5 Things to Help You Shake Off the Post-Turkey Blues

All Trails of History sites will be closed tomorrow, Nov. 26. All of us here at Trailheads HQ wish you and yours a happy, safe, and tension-free Thanksgiving. Try for at least two out of three!

Snow at the PA Lumber Museum for Thanksgiving (via Facebook)
 Last Friday's post included some suggestions for things you can talk about around the dinner table (see what The Onion has to offer on this topic) or do to keep everyone occupied during the food coma recovery period. Today, in a special mid-week post, a few more ideas for the days ahead, in the event you actually want to leave the house.

About half a dozen sites (see the list here) will be open on Friday, Nov. 27--a museum or historic site visit gets everyone out of the house and out of the mall. If you must succumb to the cultural pressures of shopping til you drop the day after Thanksgiving, why not include a museum store in your itinerary?

Sites will be back to their regular schedules on Saturday, Nov. 28, which also happens to be Small Business Saturday. You can shop small AND shop local at our museum stores.

Ephrata Cloister Museum Store's Shop Small event runs Nov. 28-Dec. 17
Shoppers can enter to win this gift basket

Several sites have special events scheduled for Saturday:

And if you're just too tired from all the holiday hub-bub (hubbub?), why not relax with a nice hot cup of tea or an adult beverage and consult the December program listings? Even with winter coming on, there's still plenty to do on the Trails of History. We're looking forward to seeing you.

Oh, and one more thing. Tuesday, Dec. 1, is #GivingTuesday, an online initiative to encourage generosity and make it easy to support causes near and dear to your heart. Pennsbury Manor is participating, as is the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation. I'll update this post if I learn of other Trails of History sites taking part this year.

6 Relatively Safe Things to Talk about at Thanksgiving (I Think)

Looking for something to do this weekend? Be sure to check out the November program listings.

Ready or not, next week is Thanksgiving. This week, as a public service, we present some ideas for things you can talk about around the dinner table on Thursday or during the following couple of days to avoid fighting talking about religion, politics, and whether or not Mom's gravy is as good as Grandma used to make. You're welcome.

Sometimes it's fun to sit with the family and look at photos, so why not some related to the Trails of History? No need to comment on Uncle Bob's bad combover or that awful dress cousin Sue wore to the senior prom in 1979. Luzerne County Visitors Bureau (anthracite region) just announced the top 10 photos in their fall photo contest. The winning entry, by Cheryl Miller, features a streetscape at Eckley Miners' Village. Congratulations, Cheryl! (Also worth noting is that Eckley will begin accepting entries for its Winter Wonderland photo contest on Dec. 1.)

Cheryl Miller - WINNING PHOTO! Congratulations! Eckley Miners Village

Posted by Luzerne County Visitors Bureau on Friday, November 13, 2015

Okay, so this next one could turn sticky pretty quickly, but I still think it's worth sharing. StoryCorps, a project that has recorded and archived thousands of personal stories of everyday life and significant events, has launched "the Great Thanksgiving Listen." A pilot project aimed primarily at high school teachers and students, this initiative encourages students age 13 and older to take advantage of family get-togethers over the holiday to gather and save the wisdom of our elders. You don't have to be a high school student or teacher to participate, but you must be at least 13 years old (and have parental permission if you're under 18). For more information and instructions on how to get involved, visit the project website.

Even if you're not up for recording family stories, you might want to gather family history info while you have people in a weakened condition due to overuse of mashed potatoes. The PHMC has been partnering with Ancestry.com to digitize and make available family history records held by the PA State Archives. If your family is from Pennsylvania, you may be able to find birth, marriage, and death records; military service records; and census and property info. A Pennsylvania zip code is all you need to create a free account (if you already have an Ancestry.com account you can use that).

Or you might want to check out the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania's new and enhanced online catalog of its library and archives. If you have railroad history fans in your household (and who of us doesn't?) you (or they) might enjoy searching for particular pieces of history or browsing through the records of this amazing collection. There's even an intro video to help you navigate.

Or you can do some brainstorming about things that have and haven't changed. Linton Weeks, national correspondent for NPR Digital News, is crowdsourcing a story on things that people still do the way people did them 100 years ago (and yes, he's aware of the potential pitfalls there). In a post on the NPR History Dept. blog, he goes into more detail on what he's looking for and provides the example of Carillon Historical Park in Dayton, OH, that is a museum and a production brewery, complete with period-costumed brewster (which is apparently what female brewers were called in the 1850s). Anyway, I'm thinking some of you out there might have info and ideas to share based on your own experience or places you've visited. The article has more info about how to get in touch with Mr. Weeks.

And, okay, this one's about pictures too, but I said 6 things, so you're getting 6 things. For more pictures to look at, Washington Crossing Historic Park announced the finalists in the fall photo contest, all of which are on display in the Visitor Center. The People's Choice award went to Justin DeRosa.

And the People's Choice winner is....Justin DeRosa, for this stunning photo of a cannon and the Mahlon Taylor House in...

Posted by Washington Crossing Historic Park on Sunday, November 15, 2015

And a little bonus, shared by the folks at Washington Crossing. A recent article in People magazine featured photographer John Olson, who has put together a team of technicians and engineers to create 3-D versions of paintings that allow people who are blind to experience paintings through touch. Guess which famous painting is among those shone in the article?

Pulitzer Prize Winner to Speak at Anthracite Heritage Museum

Please check out the November program listings to see what else is happening on the Trails of History this weekend.

