National Volunteer Week 2020, #MuseumSunshine, and Earth Day

PHMC's offices and Trails of History sites are currently closed to the public through May 8. Governor Wolf has announced a phased reopening plan; as we learn more about how the Trails of History sites fit that plan, we will keep you posted. The best way to stay up-to-date on site activities and plans is via social media. The April program page has a list of Facebook links for each site; you can find their other social media platforms that way. For up-to-date information on Pennsylvania's response to COVID-19, please visit the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health website.

It has been a busy week on social media for Pennsylvania Trails of History sites. I'm trying my best to keep up with all the activity, but it's impossible. I'm providing a few examples below, but to really get the full picture you'll be best served by following Pennsylvania Trails of History and/or your favorite sites on Facebook (try 'em all - their Facebook links are on the April program page).

National Volunteer Week 2020

Graphic shows shapes of human hands reaching upwards in shades of blue and tan
Part of the graphic design of PHMC's Volunteer of the Year awards ceremony booklet (design by Lauren Bennett)

In last week's post, we gave you info on this year's PHMC Outstanding Service Award recipients and the Volunteer of the Year honorees for the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania State Archives. We had planned to celebrate with our honorees in person, but well, you know. We still hope to reschedule that event. As is true for much of what we're doing on the Trails of History right now, we managed lots of online "thank you" posts. As National Volunteer Week draws to a close, here are a few examples (you can find many more on the Facebook pages of our Trails of History sites - links are on the April program page).

PHMC's executive director, Andrea Lowery, (above) provided a heartfelt #ThankYouFromHome to all of our honorees, which PHMC's digital director posted to the Pennsylvania Trails of History Facebook page. Video "thank yous" were also recorded by Brenda Reigle, director of the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums (her video); Beth Hager, director of The State Museum of Pennsylvania (her video); and David Carmicheal, director of the Pennsylvania State Archives (his video).

Other sites posting "thank you" videos included Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara (for Outstanding Service Award winners Jack (in memoriam) and Maxine Gold, and the museum's co-honorees for Volunteer of the Year), Drake Well Museum and Park, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.


On Tuesday, April 21, museum social media accounts were bright and shiny, sharing artwork, objects, and images evoking sunlight. As you can see above, Bushy Run Battlefield took part with an array of images from the site. Daniel Boone Homestead posted a sunny shot of budding spring greenery, and Ephrata Cloister highlighted images of the sun in two fraktur letters in the Christian ABC book in their collection.

Earth Day

Wednesday, April 22, was the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. Although the need for distancing certainly torpedoed lots of plans for events to mark the day, social media proved to be up to the challenge of keeping it on people's minds. Pennsbury Manor (above) shared a beautiful photo of a blossoming apple tree in their garden (noting that their tree is a descendant of Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree - you think you know a site). The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum's Facebook cover photo proclaimed that "Every Day is Earth Day," and the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum posted photos and info noting that the museum was built as part of a mine reclamation project - the before and after photos are striking.

Volunteers of the Year for Service in 2019

PHMC's offices and Trails of History sites are currently closed to the public through April 30 May 8 (per Gov. Wolf on 4/20/20). The best way to stay up-to-date on site activities and plans is via social media. The April program page has a list of Facebook links for each site; you can find their other social media platforms that way. For up-to-date information on Pennsylvania's response to COVID-19, please visit the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health website.

Well, it's National Volunteer Month, but nothing about this is normal. We had planned to hold our annual Volunteer of the Year recognition event tomorrow, April 18. Instead we have postponed it and hope to reschedule some time this summer. We're doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19, which regular Trailheads readers know from following our posts in recent weeks. Nevertheless, I'm sad that we aren't able to gather in person, yet, to thank this year's honorees (keep your eye on PHMC's social media channels tomorrow, however). Our volunteers provide so much talent to support what we do on the Trails of History, we can never fully thank them. But we can try.

