 in Harrisburg is the Statewide Conference on Heritage, combining Byways to the Past and Heritage Partnership Conference. PHMC is one of the co-sponsors.

Just when you got that song out of your head

If you read Trailheads weekly, you’ve seen previous posts on the Pennsylvania History Bill of Rights. The PHBR (as we lovingly, and bureaucratically, call it) is based on provisions of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and on the requirements of the History Code (which outlines the responsibilities of the PHMC). The six principles that make up the PHBR were formally adopted by the PHMC’s governing body on March 17, 2010. The History Bill of Rights is a (more or less) concise statement of what the people of Pennsylvania should be able to rely on, history-wise.

PHMC/Charter Day at State Museum & Archives

Since Charter Day, we’ve been asking Pennsylvanians to tell us which of the principles they think are most important. Our Trailheads poll drew 177 voters (or one of you voted 177 times). You could choose up to 3 of the provisions as most important, which resulted in a total of 486 votes (just shy of 3 votes per person). The poll results are to the right of your screen. Adequate public and private support for Pennsylvania’s historic properties and museums (not just PHMC’s) was the top vote getter with 79% of total votes. Can I get an amen?

PHMC/Drake Well Museum

The Pennsylvania History Bill of Rights has its own Facebook page, and over 100 people “like” it. You can too.

In a much-appreciated show of support for the PHBR, the board of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology adopted the provisions at its meeting on April 9. If you know of an organization that would like to do the same, a sample resolution is available, along with contact information for letting us know.

And finally, because we’ve gotten addicted to feedback, you can still weigh in on which principles of the PHBR are most important to you. An online survey lets you voice your opinion. Or write a comment on this post. We really do like hearing from you. Thanks to all of you who are finding ways to support the Pennsylvania Trails of History. Keep up the good work.

Shop 'til You Drop

Program alert: On Thursday, April 29, filmmaker Ric Burns will be at the Erie Maritime Museum to introduce a special screening of his new film, Into the Deep: America, Whaling, and the World, a co-production of Steeplechase Films and American Experience/WGBH Boston (broadcast premiere is May 10 on PBS). The Flagship Niagara appears in the documentary, playing the 19th-century whaler Essex, and the event and reception will benefit the Niagara's programs. The Ship's Log has all the details.

PHMC/Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara

Those of you who regularly (or irregularly) go to historic sites and museums know that no visit is complete without a trip to the museum store. Whether you’re cynical about this or not is a matter of personal taste. But the truth is that shopping can be a meaningful part of the museum experience—for visitors as well as for the museum itself. A well-run shop with unique items related to the history and mission of the site is a real asset. As a visitor, it extends your connection with the site and helps you take a piece of it home. And it provides crucial financial support for the museum’s programs and operations. Sorry that sounds so much like a Museum Studies 101 textbook, but there it is.

On the Trails of History, our sites strive to provide shoppers (who might be visitors or members of the local community) with a wide selection including souvenirs and regional foods, fine art and one-of-a-kind craft items. Each one is different, depending on the site’s historical focus, location, and visitation. All of them are managed in cooperation with a “friends of” group that supports the site and partners with PHMC in our effort to provide an enjoyable, educational, and well-rounded visit. It seems relevant to note here that members of these groups usually receive at least a 10% discount at their site’s museum store.

PHMC/Pennsylvania Military Museum

On the Military History Trail, museum stores feature a variety of items including books and reproduction maps, prints, and posters. Visit Erie Maritime Museum, Bushy Run Battlefield, Brandywine Battlefield, and Pennsylvania Military Museum (Fort Pitt Museum reopens to the public April 17, and Washington Crossing Historic Park is currently closed to the public—watch this space for updates).

PHMC/Anthracite Heritage Museum

Sites on the Industrial Heritage Trail offer samples, reproductions and hand-crafted items related to the industry they represent (such as iron goods at Cornwall Iron Furnace, bottles of oil at Drake Well Museum, or hand-crafted wooden items at Pennsylvania Lumber Museum) and to the people who worked in that industry (such as the many ethnic groups of Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region at Anthracite Heritage Museum or Eckley Miners’ Village or the multitude of workers who made the railroads run at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania).

The Historic Homes Trail includes museum stores featuring items related to the residents of the houses, their careers and interests, and their aesthetic tastes. Reproduction domestic items representative of the home’s time period(s) may also be found when you visit Graeme Park, Joseph Priestley House, or Pennsbury Manor (we’ll update you when public schedules at Conrad Weiser Homestead and Hope Lodge are announced).

PHMC/Ephrata Cloister

Sites on the Rural Farm and Village History Trail showcase an array of hand-crafted items such as textiles, pottery (redware and stoneware), food products, and pieces related to the architecture and historic structures of the site and its region. Check out Daniel Boone Homestead, Ephrata Cloister, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Old Economy Village, and Somerset Historical Center.

