September is here

September is (almost) here. Depending on where you are in life, that could mean back to school, back to work, or maybe just another month come and gone. I don’t know about you, but my summer went by really fast. I remember going on a short vacation at the beginning of May, then I blinked, and now I’m staring at the tail end of August. What gives? Anyway, there’s plenty to do on the Trails of History as autumn begins to make its presence felt. Most sites will be open on September 6 for Labor Day, but please check ahead to be sure.

Conrad Weiser Homestead
Sept. 12: Weiser Interpretive Sunday—living history program in a beautiful and historic park setting
Sept. 18: 30th Annual Conrad Weiser Disc Golf Tournament (check website for contact info)

Cornwall Iron Furnace
Sept. 14: Civil War Nostalgia—speaker is Tom Lehman; contact site for details

Daniel Boone Homestead
Sept. 12: First Pennsylvania Regiment Flintlock Shoot
Sept. 19: Nature Program

PHMC/Drake Well Museum

Drake Well Museum
Sept. 18: Fall Gas Up Engine Show—displays of antique engines on the museum grounds (see how the new building looks in progress while you’re there)

Eckley Miners’ Village
Sept. 19 and 26: Fall Lecture Series—contact site for details

Ephrata Cloister
Sept. 18: Founders’ Day—learn about the origins of the local community and the achievements of the first residents (for only $1.00 admission); for an additional fee, you can tour the usually unavailable second floor of the Sisters’ House

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
Sept. 9-12: Tall Ships Erie—features 8 tall ships (including Niagara), a parade of sail, ship tours, day sails, concerts, and a maritime film festival

Graeme Park
Sept. 4, 11, 18: Farm and Flea Market (flea market one Saturday a month, check with site for schedule)
Sept. 11: Concert on the Lawn with the West Chester Swing Kings—enjoy classic big band music (such as Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington) and more modern fare (think Big Bad Voodoo Daddy)
Sept. 25: Graeme Park Dog Fair—honor Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson’s beloved Fidele and bring your human and canine friends (dogs are welcome, but not required for admission)

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Sept. 5, 12, 19, 26: Celebrate September Sundays—ice cream sundaes!! (and music on the green, wagon rides, and craft demonstrations); The Weathervane will be having porch sales every Sunday
Sept. 23: Hands-on History Day (also Oct. 14 & 28, Nov. 12)—fall activities for children of all ages

Old Economy Village
Sept. 25: Erntefest Harmonist Harvest Festival—learn how the Harmonists made the fall harvest last through the winter, listen to Harmonist music, take a carriage ride, sample German foods, and much more

Pennsbury Manor
Sept. 5: Historic Trades—see the blacksmith and joyner demonstrate their skills
Sept. 12: Living History Theater: Pennsbury’s Runaway Servant—hear John Smith, a blacksmith who ran away, Pennsbury’s steward, and William Penn’s neighbors tell their pieces of the story
Sept. 19: Open Hearth Cooking Demonstration: The Bake Oven—Pennsbury’s cooks will recreate a baking day, producing all manner of 17th-century-style goodies
Sept. 26: Garden Highlights—the gardeners will be on hand to talk about preparations for fall

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Sept. 7: Central Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable—picnic and lecture on Civil War and contemporary military medical practices
Sept. 11-12: Then & NOW—a living history timeline of military uniforms and accouterments from the colonial period through the present; also includes an encampment/bivouac and historic weapons demonstrations

PHMC/Scranton Iron Furnaces

Scranton Iron Furnaces
Sept. 12: Family Day—in celebration of the 170th anniversary of the Furnaces, a day of book signings, films, and juggling has been planned with something for adults and children; if you’re on Facebook, go here for details

Somerset Historical Center
Sept. 10-12: Mountain Craft Days—41st annual festival featuring over 125 artisans, musicians, and entertainers, plus food vendors, children’s activities, and hay rides

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Sept. 4: Stars and Passport to the Universe—new planetarium shows open (through Dec. 12)
Sept. 12: Art of the State exhibit closes—last chance until next year to see some of the best contemporary art in Pennsylvania, all in one place

Wednesday Tidbits--August 25, 2010

Several quick items to break up your week (mine too):

Congratulations to the staff and volunteers of The State Museum of Pennsylvania, which has been awarded subsequent accreditation by the American Association of Museums following a thorough self-study and peer review. Once a museum becomes accredited by AAM, it must repeat the review process periodically to make sure that it continues to meet the high (and constantly evolving) standards of the profession. For more info, go here.