Tomorrow afternoon, Nov. 14, from 3:15 to 4:45, composer Julia Wolfe will talk about her Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio, Anthracite Fields, at the Anthracite Heritage Museum (AHM) in Scranton. As noted in an article in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Wolfe conducted some of her research at the museum, including interviewing AHM docent Barbara Powell about her experiences growing up in the hard coal region. Wolfe told Times Leader reporter Mary Therese Biebel that her conversations with Powell provided the inspiration for the "Flowers" portion of the oratorio, shedding light on ways that mining families added beauty to their daily lives.

Anthracite Fields, which won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music, was commissioned by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia through Meet the Composer’s Commissioning Music/USA program, made possible by generous support from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund. Additional support was made possible through the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia Alan Harler New Ventures Fund, The Presser Foundation, The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

Bang on a Can All Stars (photo provided by Wyoming Seminary)
Bang on a Can All Stars and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, conducted by Julian Wachner, will perform Anthracite Fields tomorrow night, 7:30 pm, at Wyoming Seminary's Kirby Center for the Creative Arts, Kingston (Wolfe will give a pre-concert talk at 6:30). Tickets are $10 online or at the door, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Anthracite Heritage Museum.

To learn more about Anthracite Fields and composer Julia Wolfe, check out this interview on NPR's "All Things Considered," visit Bang on a Can's website, or watch this brief clip:

In Other News...

On a related note, the State Museum's "Pennsylvania Icons" exhibit has opened. Among the objects are items carried by Marilyn McCusker, a roof bolter helper who became the first woman killed in a deep-mine accident when the roof of the Rushton Mine (Centre County) collapsed on Oct. 2, 1979. McCusker was a bituminous (soft coal) miner, but her story is similar in many ways to those told in the anthracite region about the dangers of mining.

Although leaf peeping season is pretty much over, there are still plenty of reasons to visit PA's northern tier. A new driving tour designed by the Greater Renovo Area Heritage Park Association features locations and public art related to the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Lumber Heritage Region (the map was supported by LHR and other entities). Of course, one of the stops is the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, whose new exhibit (that I might have mentioned once or twice here in Trailheads) includes a section on the CCC and its legacy in northern PA. What I haven't mentioned (I don't think) is that the Visitor Center at the Lumber Museum will now be open year-round, so if you're in the area, be sure to stop in.

If you're more of an armchair tourist, you might want to see what's happening in Bucks County with new Google Street View Trekker tours that include Washington Crossing Historic Park. It took me a little while to figure out the navigation, but it was interesting once I did. Not a replacement, in my opinion, for being there in person, but a useful tool for anyone wanting to preview a visit.

PA Modern: A Photography Exhibit of Midcentury Architecture

Please be sure to check out the November program listings for events coming up this weekend and the rest of the month.
Today’s guest blogger is Beth Hager, PHMC’s Director of Strategic Initiatives. She shares some info about the new State Museum exhibit, “PA Modern,” which she co-curated with Amy Hammond and Carol Buck, with assistance from the PA State Historic Preservation Office and the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation.

Last spring on Trailheads we shared a call for photographs of Modernist buildings in Pennsylvania to enter a juried photo exhibit at The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. In honor of the 50th anniversary of The State Museum and Archives Complex this year, the earlier post explained, the show would help celebrate and shine a light on a distinctive, progressive style that, although found throughout the Commonwealth, is often “hidden in plain sight.” It was sort of a tall order – would photographers embrace the assignment and would a solid exhibition result?

We’re happy to report that Pennsylvania photographers – from amateur enthusiasts to seasoned professionals – did in fact step up to the task in a brilliant way with stellar entries. “PA Modern” opened to the public at The State Museum on Sunday, October 25, with an audience of approximately 150 photographers and fans of Midcentury Modern. Two award winners were announced at a brief ceremony; both photographs will become part of PHMC's permanent collection.

Andrew Hoff, a Camp Hill photographer and artist often featured in “Art of the State,” won the “Best of Show” purchase prize for his photo of Barlup’s Appliances, a “Jetson’s –style” circa 1960s store in Enola (Cumberland County)

Uniontown resident Joseph Skompski, a newcomer to juried exhibits, won the “Best of The State Museum and Archives” purchase prize for his evocative portrait of the Pennsylvania State Archives tower

The show includes 98 photographs (list of photographers and their home counties) showcasing Modern architecture from across the Commonwealth, with diverse scenes of homes, churches, skyscrapers, diners, and schools. All photos in the exhibit were selected by an independent panel of jurors: Dennis Hockman, editor of Preservation magazine (National Trust for Historic Preservation); Betsy Manning, Philadelphia-area photojournalist; and David Oresick, Executive Director of Pittsburgh’s Silver Eye Center for Photography.

Attendees at the exhibit opening included architect Irwin Stein, who in 1958 designed the home featured in Laura Kicey's entry, "Wallingford I" (photo of Mr. Stein by Don Giles)

"PA Modern" is complemented by a display of early images and objects related to the creation of the Museum and Archives Complex, including the original architects’ model and furniture made by Savoy Furniture of Williamsport for the building 50 years ago (and recently refurbished)

Join me at the State Museum for a tour of the exhibit on Sunday, November 15, at 2 pm and meet “Best of Show” award winner Andrew Hoff and PHMC historic preservation specialist Bryan Van Sweden. This will be the first of several “Artists Conversations” that will take place during the course of the show, which is open through February 28, 2016.