The 2019 honorees, including the recipients of the Outstanding Service Award, are pictured below, and there is a link for each so that you can read more about their volunteer activities (thank you to all the sites for providing this information). Please join me in congratulating them and thanking them for their support of PHMC's Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania State Archives.

Outstanding Service Award

Smiling older man with gray hair, wearing blue sweater and lanyard
Smiling older women with brown hair, wearing blue sweater and lanyard

Jack (in memoriam) and Maxine Gold, Erie Maritime Museum & U.S. Brig Niagara (citation)

Volunteers of the Year for Service in 2019

Man wearing collared shirt with stripes, seated at desk with hands folded

James Shemanski, Anthracite Heritage Museum & Scranton Iron Furnaces (citation)

Woman in tan coat stands to left behind a table, there is a red and white Rev War era flag hanging from the ceiling

Stephanie (Stevie) Demott, Brandywine Battlefield Park (citation)

Woman with brown hair wearing a red plaid shirt and solid red vest stands in front of a stone wall

Jean Saunders, Bushy Run Battlefield (citation)

Man wearing glasses and a plaid shirt stands in front of a light-colored wall

Garry Zerbe, Conrad Weiser Homestead (citation)

Man wearing glasses and sweater with blocks of gray, white and black stands in front of a stone wall

Bruce Chadbourne, Cornwall Iron Furnace (citation)

Man with beard wearing shorts, t-shirt, and green apron stands in front of a large barbecue smoker filled with racks of ribs

Bruce Peterson, Drake Well Museum & Park (citation)

Smiling blond woman wearing a black turtleneck and red sweater stands in front of a tan wall

Georgia Nause, Eckley Miners' Village (citation)

Man with a gray and white beard wearing a checked shirt and standing in front of a reddish wall

David Heffley, Ephrata Cloister (citation)

Two men stand in front of a replica of a ship's mast and rigging. Man on left wears a dark long-sleeved shirt and is holding a framed certificate. Man on right has a beard and wears a long-sleeved shirt and quilted vest. Both are wearing glasses.

Larry Kisielewski (left) and Brian Bailey, Erie Maritime Museum & U.S. Brig Niagara (citation)

Man with goatee wears a collared shirt and dark blazer. He is standing in front of a light-colored wall with a leaf and vine pattern.

Bob Bradley, Hope Lodge (citation)

Man with glasses wears a checked shirt, striped tie and gray blazer

George Godlewski, Joseph Priestley House (citation)

Two men stand on either side of a white picket fence. Man on left wears a long-sleeved white shirt, brown vest, and straw boater hat. Man on right wears a long-sleeved check shirt, blue vest, and a brown cap.

Sam Wise (left) and Connell O'Brien, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (citation)

Woman in white shirt and dark pants wears white gloves and is wrapped in bubble wrap. Another woman stands behind her.

Coralee Syrko (in front), Old Economy Village (citation)

Woman wearing 17th-century style skirt and short gown with white kerchief and white cap. She is seated at a spinning wheel in an outdoor setting.

Peggy Lehnen, Pennsbury Manor (citation)

Man in jeans and t-shirt wears safety helmet and eye and ear protection. He is operating a large sawmill used to cut lumber from logs.

Dan Davis, Pennsylvania Lumber Museum (citation)

Man with a mustache wearing blue shirt with the words "Pennsylvania Military Museum" and his name "Mike" embroidered on it

Michael Poorman, Pennsylvania Military Museum (citation)

Man wearing jeans and long-sleeved denim shirt with Railroad Museum logo. He is standing in front of a large model railroad layout.