Spanning all of the trails is the State Museum of Pennsylvania, whose museum store is a cooperative program between the museum and the Contemporary Crafts Marketing program of Harrisburg Area Community College.

In addition to the in-person shopping experience offered at our sites, online shopping is increasingly available on the Trails of History (you’ll see this noted on the appropriate websites) or through

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with Us

There’s just one week left to vote on the Pennsylvania History Bill of Rights poll (to the right of your screen).

One of the first posts I wrote for Trailheads (way back in August) was about our volunteer-of-the-year honorees for 2009. I mentioned how much we rely on volunteers to carry out the work of our historic sites and museums. That is truer now than it was even then. So as we approach National Volunteer Week (April 18-24), I thought it made sense to do a little recruiting.

Is this a blatant cry for help? You bet it is. But as any of you who have volunteered your time for a worthy cause well know, the rewards are great. The sites on the Trails of History offer tremendous opportunities to support and preserve Pennsylvania’s rich heritage and to help make it accessible and exciting to the public.

PHMC/Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara

In western Pennsylvania, you can work with the Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara, Drake Well Museum in Titusville, Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Bushy Run Battlefield in Jeannette, or Somerset Historical Center.

Folks in the northern tier with a love of the outdoors may find the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum in Galeton to their liking.

PHMC/Pennsylvania Military Museum

Sites in the central part of the state include the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, Joseph Priestley House in Northumberland, Cornwall Iron Furnace, and the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg (the Pennsylvania State Archives welcomes volunteers as well).

Northeastern Pennsylvanians can volunteer at the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum or Scranton Iron Furnaces in Scranton or at Eckley Miners’ Village in Weatherly.

PHMC/Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Moving into southcentral Pennsylvania, we have opportunities at Conrad Weiser Homestead in Womelsdorf, Daniel Boone Homestead in Birdsboro, Ephrata Cloister, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum in Lancaster, and Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg.

PHMC/Graeme Park

And heading east into the Philadelphia area, we have Brandywine Battlefield in Chadds Ford, Hope Lodge in Fort Washington, Graeme Park in Horsham, Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, and Washington Crossing Historic Park.

That laundry list doesn’t do justice to the thrills, spills, and chills awaiting volunteers on the Trails of History. If anyone reading this is a volunteer at one of our sites, please feel free to add a comment--click on the number next to the word “Comment” in the heading to this post--and share your (far more interesting) insights. Just one more way you’ll be helping us out.

You Gotta Fight...for Your Hist'ry

My apologies to Beastie Boys. And to anyone who will now have their song stuck in your head all day. And to anyone who hates wordplay in titles. I couldn’t help myself, apparently. If it’s any consolation, I do have the song firmly wedged in my brain (even Toni Basil’s “Oh, Mickey” hasn’t been able to dislodge it).

Two weeks ago, Trailheads focused on the Pennsylvania History Bill of Rights and reported that people who visited sites on the Trails of History on Charter Day were asked to share their opinion on these rights by voting.

The results are in. Almost 1500 votes were cast on March 14. Each voter had up to 3 sticky notes with which to indicate their support, so that’s at least 500 people (I think).

Receiving 24% of votes cast: Current and future generations are assured that historical resources are preserved for their enjoyment and use.

22%: Museums, historical societies, and historic sites receive adequate public and private support to maintain high standards of stewardship and public access.

19%: Pennsylvania’s students understand history in the context of local, national, and world events.

17%: Communities retain their historic character that is essential to attracting and retaining residents, businesses, and visitors.

11%: Citizens have access to the permanent records of government and the permanently valuable documents which tell the history of the Commonwealth.

8%: The Commonwealth maintains a competitive position as a premier tourism destination for heritage travelers.

Karen Guenther, a professor at Mansfield University (and a former PHMC intern), asked the students in her Teaching Secondary Social Studies class to vote on the Bill of Rights. Not surprisingly, they gave the most votes to "Students understand history in context." The rest of the rights were ranked in the following order: "adequate public and private support"; "historical resources are preserved"; "access to...records"; "communities retain...historic character"; and "premier tourism destination." (Thank you to Karen and her students for sharing in this effort.)

Many of you have responded to the Trailheads poll (to the right of your screen near the top of the blog)—way more than any poll we have put up in the past. Because the response has been so good, the life of the poll has been extended 2 weeks to give more of you a chance to exercise your franchise. To see where the voting currently stands, click on “Show results” at the bottom of the poll.

For Trailheads who want another way to show support for the History Bill of Rights, you can now become a fan on Facebook (or if Facebook has already done away with that feature by the time you are reading this, then please "like" us). Tell your friends.

Thank you to those who have already voted and shared this information. We don’t take it for granted.