Wrapping Up March

The March program page gets you through tomorrow (I've highlighted some events below) and the April page is ready to go. Please note that Trails of History sites will be closed on Sunday, April 1, for Easter (with the possible exception of Washington Crossing Historic Park - please check their website before heading there).

So, we're at the end of March. I thought I'd share a few items that have come across the radar here at Trailheads HQ but haven't made it into previous posts.

Close-up from tinsmithing workshop at Somerset Historical Center (via Facebook)
I really love this photo. It was posted along with several others from Somerset Historical Center's recent tinsmithing workshop. Roy and Sharon Phillips helped workshop participants learn how to make a variety of tinware forms, including a candle sconce, a drinking mug, and a 3-sided lantern. They used tools from several different eras of tinsmithing, so participants learned skills as well as the history of the craft. Check out Somerset Historical Center's calendar of events for more hands-on classes coming up this spring and summer.

Leadership Lackawanna Core Program participants learn leadership, interpersonal, and managerial skills, as well an understanding of community issues and topics. Jim Lockwood, of the Times-Tribune, recently reported that the Class of 2018 is working with the Anthracite Heritage Museum to mark 250 years of anthracite mining in the U.S. The class members will be procuring a commemorative plaque to be placed at the museum, which documents and interprets Northeast Pennsylvania's history of hard-coal mining, as well as its related industries, businesses, and immigrant culture. The plaque will be dedicated at a cocktail reception on May 10.

As we lurch fitfully into spring (surely, we're just about there), many thoughts turn to gardens and gardening. Chef Walter Staib posted earlier this week that he is preparing an episode of his award-winning Taste of History program featuring the gardens at Pennsbury Manor. Staib's show focuses on 18th-century cuisine and cooking throughout the world, and he filmed scenes for two episodes at Pennsbury back in November (see photos from the shoot). I'm not sure when either will air, but we'll be sure to let you know.

The PHMC has approved 16 new historical markers, commemorating a wide range of people and topics from Pennsylvania's history (full list in press release). To learn more about the Historical Marker Program, including how to submit a person, place, or event for consideration, visit the State Historic Preservation Office marker page. And since we're saying goodbye for now to Women's History Month, check out this list of current markers related to women's history.

Coming up tomorrow, March 31

On This Day in History, March 30

STEM Learning in Erie and More

Please check out the March program page for info on this weekend's activities on the Trails of History.

Many thanks to frequent guest blogger Linda Bolla, of the Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara, for the following info and photos:

Erie Maritime Museum recently debuted its first traveling STEM exhibit. Using this series of simple machines, a student can both feel and measure the mechanical advantage gained with the addition of pulleys. The Museum’s design elements are unique – students lift 12-pound cannon balls using a rig constructed with a maritime feel: proper ship’s blocks and hempex lines secured to a rail of belaying pins.

EMM Intern Brett Eckstrom teaches a lesson in mechanical advantage
The exhibit was designed to be easily portable, constructed and rigged by Museum volunteer docents, who also field tested it at Penn State Behrend’s Family STEM Night last month. Lesson plans and an assembly/safety manual were drafted by Museum Intern Brett Eckstrom, a PSU Behrend History Major in his junior year. Brett will also train museum docents to deliver the lesson this term.

EMM STEM team proudly debuts their hands-on exhibit (l to r, Ed Bolla, Brett Eckstrom, Rich Hall; not shown, Chris Laird and Linda Bolla)

In Other News...

So after mostly dodging the past several nor'easters, central PA got socked on the second day of spring. While other parts of the state have been hit with some of the earlier storms (and this one as well), Storm Toby was the Harrisburg area's first really serious brush with snow this winter. Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum posted some lovely after-storm photos (see below and visit their Facebook page for more).

Yellow Barn, Erisman House, and Tavern at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum (via FB)
As a suggested means of whiling away a snow day, Landis Valley also posted a chocolate cake recipe from the Landis Valley Cookbook (p. 86) and media assistant Shayla Carey posted her video of preparing the cake. Don't watch it if you're hungry!

Bushy Run Battlefield posted a time-lapse video of staff and volunteers changing the period uniform on a mannequin in the visitor center exhibit (watch below or on YouTube). Bushy Run had a very successful Charter Day, but is not actually open for the 2018 season until Wednesday, April 18. In the meantime, they are getting ready for visitors.