George Swartz, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (citation)

Man wearing blue pants and a blue shirt with red and white stripes. He is standing in front of a museum exhibit that includes a large black and white photo of a house, a spinning wheel, and a larger wheel on a frame

Chris Zanoni, Somerset Historical Center (citation)

Woman with short hair wears a pale pink turtleneck and a lavender sweater. She is wearing a necklace made of gold or silver wire and freshwater pearls

Patricia Sabold, The State Museum of Pennsylvania (citation)

Woman wearing a short-sleeved white top standing in front of a large bush with dark green leaves and dark pink blossoms

Myretta Anderson, Pennsylvania State Archives (citation)

Focus on Collections - Mining PPE

So we are on Week 4 of Trails of History sites closed to the public. All onsite public activities and all onsite events are canceled through April 30. Staff are either on site performing maintenance and security duties--thank you to these essential workers--or teleworking on projects to keep services and communications going and plan for our eventual reopening. To see what your favorite sites are sharing on social media, check the April program page for links to Facebook. To see some recent highlights, check out last week's post. And if you're looking for videos to watch, PHMC's YouTube channel has all kinds of options.

For up-to-date information on Pennsylvania's response to COVID-19, please visit the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health website. Also, you may want to read info about increasing concerns about scams related to economic stimulus payments.

This week's post comes to us from Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums curator Rachel Yerger (see her March 27 post on Hope Lodge collections), with a focus on mining personal protective equipment (PPE) in the collection at Cornwall Iron Furnace. Cornwall site administrator Mike Emery provided additional images for the post. To see other mining-related collections, visit PHMC's new Museum Collections online portal and select Anthracite Heritage Museum, Cornwall Iron Furnace, or Eckley Miners' Village on the PHMC Museums tab.

UPDATE 4/20/2020: Rich Hall, a docent at Erie Maritime Museum and a retired design engineer for General Electric, shared some info on Personal Protective Equipment [sorry, we're having trouble with that link] and a Mine Monument in western PA that he presented at a meeting of the Western Mining Electrical Association. Rich also made a presentation on the Erie Maritime Museum, which is housed in a former Penelec electrical generating plant (some of Rich's EMM projects have been reported on in Trailheads posts in 2014 and 2015).

What is PPE? I’m sure by now many have heard the acronym and know that it stands for Personal Protective Equipment. But PPE means something different for a miner than it does for a medical professional. Against the harsh underground conditions faced by miners, thin nitrile or latex gloves just won’t cut it. This week I thought I would highlight some PPE used in the Cornwall Iron Mines during the mid-late 20th Century.

Cornwall is home to one of the most important iron-ore mines in Pennsylvania history. Ore mining was the backbone of the Cornwall Iron Furnace, which produced iron from 1742 until 1883. Even when the furnace ceased production, the mines continued to operate under the helm of Bethlehem Steel until 1973 when the mines were closed due to extensive flooding from Hurricane Agnes.

Poster shows tree stump with ax stuck in it and a turkey with a metal pipe protecting its neck. Text reads: To Save Your Life, You Can't Beat Safety
November 1963 National Safety Council Poster, posted by Cornwall Mine #4, Cornwall, PA. (Photo from the Charlie Neal research collection, Cornwall Iron Furnace. )
Mine safety became an industry priority in the United States around the turn of the 20th Century. As with many other industry safety regulations, it took a wave of mining disasters to reform industry safety standards. The U.S. Bureau of Mines was formed in 1910 and while their mission has evolved over the years, their main goal has been safety. Around the same time Mine Safety Appliances Inc. (MSA Inc.), a Pittsburgh-based company, was founded by John T. Ryan Sr. and George H. Deike.

Safety helmet with brown textured coating, short brim, and bracket on front for a lamp - catalog number CF2018.2.2 is at top of photo
CF2018.2.2 Miner’s Safety Helmet. This miner’s helmet, made by Mine Safety Appliances Inc., was used by Francis Boughter while working at Cornwall Ore Mine, Lebanon, PA. Mr. Boughter worked in Cornwall mines until it was shut down in 1973. (Learn more about this object in PHMC's Museum Collections portal.)
One of the first products MSA Inc. made was an electric cap lamp. Prior to electric cap lamps, miners used flame-based light sources, like carbides or oil lamps, which created considerable safety hazards in mines. Not only were electric cap lamps a massive safety enhancement, but they also improved visibility, which increased productivity. 

