History Online

I realized as I was pulling this together that there’s a connecting thread to these items, besides the fact that they all involve Trails-of-History-related online resources. I don’t think it will be too difficult to spot, but the first commenter to point it out gets a free (value $0) subscription to Trailheads.

The Scranton Public Library has developed, with the help of several partners and funders, the Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives, in order to make the region’s history more accessible to the public. The project debuted recently with several online collections, including Out of the Wilderness: The Industrialization and Development of the Scranton Area 1850-1865, which contains “letters, books, paintings, photographs and other artifacts from the era when the Lackawanna Valley emerged from its agrarian beginnings to become an industrial center that powered the torn nation’s war effort.” The Anthracite Heritage Museum contributed (digitally, that is) a collection of letters written by Benton native Ebert Smith (Company B, 177th PA Drafted Militia) to his sister Hannah Thacher in 1862 and 1863 from Camp Seamons (Harrisburg, PA) and Camp Mansfield (Deep Creek, VA). The letters give a sense of the tedium and hardships of camp life but also of Smith’s desire to comment on family news even though he’s off to war. (Want to see Smith’s entry in the muster rolls in the State Archives? Go here. He's the third entry on the page.)

As the bicentennial of the War of 1812 approaches, Battle of Lake Erie: Building the Fleet in the Wilderness, a booklet by Rear Adm. Denys W. Knoll, USN (Ret.) of Erie, is now available online, courtesy of the Naval History & Heritage Command and the Naval Historical Foundation. The Battle of Lake Erie and the US Brig Niagara’s pivotal role in it are key elements in any understanding of the War, and Knoll’s booklet provides a solid history. Having it available online will broaden its reach and help Erie Maritime Museum commemorate this important anniversary.

PHMC/Ephrata Cloister

Ephrata Cloister is featured in the "Properties and Preservation" section of the current issue of New England Antiques Journal. The illustrated article, by Barbara and Ken Beem, provides readers with a brief history of Conrad Beissel’s early life in Germany and migration to Pennsylvania, his attempt to settle himself away from civilization (one might even say “in the wilderness”), and the folks who followed him to what became Ephrata. Lovely publicity, just in time for Ephrata’s Lantern Tours at the end of the month.


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