On this Day in History - March 23

STEM edition:
  • 1857 - Elisha Otis installed the first modern passenger elevator in a public building.
  • 1903 - The Wright brothers obtained an airplane patent.
  • 1965 - America's first two-person space flight took off from Cape Kennedy with astronauts Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young aboard. The craft was the Gemini 3.

That Reminds Me of a Story

Please be sure to check the March program page if you're looking for things to do this weekend on the Trails of History.

Handknit socks by Ruth M. Davis, American Red Cross volunteer in WWII
(PA Military Museum, MM99.18.2A-E)
Last week's post in honor of Women's History Month, prompted staff at the Pennsylvania Military Museum to remind me of one of my favorite stories. I mentioned in last week's post that we are working on new exhibits at the Military Museum that will include the evolving roles of women in the military. The exhibits will also explore the home front - the wartime roles of civilians and families in Pennsylvania as well as Pennsylvania industries.

Ruth McDaniel Davis was newly married when her husband went off to fight in World War II. She went to work for the USO and volunteered for the American Red Cross. Like many women and girls on the home front, she knitted hats, gloves, and socks for soldiers (I remember my grandmother talking about knitting socks during World War I). In the 1990s, while helping Ruth pack up her house, her son found a bag with knitting instructions, needles and yarn, one completed sock, and one still on double-pointed needles (see photo above). He asked his mother why she didn't finish the second sock--she replied, "The war ended." She put the socks aside and went about the business of post-war life. The socks, yarn, needles, and instructions are now part of the Military Museum collections and are exhibited periodically.

Ruth M. Davis, circa World War II (PA Military Museum, MM99.18)

Charter Day Recap

As you probably know, every year on the second Sunday in March, sites on the Pennsylvania Trails of History mark the Commonwealth's birthday and celebrate the 1681 Charter that granted William Penn the land that became Pennsylvania. At The State Museum of Pennsylvania, the four-page original Charter goes on display for about a week and then returns to its special place in the Pennsylvania State Archives (see video of the Charter being brought out for exhibit). (The rest of the year, visitors to see a high-quality photographic reproduction of the Charter.) This year's "guest documents" were four Indian deeds by which land was given to William Penn and his heirs.

At Pennsbury Manor, 2018 marks the 300th anniversary of William Penn's death and staff will be particularly focused on Penn's legacy. For Charter Day, Pennsbury displayed a 1682 manuscript of "The Great Law," Pennsylvania's first governing document (read more in this Courier Times article.) The six-page manuscript will be on display through Tuesday, March 20, so there's time to stop by this weekend.

Two of six pages of William Penn's Great Law on exhibit at Pennsbury Manor for Charter Day 2018 (via FB)
Most sites on the Pennsylvania Trails of History were open free of charge on March 11 for Charter Day. You can find photos on Facebook of activities at Bushy Run Battlefield, Conrad Weiser Homestead, Ephrata Cloister, Hope Lodge, and Joseph Priestley House (I'll add others as I find them or visit your favorite site on Facebook to check).

Bushy Run Battlefield was open on Charter Day for the first time in a number of years thanks to dedicated volunteers and a highly organized high school intern. More than 400 people enjoyed museum and battlefield tours as well as (depending on their ages and interests) children's activities and samples from Bushy Run Winery (photo Bushy Run Battlefield)

Women's History Month

Please check the March program page for info on events this weekend, including Charter Day (Sunday, March 11). Don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour by 2 am Sunday (that is, the ones that don't do it themselves, cackling away like an Amazon Echo).

Floyd Schoonover, holding Mayme Schoonover, and Myrtle Sinsabaugh Schoonover
(PA Lumber Museum, 80.1.32, Bowers & Rawson Collection)
We're part way through Women's History Month, and yesterday (March 8) was International Women's Day, so this seems like a good time to take a look at women's history on and around the Trails of History (of course, anytime is a good time to look at all kinds of history). What follows is a series of "snapshots," not a comprehensive list of women's history as interpreted at our sites.

While the history of the lumber industry in Pennsylvania has been dominated by men, the exhibits at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum do include women and their role in logging and in the conservation movement. Efforts to add more women's history are ongoing (such as this story posted on Facebook). The photo above shows a logging camp foreman or jobber with his wife and daughter; women were present in the camps with their families and sometimes as cooks. The photo below shows a boarding house in Leetonia, one of the lumber towns featured in the museum's core exhibit.

Seymour Whitney's boarding house, Leetonia (Tioga County), 1893
(PA Lumber Museum, 76.25.3, Wilferd E. Whitney Collection)

In addition to interpreting the lives and work of anthracite coal miners, the Anthracite Heritage Museum also explores the textile industry, which employed women in lace factories and as garment workers.