Round electric light connected by black cord to a rectangular battery pack
CF2018.1.10 Edison Model S Electric Cap Lamp.  This cap lamp was used by William J. Fritz while working as a Concreter and Timberman in the #3 and #4 underground mines at Cornwall, Lebanon, PA.  (View in Collections portal)
Black and white photo of two miners underground, both wearing safety helmets with lamps, one standing on a coal car
Men working in Cornwall Mine, 1946.  (Photo from the Charlie Neal research collection, Cornwall Iron Furnace.) 
Over the years MSA Inc.’s product offerings grew to include all types of personal safety items, such as pocket-sized first aid kits.

Small box marked "MSA First Aid Packet," 2 cylindrical containers, and 4 Curad brand bandaids
CF2108.1.6A-G MSA First Aid Packet. In addition to PPE MSA also produced this first aid kit which includes Merthiolate tincture, mercury-containing antiseptic, now banned in over-the-counter products by the FDA. (View in Collections portal)
Effective check-in and check-out systems are also cornerstones of mine safety. At Cornwall Mine, as with other mines, each miner was assigned two brass tags with an individual identification number. The miner would leave their tag on the tagboard before entering the mine, and then remove it once they returned to the surface. This was an important way to ensure that every worker was accounted for.
two round brass disks, about 3/4 inch in diameter, both have the number 3942 stamped in them as identification for the miner
CF2018.1.21A-B Brass Check Tag 3942, William Fritz. These tags were used by William Fritz. According to another Cornwall Mineworker, the brass tags could also be used to sign out equipment and collect paychecks.
Personal safety and the use of personal protective equipment while on the job is a priority, regardless of the industry. Current shortages in PPE for medical professionals are a real problem in many states. Sadly, none of the PPE in the Cornwall Iron Furnace collection qualify as PPE for medical professionals under CDC guidelines, but we are pulling together some of our curatorial PPE, which does qualify, to donate to state agencies that are currently in need.

What can you do to help?

Week 3 (I Think)

For information on PHMC's response to COVID-19, please see the April program page, which also has links to Trails of History sites' Facebook pages. The March program page has link to Trails of History websites.

PHMC logo in a circle with other colored circles randomly placed. Text reads: Pennsylvania History, a click away. #LearnInPlacePA

So this is week 3 of PHMC's Trails of History sites being closed to the public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. I hope this finds all our Trailheads readers doing well, safely at home if at all possible. I know I speak for all of us when I say "thank you" to those who are not able to stay home.
Our March 27 post. "A Glimpse Into Our Collections," featured early 20th-century badminton and croquet equipment in the collection at Hope Lodge. Earlier this week, we added an embedded Facebook post from Hope Lodge with photos of the site during the same time period. Worth checking out and/or revisiting.

On March 20, "The New Normal (for Now)," provided a preliminary look at how Trails of History sites were responding on social media (not to mention images of my home "office" location, which has migrated now). Below are a few examples of what's developed in the past week or so (check the April program page for a list of Trails of History sites with links to their Facebook pages.)

Ephrata Cloister posted about its well-known fraktur alphabet, included a downloadable frame, and invited readers to do their own sketch and submit it for an online exhibit.

Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara and the Flagship Niagara League, following up on their Maritime Art Challenge, launched (ahem) a Lego boat building challenge.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania posted a 5-minute video that includes photos documenting the history of the museum as well as glimpses of the newest exhibits and additions.

Old Economy Village posted a link to their cellphone tour so that visitors can enjoy a virtual ramble around the site (they have also posted a call for volunteers to help with a data entry project and footage of early-to-mid 20th-century reunions of descendants of workers and members of the community - great for students of Harmonist history or 20th-century fashions).

Joseph Priestley House posted about JoAnne Stubbe, winner of the 2020 Priestley Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the American Chemical Society (the photo shows Stubbe receiving the 2008 National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama).

And Drake Well Museum and Park has morphed their 2020 Lecture Series onto Facebook, so viewers can enjoy their favorite beverages and snacks while they learn about a variety of interesting topics.