May Flowers

PA Lumber Museum in the snow earlier this week (photo by Brenda Reigle)

I sometimes like to start the weekend with a little cognitive dissonance, and the photo above should do the trick. Anyway, looking ahead to May, there are lots of programs and events going on as the spring/summer season gets underway on the Trails of History. Many sites will be open on Memorial Day (May 28), but not all of them, so if you want to plan ahead, it’s best to check with your favorite site beforehand. We’ll post a list of open sites in the May 25 Trailheads for those of you who prefer to be more spontaneous. So, without further ado:

Brandywine Battlefield
May 19: Craft Day—demonstrations of colonial-era crafts plus the opportunity to try some yourself are the order of the day.

Bushy Run Battlefield
May 5: Spring Nature Walk—this annual event takes participants on an exploration of the woods and fields around the site; free for members of Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society, $5 fee for non-members.
May 19: Afternoon Tea—enjoy afternoon tea in the Stone Room of the visitor center. Reservations are required (deadline is May 13) and may be made by calling 724/527-5584; this event is geared for guests age 6 and older.

Conrad Weiser Homestead
May 6: 18th-Century Interpretive Sunday—the public is invited to visit the homestead and park from noon to 4 p.m. to learn about life in Berks County during the 18th century (guided tours will be offered hourly from noon to 3 p.m.) . There is no admission fee for the program.

Cornwall Iron Furnace
May 8: “Let’s Talk about Lime Kilns”—Kenneth Miller will share his research on the lime “burning” process, with emphasis on Lancaster County. Since retiring from Millersville Univ. as a professor of biology, Miller has pursued his interests in ecology and natural history. His talk is part of the Friends of Cornwall Furnace lecture series, which is held in Freeman Auditorium at Cornwall Manor, across the road from the furnace site.

Daniel Boone Homestead
May 6: Children’s Day and Sheep & Wool Program—children and their families are invited to spend the afternoon learning about the young Daniel Boone and his family during the time they lived in the Oley Valley. Hands-on activities, crafts demonstrations, and colonial-era dancing lessons are just some of the activities planned. A local sheep shearer will be on hand to get the Homestead’s flock of four sheep ready for summer, and volunteers will show how the wool is processed once it’s removed from the sheep. Admission is $4 for children 4-15, $6 for people 16 and older; light refreshments will be available.

Drake Well Museum
May 1: Engine Start-Up Day—be on hand when the historic oil field equipment on the museum grounds comes back to life for the spring and summer season.
May 15-17, 22-24: Living the Lease Life School Tours—school students spend a full day learning about life in the oil fields; reservations required, call 814/827-2797.
May 26: Blacksmithing Demos—monthly blacksmithing demonstrations the last Saturday of the month, through October.

Eckley Miners’ Village
May 20: Victorian Fashion Show—the program, held at the Sharpe House in the village, will feature a variety of Victorian-era clothing styles for men, women, and children of different economic levels; after the show, mingle with the models and enjoy light refreshments and tea. Donation of $5.

Ephrata Cloister
May 12: Mothers, Daughters, Sisters—discover the daily challenges facing women in colonial Ephrata—married women and celibate Sisters—with special exhibits, demonstrations, and activities for the entire family. Admission for the day is $10 for adults, $7 for youth age 3-15, and includes the Ephrata Cloister Chorus’s Spring Concert, held in the historic Saal. Discounts apply for members of the Ephrata Cloister Associates and Pennsylvania Heritage Society.
May 18: Community Days—students learn about life in 18th-century Ephrata through 12-15 minute presentations at a range of educational stations around the site (and move at their own pace from station to station). Reservations are strongly encouraged (call 717/733-6600); admission is $6 for students, with one adult admitted free with every 10 students (additional adults with a group pay $8).
May 20: Ephrata Cloister Chorus Concert—at Bangor Episcopal Church, 2099 Main St. (Route 23), in Narvon; the program includes 18th-century music from Ephrata Cloister and other early communities. Suggested donation of $10-15 per person.

Fort Pitt Museum
May 12: Summer Saturdays Living History Program—in honor of Mother’s Day, this first program of the season focuses on the role of women during the 18th century, with cooking and laundry demonstrations, a fashion show, and a lecture.

Graeme Park
May 5-6: World War II Encampment—reenactors portraying American and German troops, along with military equipment displays, period uniforms, and live music (you can also tour the 18th-century Keith House).

Hope Lodge
May 5: Spring Clean-up Day—if you’d like to help with this annual event, visit the Hope Lodge Facebook page for details.

Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
May 11-12: 25th Annual Herb & Garden Faire—everything you could ever need or want for your garden all in one place, plus all sorts of herbal products and foodstuffs. For a list of vendors, go here.