PHMC/Drake Well Museum

As construction continues on the expanded and revitalized main building at Drake Well Museum, the staff have posted some photos on Facebook. I’ve chosen before (above) and in-progress (below) views of the building—a new entrance and lobby are just part of the changes to come. Stay tuned.

PHMC/Drake Well Museum

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania was featured last week on the blog, Mama Cheaps. Mama, along with husband Biker Bob and daughter Lily Bean, visited a number of locations in Lancaster County; their trip to the Railroad Museum was a hit.

Digital Day at the Anthracite Heritage Museum

My apologies for the pretty poor quality of the photos below. Surely you can do better. And then you can enter the 2010 PHMC Photo contest to win fabulous prizes.

I had the chance last week to attend a workshop for teachers at the Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton. The workshop, Digital Day, was put together by staff from the Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit (NEIU19) and was attended by about a dozen teachers. NEIU has offered Digital Day workshops in the past, designed to introduce teachers to new technologies and help them learn how to use them with their students. This year, they decided to hold the workshop at the Anthracite Museum to provide teachers with interesting content to focus on while they explored software that makes digital presentations really easy to produce.

Teachers spent time in the Museum galleries and underground at the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour (sorry, no pictures, I bailed on that part), armed with digital cameras (both still and video). Museum guides (a wonderful group of volunteers) spoke with the teachers about the larger themes of the exhibits—such as coal geology, immigration, child labor, deindustrialization, home life, and religion. They pointed out objects and images that illustrate those themes and help teachers make them real to their students. I hadn’t been to the Museum for a couple of years, and I was reminded of the number of connections you could draw to issues that today’s students are familiar with. Students and teachers (and families and community members) might have some lively conversations, informed by history but very much relevant to their daily lives.

After the teachers toured the galleries and had a tasty lunch (the folks at the Anthracite Museum always achieve a high level of hospitality), the tech integrators from NEIU worked with them to upload their photos and videos into Photo Story and FlipShare, respectively. Both seemed very user-friendly and adaptable to use in museums as well as schools. Great ways to employ the vast amount of visual material museums and historic sites have at their disposal.

While at the museum, I made sure to catch the newest exhibit, “Just Married: 70 Years of Weddings in Coal Country, 1880-1950.” Museum staff and volunteers put out a call for wedding photos, which resulted in a lovely array representing members of the local community.

Because it's a changing exhibit (and it includes so many textiles), “Just Married” won’t be on view for long, but you have until December to enjoy it. (Just a note: although lit appropriately for a textile exhibit, it's not as dark as my photos make it seem.) If you’re on Facebook, you can also see pix of the exhibit in-progress. Well worth your time (to actually go there if possible, not just look at photos). My thanks to the NEIU and to the Anthracite Museum staff and volunteers for a wonderful day.

Learning on the Job, Part II-B

Trailheads Part II-B is a continuation of this week's post about interns on the Trails of History (which is a continuation of last week's post about interns on the Trails of History--are you starting to feel that you're in an Escher drawing?). My thanks to Cindy Kirby-Reedy, who was essentially a guest blogger for this part.

Jessica Wieser is a graduate of Lancaster Catholic High School and attends SUNY Purchase, where she is majoring in Creative Writing. This summer, she is interning at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum’s Weathervane Museum Store. According to Mary Parelli, the store manager, Jessica has been a tremendous help with assisting customers, taking inventory and helping with merchandising.

