History in Many Forms

History in Many Forms Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (still mostly virtual). The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen offer an array of online content generated by Trails of History sites.

Purple milk thistle flower with spiky leaves against a background of green
Milk thistle from Pennsbury Manor's garden posted for National Pollinator Week (photo via Pennsbury Facebook page)

History is all around us. People talk about it all the time, sometimes heatedly. It shapes who we are today, as individuals and as a society. And there are lots of ways to learn and encounter new information, no matter your age. A number of items came across my screen recently that I'd like to share for those of you out there who may want to engage with the past.

Obviously, an in-person visit to one of our Trails of History sites is a great way to explore (find the list of all on PHMC's website). And sure, other museums besides PHMC's can be a good thing too (PA Museums has a good online directory). But as we've learned over the past year, virtual history offerings can expand your access to stories and places that you can't visit in person.

Starting in December 2020, PHMC's Virtual Collections Showcase has brought a monthly exploration of a central theme through objects and images from a selection of Trails of History sites. I'm always impressed with the variety of stories site staff convey through these objects and fascinated by their different interpretations of each theme. If you're curious about the breadth and depth of PHMC's collections and the expertise of our staff, the showcase programs, I highly recommend the showcase programs. Our next event is July 20 at 7 pm with a theme of travel and destinations (watch this space for the Zoom link when it's available). We record each program, so you can check out the Collections Showcase playlist (with edited captions) on PHMC's YouTube channel.

Graphic of a steam locomotive with silhouettes of children on either side. Text reads "Barons and Builders Summer Day Camp"
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has two virtual day camps coming up in July and August designed for children ages 9 to 12. Campers will experience virtual tours of historic railroad equipment, participate in activities with instructors online and at home, engage in live discussions and interactions with railroad professionals, and collaborate with each other to solve challenges. Each camp will have three one-hour sessions, scheduled for Tuesday mornings at 10 am. The cost is $75 per camper; sessions will be offered via Zoom with activity kits sent to each camper's address. "Barons and Builders" camp will take place July 13, 20, and 27 (Barons & Builders registration link) and "Behind the Scenes of Railroading" camp is set for August 3, 10, and 17 (Behind the Scenes registration link).

I missed the first week of this, but there's still time to sign your family up for Bushy Run Battlefield's Summer History Club. Club participants will pick up a themed activity box at the site to enjoy at home and will receive a link for a YouTube video centered around that week's theme and activities. Upcoming dates are July 10, July 24, and August 7. The cost is $5 per session; pre-registration and payment are required. For more information and a registration form, visit Bushy Run's Summer History Club page.

When the Pennsylvania Military Museum updated the website this spring, they archived their blog posts and organized them according to topic. You can access posts by conflict/time period, as well as themes of arms and weaponry, Medal of Honor, innovation and interest, leadership and strategy, and women's history. The posts cover a wide range of stories, and many focus on artifacts in the museum's collection. You'll find the blog archive on PMM's website.

1890s photo taken in a PA logging camp, men in suspenders seated and standing, there are two women standing on the left side of the group, one man in front row is African American
Photo of unidentified lumber camp, possibly near Corbett, Potter County, PA, 1890s (photo from PA Lumber Museum collection, LM2019.4.1)

The Lumber Heritage Region of Pennsylvania (LHR) recently released a draft report on research into diversity in the lumber industry, forestry, and communities in the region. PHMC's Pennsylvania Lumber Museum is an important venue in the region for sharing history and culture with visitors and residents. Research focused particularly on uncovering documentation of the roles and work of women and people of color. I'm still working through the report and am finding it quite interesting. It's available on LHR's website.

Next month, the State Library of Pennsylvania will launch a new lunchtime program series in collaboration with PHMC. Each "PA History: Read It, See It" program will feature a virtual visit to a Trails of History site along with suggestions for related books available from public libraries and/or examples of rare and historic books from the vaults of the State Library's Rare Collections Library. Sessions will be offered free of charge via Zoom on the third Thursday of each month from noon to 1 pm. First up is Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum on Thursday, July 15, at noon (State Library link to register).