Old Economy Village
May 19: Garden Mart—held in the historic gardens at Old Economy, this event features plants, gardening tools, and food from or for the garden for sale by local garden clubs and vendors as well as OEV’s greenhouse and gardens. There will be games and activities for children, too. If you’re interested in being a vendor, call Mary at 724/266-4500 x114 or email c-mdemars[at]pa[dot]gov.

Pennsbury Manor
May 6: Historic Trades and Sheep Shearing—the blacksmith and joyner will be on hand to demonstrate their skills, plus you can watch as the sheep are sheared by hand to get them ready for summer (and help wash, card, and spin the wool if you’re so inclined).
May 13: Living History Theater, “Orphans’ Court”—William Penn presides at the first Orphans’ Court, established in 1683 “to inspect and take an account of the improvements and usages of the Estates of Orphans.”
May 20: Open Hearth Cooking, Swedish Foodways—the cooks will compare food traditions of the English and the Swedes (who were some of the earliest European settlers in Pennsylvania).
May 27: Garden Highlights—the gardeners will be at work and able to help you enjoy the beauties of the summer garden.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
May 1: “First Stride of the Giant – First Days of the Peninsula Campaign”—speaker is John Quarstein, historian, preservationist, author, and director of the Virginia War Museum for thirty years. His topic is the Virginia Peninsula Campaign of 1862. Presented by the Central PA Civil War Roundtable.
May 2: “NATO’s Afghanistan Training Mission”—speaker is Keith A. Detwiler, COL, US Army, from the US Army War College Speakers Bureau. Part of the Friends of PMM speaker series.
May 20: A Celebration of Service: Honoring Pennsylvania Veterans—annual US Army reunion and memorial service sponsored by the Pennsylvania National Guard; this event is held rain or shine.
May 26-27: World War II Revisited—American and German WWII reenactors will be bivouacked on the museum grounds portraying field life in the European Theater of Operations, 1944-45. On May 26, the “Andrews Sister Tribute Show” from First in Flight Entertainment will entertain the troops and homefront crowd in the Service Canteen at 3 p.m.
May 28: Allegheny Mountain Region A.A.C.A. Car Show—Antique Automobile Club of America regional chapter’s summer season kickoff features pre-war to modern classics displayed throughout the grounds; there is a parking fee.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
May 11-13: Conrail Days—three days focusing on the equipment, history, and spirit of the Consolidated Rail Corporation, presented in partnership with the Conrail Historical Society. Visit the museum website for program details.

Somerset Historical Center
May 12 & 19: Textiles: From Fiber to Fabric—a two-part class on the basics of turning animal and plant fibers into thread and cloth. Registration and fee required; deadline is May 4. Call 814/445-6077 for details.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
May 13-20: Harrisburg Jewish Film Festival--most of the films will be screened in the State Museum's auditorium. On May 18, as part of 3rd in the Burg, the film will be Intimate Grammar, adapted from a best-selling book; admission is $8 at the door. (For more info about the festival, including a complete list of films and screening times, go here.)
May 20: “Art Heals”—lecture by Syngred Briddell of the Magnificent Minds Project, presented by the Susquehanna Art Museum in conjunction with the exhibit "Art is an Entree, Not a Dessert" (on view through July 15).

Washington Crossing Historic Site
May 12: 2nd Annual Washington Crossing Brewfest—this event takes place in the upper park on the banks of the Delaware River, behind the Thompson-Neely House. For information on tickets, go here.
May 18-20: Rebels and Redcoats on the Delaware—reenactors portraying American and British forces will present aspects of life on the front lines; sutlers and crafters will also be on hand.

Honoring Volunteers and More

Honorees, site administrators, and executive staff at 2011 Volunteer of the Year awards/photo by Don Giles
 As Volunteer Week in Pennsylvania (and the rest of the country) draws to a close, sites on the Trails of History will gather tomorrow to honor Volunteers of the Year for 2011. It’s always a pleasure to meet the honorees and join my colleagues in saying thank you for the tremendous volunteer support our sites receive. It’s also a chance to celebrate the dedication and persistence of all staff, paid and unpaid, who work so hard to preserve our buildings, collections, and landscapes and keep them open to the public. Anyone who’s followed news of the PHMC these past few years knows that these have been trying times, with painful reductions in state funding and workforce (a recent article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review covered it). On occasions such as the Volunteer of the Year awards, we can focus on the good work behind the scenes and with the visiting public that results from our collective efforts. That’s what I think, anyway. (Look for Trailheads posts over the next month or so highlighting this year’s honorees.)

Cornwall Furnace by Nick Ruggieri
photo by Sean Simmers, The Patriot-News, 2011
Paintings inspired by several sites on the Trails of History are currently on display at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg. The exhibit, “Pennsylvania: A Commemorative Portrait,” features 16 scenes from across the state by the late Nick Ruggieri, who painted them as part of a U.S. Bicentennial series representing each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. This collection is on loan from the State Museum of Pennsylvania, which received it as a donation from the Harrisburg Patriot-News (see P-N article here about the artist and the exhibit). Among the works on exhibit are images of Ephrata Cloister, Eckley Miners’ Village, Drake Well, Cornwall Furnace, and Daniel Boone Homestead (as well as other iconic Pennsylvania scenes). The exhibit will remain in place through September. The current public tour schedule at the Governor’s Residence (through June 30) is Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 am to 2 pm; reservations are required and can be made by calling 717/772-9130.