PHMC/Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum

A sophomore at Cedarville University, Anna Fitzpatrick is pursuing a major in history and a minor in music. At Landis Valley, she is enjoying the experience of interpreting the Landis Brothers’ House and hopes to work at a living history museum after graduation. Anna's hobbies include knitting, basket making, reading, journaling, acting, hiking, and playing the piano and harp.

PHMC/Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum

Lifelong Lancaster County resident Aryel Rigano’s first exposure to the museum was in 7th grade, when she participated in the year-long Landis Valley Project. She is currently a sophomore at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and is pursuing a major in anthropology and a minor in museum studies, with the intent of becoming a forensic anthropologist. As an intern at Landis Valley, Aryel interprets textile practices in the Crafts Barn and catalogues artifacts for the curatorial department.

PHMC/Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum

Intern Kristie Eshelman is assisting the collections staff and performing weekend guide duties. A resident of Middletown, New Jersey, and a sophomore history major at Grove City College (near Pittsburgh), she has Lancaster County ancestors. Kristie’s career interests at present are in library science and archival management. So far, she has organized museum co-founder Henry Landis’s issues of Engineering News, re-housed publication material for a catalog on a former fraktur exhibit, re-housed some of the museum’s older construction blueprints, helped to organize the Landis Brothers’ New York City auction catalogs, and worked on data entry and a finding aid for the 50 boxes of post cards that collections volunteer Russell Eaton has organized.

PHMC/Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum

Originally from Dover, New Jersey, Shayla Carey is a graduate of Conestoga Valley High School. She attends Kutztown University and is majoring in Professional Writing, with a minor in Pennsylvania German Studies. Shayla’s husband, Jack, volunteers at the museum, and they have two young sons, John and Matthew. Shayla splits her time at Landis Valley between interpreting the Brick Farmhouse, giving wagon rides, and weeding gardens.

Whew, that’s lot of help and good work taking place this summer. If I’ve missed anyone, please raise your hand (via the comment feature at the top of this post) and let me know.

Learning on the Job, Part II-A

Last week, we introduced you to some of the summer interns who are sharing their skills and talents with sites on the Trails of History. This week, there are even more interns to tell you about, and Blogger didn't seem to like the number of photos, so I've divided this week's post into two pieces. Part II-A includes interns working at Daniel Boone Homestead and Erie Maritime Museum. Part II-B features interns working at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum.

Many thanks to Alex Gnafakis, Linda Bolla, Carol Rosenthal, Jenna Wheaton, Jeremy Stolz, and Doug Buettner for their contributions to this post.

Alexandra Gnafakis is a grad student in Museum Communication at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her thesis research on the challenges of marketing historic houses and sites associated with the heroes of American myth led her to propose an internship at Daniel Boone Homestead. Alex has worked with staff and volunteers at Boone and has visited other Boone-related historic sites in Kentucky and Missouri. She is developing a marketing plan for PHMC and the Friends of Daniel Boone Homestead, who are now tasked with promoting the long-term stability of the site. You can read Alex’s brief description of her work here.

Carol Rosenthal was a Public Relations Intern with the Flagship Niagara League and is now employed by Tall Ships Erie. She earned her M.S. in Public Relations from Syracuse University this August. Describing her experience as an intern, Carol wrote: “Being involved with all things Tall Ships Erie 2010 from planning, to ticket sales, to public relations has taught me many career skills that I know I will need in the near future. TSE is going to be a huge, fun and exciting event that will bring tens of thousands of people to Erie…. Always a history-lover, my time spent at the EMM gave me a broader scope on my hometown's significant history and a greater love for Erie than before.”

PHMC/Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara

Jenna Wheaton, a Senior at Mercyhurst College, used her internship to gain hands-on experience seeing an exhibit through from start to finish. She also studied visitor dynamics, and learned to handle artifacts. She had the opportunity to attend the PA Archives workshop “Archives Without Tears” as part of her training. Looking back on her summer, Jenna said: “A project I found particularly rewarding was helping work on a new exhibit at the museum, consisting of photographs depicting the daily activities of the crew sailing aboard the Niagara.... I had only a small idea about all of the things that are a part of making an exhibit….Things such as color, placement, wording, and size all are major factors that, once combined, are supposed to flow and look effortless, when in fact a large deal of thought and reflection goes into each.”

