What I Did This Summer

Another summer weekend is upon us. If you're looking for something to do or someplace to go, check out the August program listings. If you're thinking ahead to next weekend, we have a list of which sites will be open on Monday, Sept. 7 for Labor Day. And if you're thinking beyond that, our September listings are for you.

Our guest blogger this week is Kendra Ressler, a PHMC Keystone Intern who spent her summer at Ephrata Cloister. This fall, Kendra starts her senior year at Houghton College, where she is majoring in Communications. During her internship, she learned all aspects of historic site operations, including marketing, customer service, and historical interpretation. In this post, she describes a collections research project she undertook with great results. (Thanks to Ephrata Cloister for photos and additional info.)

Cover of John K. Madlem's autograph book
When I found out I was interning at Ephrata Cloister, little did I know that the research project I would be working on would involve a late 19th-century album. The Cloister had recently acquired an autograph album (ca. 1879-82) whose original owner, John K. Madlem, attended the Ephrata Academy, which met in the white schoolhouse on the grounds. My job was to research him as well as the other signers of his album. Every Thursday afternoon I made my way to the Cocalico Valley Historical Society where, with the support of librarian Cynthia Marquet, I worked to identify the people who wrote in the album.

Ephrata Academy was a public school by the time Madlem was a student there
We were able to identify 36 of the 38 signers, which is not bad considering that all we had to go on was their names and many of them used initials instead of the full names. We learned that many of the signers became important members of the town of Ephrata. Among them was Charles S. Yeager, who along with his brother, John J. Yeager, Jr., founded The Ephrata Review newspaper, which turned out to be a valuable tool in researching the signers. Family connections were also made which gives us an idea of John K. Madlem's extended family, including first cousins and second cousins once removed.

Teacher John J. Yeager, Sr., signed the book in January 1880
While I still want to attempt to find the remaining unidentified signers, I am glad I was able to find information on all the others I researched. This all would not have been possible without the support of the Ephrata Cloister and the Cocalico Historical Society. I leave you with the opening statement from the autograph book:

To my friends:-

My album’s open! Come and see!
What! won’t you waste a line for me?
Write but a thought a word or two
That memory may revert to you

John K. Madlem.


Post a Comment