Ready for Summer

A Slow Walk on the Wild Side Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (still mostly virtual). The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen have other online offerings that you may find interesting.
A gravel path cuts through green grass and crosses a small wooden bridge. A two-story wooden building is in the background, surrounded by trees.
The Weaver's House (left) and God's Acre (cemetery at right) at Ephrata Cloister (photo via EC Facebook page)

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) recently announced the recipients of this year's Leadership in History Awards. Ephrata Cloister was one of 38 history organizations from across the U.S. honored for their work in 2020. Last fall, in the face of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, Ephrata reimagined their long-standing holiday programs--some of them offered for more than 40 years--and recreated them for online audiences. The result was three virtual programs: "Candlelight Chat," a Facebook Live first person conversation with Ephrata Householder Michael Miller (you can watch it on YouTube); a 40-minute version of "Christmas at the Cloister" with photo collage of the Cloister and previously recorded music by the Ephrata Cloister Chorus, presented via Zoom and YouTube; and "Witness to History," a 40-minute film featuring Ephrata's Student Historians telling the story of Ephrata Cloister's role as a hospital in 1777-78, also shown via Zoom and YouTube. I'll also note that Ephrata has also offered numerous lectures as part of the Ephrata Virtual Academy series and adapted their popular Winter History Class to the Zoom platform. Congratulations to all involved on this well-deserved award.


Tomorrow, June 19, is Juneteenth, marking the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, TX, learned that they were, in fact, free (information that had been kept from them by slaveholders). First celebrated the following year in Texas, Juneteenth has become a much more widespread holiday. It was declared a state holiday in Pennsylvania in 2019, and as I write this, President Biden is signing legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Many communities around the state will be celebrating Juneteenth tomorrow and organizations will be offering educational programs that help to put Juneteenth, slavery, and the ongoing struggle for racial equity into historical context. Here are some online resources you may find useful:

Weekly Wildlife Report

Doe and fawn stand on grassy area. A pickup truck, parking lot, and stairs are in the background.
The lawn mower barely distracted this duo enjoying the grass at Brandywine Battlefield Park (photo by Ken Levin)

A Slow Walk on the Wild Side

A Slow Walk on the Wild Side Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (still mostly virtual). The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen have other online offerings that you may find interesting.

Box turtle in the grass with parts of brown Gothic-style stone building in the background
Box turtle on the grounds of Cornwall Iron Furnace (photo via CIF Facebook)
Close-up of box turtle in the grass with clover and yellow flowers
Close-up of different (I think) box turtle at Pennsbury Manor (photo via PM Facebook)

Today's post is inspired by the box turtle posts I saw from two different Trails of History sites and by the continuing string of lovely photos that other sites have shared. I haven't visited any of our sites in person in more than a year, so the virtual beauty is very important. I hope you'll enjoy it too. Of course, you can also visit in person this weekend (and I'm planning to do so soon). Please be sure to check site schedules on websites or social media to be sure that they'll be open when you plan to visit (always my advice, even pre-Covid).

Old Economy Village's gardens are bursting with color, with flowers and herbs spread throughout the site.

Drake Well Museum and Park's #WildlifeWednesday post this week featured a Swallowtail butterfly that stopped by for a visit. (Learn more about butterflies today with The State Museum of PA - see listing below.)

For #ThrowbackThursday, Cornwall Iron Furnace shared a lovely ca. 1900 view of agricultural workers harvesting grain on one of the surrounding farms.

Upcoming Events

Program graphic for What's in a Theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase - historic images of mine disasters and photo of gunpowder box
Today, June 11
  • Learn at Lunchtime (online), Betsy Leppo will talk about native PA butterflies and moths, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm (SMP Zoom link to register)
Wednesday, June 16
  • What's in a Theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase (online), this month's theme is Infamous People and Events, 7-8 pm (Facebook link to register)
  • History Speaks series (online), "The Paxton Boys and Conestoga Massacre," Bushy Run Battlefield, tickets are $7.50, 7-8 pm (Eventbrite link to register)
Friday, June 18
  • Learn at Lunchtime, learn about Harrisburg's November 1865 Grand Review honoring African American Civil War veterans, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 (registration link)
  • Father's Day Weekend (onsite), free admission for dads 6/18-20, Bushy Run Battlefield (see BRB Facebook for details)

Enjoy Your Weekend

A relaxing setting at Drake Well Museum and Park with creek to the left, green grass, and trees on a sunny day
This is what puts the "park" in Drake Well Museum and Park (photo via DW Facebook page)

Taking a quick break from posting this week. If you're planning to visit the Trails of History, please check with your destination (via website or social media) to confirm hours of operation and other info. Information on safety protocols can be found on PHMC's Welcome Back page.

The PHMC Events Calendar has listings for upcoming events, still mostly online.

The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen have a bunch of online offerings for you to explore.

I hope your weekend brings whatever you need it to bring - rest or activity, quiet or hubbub (hubbub?) - and I'll see you back here next Friday.