PHMC/Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara

A graduate assistant at Edinboro University, Jeremy Stolz (wearing a red bandanna in the photo above) was placed at the Erie Maritime Museum for the Spring Semester. His primary task was to conduct research on such topics as the Battle of Lake Erie, commercial shipping and the history of Erie as a port, which will be used in the Museum’s new interactive kiosk. Reflecting on his experience, Jeremy noted: “I was particularly fond of working in the Maritime Museum because it gave me an opportunity to help out on the Niagara before spending three weeks sailing onboard the ship this summer during the Tall Ships Consortium Program. The time I spent at the Maritime Museum also provided valuable experience working in a museum environment and researching topics in local history.”

PHMC/Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara

Doug Buettner, a Senior in Public History at Mercyhurst College, also attended “Archives Without Tears” as part of his training, but his focus was on Museum Administration. He worked with the Flagship Niagara League in fundraising and with the Museum learning the less-than-exciting, but ever-necessary, paperwork involved with artifact loans and accessioning. Doug summed up his internship for us: “Being able to work with both the museum and with the Brig Niagara League has been a great privilege and has helped to solidify my appreciation of Erie’s history. I feel a strong sense of fulfillment in organizing fundraising functions and always got a sense of having helped in something meaningful to the community. The event I found particularly rewarding to assist in was the Erie premiere of Into the Deep [in which Niagara plays a whaling ship] by Ric Burns.”

Blog continues with Part II-B, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum.

Wednesday Tidbits, Aug. 11

The Erie Maritime Museum will host a reception Thursday, August 12 (that’s tomorrow if you’re reading this while it’s fresh) to launch a new photography exhibit, "Life onboard Niagara," on the museum’s first floor. Niagara trainees Dennis O’Leary and John Baker took advantage of their time onboard to document not only the work of sailing but some of the more personal and quiet moments (and even some of the non-sailing periods of the ship’s annual schedule). Here are a couple of examples—

If you were intrigued last week by the video of a reenacted patrol in the rain at the Pennsylvania Military Museum’s VIETNAM Revisited program, they’ve also posted a link to one that took place with the sun shining. For links to either or both, go here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Learning on the Job, Part I

Many thanks to contributors Susan Beates, Sheri Hamilton, Marlie Manning, Sarah Buffington, Katie Ursitti, Jennifer Martin, and Diana Le. Tune in next week for more interns.

WANTED: bright, energetic students willing to start with the basics but take on professional responsibilities. Must be able to adapt quickly to an established work culture, become part of “the team,” and show initiative without stepping on anyone’s toes. It is not likely that you will be paid for your efforts (although it’s been known to happen). Benefits may include academic credit, resume-building work experience, professional connections, and new friendships. (Not to mention the instant celebrity guaranteed by an appearance on Trailheads.)

PHMC/Drake Well Museum

Drake Well Museum intern Marlie J. Manning (a history major at Mansfield University) tells us that she “wanted to do an internship for the experience that it will give me for the career that I have chosen. I wanted to know for sure if this career is what I actually wanted to do for the rest of my life, and after five weeks of being here I have found that it is something I can see myself doing. So far my internship here has been informative and enjoyable.” Marlie has worked with curator/historian Susan Beates on collections care, research, interpretation, and (a necessary evil, I guess) administration. She’s also learned a few handy metal-working skills in Drake Well’s blacksmith shop (see photo above).

PHMC/Drake Well Museum

Titusville’s own Evan Ditty, shown on the right, above, with volunteer blacksmith Leon Briggs, is a history major at Thiel College in Greenville. Evan was planning to pursue a career teaching history at the college level, but his experience at Drake Well has made him aware of other history-related careers as well. Having previously volunteered with the NITRO show, this summer Evan also worked with museum collections, research, school tours, craft demonstrations and the well replica. A full summer.