Textile machinery on exhibit at Anthracite Heritage Museum (from website)

Pennsbury Manor's interpretation includes the lives of Gulielma Springett Penn (1644-1694) and Hannah Callowhill Penn (1671-1726), including their roles in supporting and sustaining William Penn's Holy Experiment (read more about Hannah and see a portrait in Pennsbury's International Women's Day Facebook post). The work of other women at Pennsbury, both enslaved, indentured, and free, is also an important part of the programming and exhibits at the site.

The skills and knowledge of open hearth cooking and baking are researched and interpreted at Pennsbury Manor (from Facebook)

Military reenactment and timeline programs at the Pennsylvania Military Museum include the evolving roles of women in the military. New interpretive exhibits currently in development will highlight the experiences of individuals in all branches of the military throughout the course of Pennsylvania history and include women serving on the home front and in conflict zones.

Interpretation at PA Military Museum's "Vietnam Revisited" program includes the role of women as medical personnel (via Facebook)

In related news...

Curious as to how many PHMC Historical Markers feature women or issues related to women's history? I was too, so I did a quick search and downloaded a list. Check it out.

The New York Times announced a project to publish obituaries for notable women whose passing was ignored in its pages at the time of their deaths. The first 15 obituaries in the "Overlooked" project include Ida B. Wells, Ada Lovelace, and Emily Warren Roebling (read all 15 and learn more about the project, including how to nominate a woman for inclusion).

National History Day has posted a preview of a larger project, "Women in American History," which provides resources for teachers to integrate women's history into their classes and encourage students to examine primary sources from colonial America to the present. Materials are available to download.

In honor of Women's History Month, Governor Tom Wolf's Facebook page features a video highlighting women who have made significant contributions to Pennsylvania and beyond (view the video).

On This Day in History - March 9

In keeping with this week's women's history focus (but I managed to get baseball in too)...
  • 1976 - 1st female cadets accepted at West Point Military Academy
  • 1979 - Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn orders teams to provide equal access to female reporters
  • 1990 - Dr. Antonia Novello sworn in as first Hispanic and first female Surgeon General

It's Spring...Or Is It?

The March program page is now up and running. I've highlighted some of this weekend's events below.

An early spring day in late February at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (via Facebook)
February ended with a taste of spring, but it looks like March will hit us with another blast of winter. [UPDATE: Erie Maritime Museum is closed today, March 2, due to the weather. Be sure to check ahead at any site if the weather in your area is looking bad.] Why does that always take me by surprise? Nevertheless, I enjoyed the warmth and seeing early spring views on Facebook, like the ones Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum shared earlier this week (see more like the photo above on Landis Valley's Facebook page).

Now that it's March, it's also Women's History Month. We'll keep you posted on women's history events on the Trails of History, and much of the ongoing interpretation at sites features women's work and their roles in their communities. In the meantime, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History blog this week featured a photo array of women's clothing that exemplifies a wide range of work roles for women through time. Worth a look, I think.

This weekend...(assuming we don't all blow away)

Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara
March 3: Pancake Breakfast—the Flagship Niagara League will host a pancake breakfast at Burch Farms Country Market in North East, PA. Cost is $7 per person and a portion of the proceeds supports the League's programs. Tickets are available ahead of time (see FB event page for details and menu). 7-11 am.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
March 3: Winter Learning for Adults—Scratched Eggs and Blacksmithing (not together). Information and online registration are available on the website.

“James Wilson – U.S. Army Recruit”  (photo credit – James Wilson)
Pennsylvania Military Museum
March 4: Friends' Lecture SeriesJames M. Wilson will recount his experiences in the U.S. Army in an illustrated talk entitled “Drafted into the Korean War.” 2-3 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
March 2: Storytime—visit Village Square to learn about kitchens of the past, make pretend pancakes, and enjoy a reading of Tomie dePaola's Pancakes for Breakfast. Included in general admission. 10-11 am.

On This Day (in Sports) in History - March 2

  • 1874 - The batter's box (brief definition) is officially adopted by the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (more than you ever wanted to know, about anything).
  • 1918 - The New York Yankees purchase the contract of 1st baseman George Burns from the Detroit Tigers and immediately trade him to the Philadelphia Athletics.
  • 1962 - Playing for the Philadelphia Warriors basketball team, Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points against the New York Knicks (there is a PHMC historical marker commemorating Chamberlain, who was born in Philadelphia).