The New Normal (for Now)

For information on closures and other schedule changes on the PA Trails of History, please see last week's post (it will also give you an idea of how rapidly things were changing late last week and over the weekend.) For ongoing updates, visit PHMC's homepage or the official Commonwealth of PA COVID-19 info page.

Dining room table with red patterned tablecloth and laptop computer
My home "office" on Monday morning
For now, we're settling in for site closures through the end of March and event cancellations through the end of April (we'll post updates as we get them). It's tremendously disruptive to site programming and operations (and we've had to postpone our annual Volunteer of the Year awards ceremony), but it's where we are. Those of us who can work remotely from home are teleworking, rapidly improving our Skype and other online meeting skills. Other staff are checking on buildings and tending to animals and plants, working one-at-a-time. We're doing our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by social distancing and "flattening the curve" (I found this Washington Post simulation to be a useful illustration).

Dining room table with papers and folders strewn next to laptop computer
My home "office" Thursday afternoon

Site personnel and social media folks are quickly exploring ways to share interesting historical content with the public (beyond what they normally do, of course, which is a lot). Here are a few examples. If you aren't already following your favorite sites on social media, now is a good time to check them out.

Image description: black and white photo of two men in shirt sleeves and hats, standing on either side of a large tree with a notch cut out. They are each holding one end of a two-man crosscut saw. Text reads, "Woodhick Social Distancing...keep one crosscut saw's length apart."

The Pennsylvania Military Museum blog is sharing information about items in their collection and the personal stories they represent. Stories include that of a US Army private in France during World War I and that of an American sailor from Erie who took part in the nuclear tests known as "Operation Crossroads" (the Flagship Niagara Facebook page shared the post to their followers as well). New content will be posted as staff continues to gather and share information.

Speaking of Erie, the Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara issued a "Marine Art Challenge," sharing paintings of ships and other maritime scenes and inviting families (and anyone else) to create their own art and post it.

Metal miners lamp with a shield and the letters U.M.W. of A.
Miners lamp from the collection of Anthracite Heritage Museum (via Facebook)

Expect to see lots of photos of our collections in the coming weeks. The Anthracite Heritage Museum posted the image above and invited followers to answer a question about what the letters stand for (and a bonus question about where the lamp was made). You can find the answers in the comments on this Facebook post.

Pennsbury Manor used their Facebook page to ask readers what kinds of content they want to see.

And I will leave you with these lovely photos from Graeme Park's Facebook page. Please be safe, be calm, and visit the Trails of History virtually during this time. And support your local businesses if you can.


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