PHMC/Old Economy Village

Old Economy Village intern Katie Ursitti (above), a history major at California University of Pennsylvania with plans to pursue a doctorate, described her summer for Trailheads. Of the many lessons she’s gained, she learned how to catalogue historical artifacts and the proper way to care for them (such as how to transport them safely from one point to another). She also experienced how to keep track of the climate in the historical buildings and what is considered good and bad conditions for the historic buildings and the artifacts. While giving tours to children from the ages of 3 to 14 years old, Katie was able to experience the joys of retelling the lessons she learned to those who are younger and eager to learn. One special moment, while giving a school tour, was when a young girl cried out “Don’t leave!” and gave her a big hug. Old Economy Village feels the same way about Katie.

PHMC/Pennsbury Manor

Jennifer Martin, a public history major at Shippensburg University, and Rebecca Remmey, majoring in history (minoring in Spanish) at Penn State, have spent the summer learning and teaching at Pennsbury Manor. They were instrumental in the site’s summer history camp (in the camp photo above, Jennifer is second from the left on the back row and Becca is on the right of the back row), and worked with staff on volunteer recruitment, curatorial training, and school tours. Describing her experience, Jennifer wrote:

“Out of this whole experience the one thing I can say I really enjoyed the most was the people. Whether volunteers, staff, campers or visitors my stay at Pennsbury introduced me to so many amazing and interesting people that helped me feel like I was at home everyday I came to work. I can honestly say that growing up with a love for history and visiting many sites as a child, my dream was to end up working in a museum. To have a chance this early on in my career I feel truly blessed.”

PHMC/Pennsylvania Military Museum

The Pennsylvania Military Museum benefited from work-study volunteer Diana Le’s writing skills this summer, as she worked on various projects including new exhibit labels for the museum’s “Tactical Exhibit Kiosk” (the kiosk allows staff to provide visitors with changing exhibits related to larger themes). Diana has helped with several museum events this summer, including documenting a patrol reenactment during the VIETNAM Revisited program. A Marine Corps officer candidate at Quantico MCB (Virginia), Diana shared her thoughts with us:

“I’ve picked up many interesting and useful tidbits about military history and traditions since I started working here and love seeing all the artifacts we have in the museum’s collection. However, my favorite parts are helping a museum that not only educates the public, but honors a special kind of people, and also meeting those people myself. Whether they are active, a veteran or even a recruit, there’s an instant and personal connection bound by history, tradition, values, language and camaraderie. I don’t think you can find the same connection among visitors and staff at any other museum. Besides, listening to war stories and watching helicopters are cool.”

Wednesday Tidbits

Some interesting stuff has come through my inbox that I thought I’d pass along now rather than waiting for the Friday post.

PHMC/Eckley Miners' Village (photo: Bob Quarteroni)

From Eckley Miners’ Village:
In the photo above, a group of teachers from Ireland listen to Eckley tour guide Jolene Busher at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, constructed in 1861. The Irish Teachers Program, based at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, has brought visitors to Northeastern Pennsylvania since 1974. This year’s group lifted the total number of participants past 1,000. The elementary and secondary school teachers also toured the Lackawanna Coal Mine and Harveys Lake and took a walking tour of Wilkes-Barre before heading to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Lancaster, Gettysburg and New York City.

PHMC/Pennsylvania Military Museum (photo: William Cawthern)

From the Pennsylvania Military Museum:
The annual VIETNAM Revisited program (held July 24-25) featured realistically hot, humid, rainy weather. In the photo above, Reuters News Service photographer Aaron Heiner learns about the M38A1 Jeep from volunteer John Wagner, Jr. To find out more about the program and see additional photos of the event (including Mr. Heiner’s), click here. There’s also a riveting (for me, at any rate) video of a reenacted patrol on YouTube.

Finally, the latest issue of Access Archives is available from the Pennsylvania State Archives—click here.