PHMC/PA Lumber Museum
A mini-grant to the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum Associates from the Lumber Heritage Region and the Pennsylvania Wilds Planning Team will support the conservation of artifacts that will become part of a new long-term exhibit at the museum, following a planned building expansion. The mini-grants are funded in part by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program (C2P2) of the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources and support projects that promote heritage and nature-based tourism. We expect that the expanded visitor center and the new exhibit will strengthen the PA Lumber Museum’s already significant role as a heritage destination, so this grant will help move things forward. Thanks, LHR and PA Wilds and C2P2!

Do You Feel (Un)lucky? Well, Do You?

I’m not usually too superstitious about Friday, the 13th (the day, not the movies, none of which I’ve ever seen, so I guess I’m not too concerned about them either...but I digress). We had one in January and we’ll have another in July, so this is not the year to start worrying about it. But, it did make me think for a moment about luck and feeling lucky or unlucky. I am lucky to write weekly posts for this blog (with an occasional break when a guest blogger sits in), which means I have a great excuse highly professional reason to keep up with activities on the Trails of History. I am unlucky, in that I don’t actually get out to experience as many of these activities as I’d like. So, I’m going to work on that. In the meantime, here are some odds and ends (in no particular order) that I picked up in the past week or two.

Daniel Boone Homestead’s Facebook page has photos of their recent Pennsylvania German Easter and Spring Nature Program. Plastic Easter eggs were “hidden” around the site, which encouraged kids and their families to explore the historic buildings and learn about crafts and trades of earlier times. (There are also some really cute photos of baby bunnies living on the site.)

Staying in the Facebook arena, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum just posted photos from the opening of their new Lancaster Long Rifle exhibit. You can read more about the exhibit here.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has scheduled training sessions for museum volunteers on April 26 and April 28. Volunteers will learn about the museum’s long-range plans, practice fielding commonly asked visitor questions, and work on how to explain the exhibits and rolling stock to visitors. You must be a current volunteer of the museum to take part in the training, but it’s not too late to join the team. Go to the website here for more information.

Pennsbury Manor and Ephrata Cloister have recently upgraded or started museum blogs to share more information with visitors and potential visitors. You can find program information and behind-the-scenes details and provide feedback to site staff.

And finally, because I can't resist a good stop-action, time-lapse video:

Focus on Collections: Martyrs' Mirror at Ephrata Cloister

Back in February, I wrote about attending a session of the annual Winter History Class at Ephrata Cloister. This week, curator Kerry Mohn guest blogs about the final session of this year’s class, when participants had the rare opportunity to view 11 complete copies (plus one fragment) of the Martyrs’ Mirror that were printed at Ephrata in the 18th century.

Curator Kerry Mohn (right) with Winter History Class participants

In the early 1740s, Mennonites in Pennsylvania wanted additional copies of the Martyrs’ Mirror, which chronicles the sufferings of the early Anabaptists. It was their hope to use the book as a source of instruction about the ideas of nonresistance. The problem in obtaining more copies of the massive volume, originally printed in Dordrecht in 1660, was that no help was forthcoming from friends in Holland. Taking matters into their own hands, representatives of the Franconia Mennonite Conference in eastern Pennsylvania approached the Ephrata Brotherhood to undertake the work.

Winter History Class participants examine copies of the Martyrs' Mirror

Peter Miller, working from an illustrated copy printed in Amsterdam in 1685, translated the more-than-one-thousand-page book from Dutch to German. Over the course of three years, fifteen Brothers worked setting type and printing this book on paper made in the Community’s paper mill. The completed book was the largest book printed in the English colonies before the Revolution! Along the way, they made a few mistakes. Pages were mis-numbered, different decorations were used, and in some cases, a pictured frontispiece was included in the binding. These variations were the focus of the Winter History Class participants.

Title page from one of the Muddy Creek Farm Library editions
Note the identification of Ephrata as the place it was printed

Unfortunately, the participants did not discover any previously unknown or rare varieties in the Martyrs’ Mirrors in the Cloister’s collection. The class members were able to see some of the more common varieties contained within the books in the collection. Five copies that were on exhibit for the class courtesy of Amos Hoover and The Muddy Creek Farm Library had a number of very rare varieties for the participants to see. The genesis for this examination of the Ephrata collection is an ongoing research project being conducted by the Young Center at Elizabethtown College, begun two years ago as part of a conference observing the 350th anniversary of the first printing of the Martyrs’ Mirror.