Celebrating Women's History and More

A man in a blue suit, a woman in a light gray skirt and jacket, and a woman in blue pants and blue sleeveless top stand next to a blue and gold historical marker on a tall blue pole.
From left: William Lewis, Evelyn Kegerise, and Elizabeth Bertheaud (photos courtesy Ephrata Cloister)

This past Saturday, May 14, a new state historical marker was unveiled on the grounds of Ephrata Cloister, one of our PHMC Trails of History sites. The marker, "Ephrata's Women Composers," honors Sisters Foben, Katura, and Hanna, members of the celibate sisterhood at Ephrata in the 1700s. Several years ago, while doing research on hymns written at Ephrata, music historian Christopher Herbert noticed these three women among the attributions for hymn composition. Further research has so far failed to turn up any earlier American female composers, so the marker recognizes Foben, Katura, and Hanna as the earliest known American women to be credited with musical compositions. The celibate community at Ephrata is quite well known for its music, so this is an important addition to the site's history as well as to the larger history of American music.

Members of the Ephrata Cloister Chorus are seated under a pop-up tent in the traditional white garb they wear for performances.
Craig Benner snapped this shot of members of the Chorus ready to perform during the marker dedication

Representing PHMC at the marker ceremony was Commissioner William Lewis, along with site administrator Elizabeth Bertheaud, and Evelyn Kegerise, who was a member of the Ephrata Cloister Chorus when it first formed as a program to perform the historic music of the celibate brothers and sisters. She was also a guide at the site for many years, sharing Ephrata history with countless visitors and training others to do the same. As part of the marker unveiling the Chorus performed two hymns written by Sister Foben and later in the afternoon performed a concert in the Saal, the Sisters' meetinghouse. To learn more about the history behind the marker, check out this Ephrata Cloister Facebook post or this NPR interview with Dr. Herbert that includes music recorded in the Saal.

Women's history will be a focus at Graeme Park this weekend, as the site celebrates the 300th birthday of the Keith House, built in 1722 for colonial governor Sir William Keith. Governor Keith's step-daughter Ann had married Dr. Thomas Graeme in 1719. Their daughter Elizabeth became well-known as a poet and intellectual in Philadelphia and her life is part of the historical narrative at Graeme Park. Tomorrow, May 21, will be a day of family fun, music, food, and history. See listing below for more info.

Speaking of historical markers, the deadline for nominating new markers is coming up on June 1. The submission process is entirely online now via the PA-SHARE portal (nomination instructions and links). To see if there is an existing marker on your topic of interest, check the list of approved markers (these haven't been placed yet) or the searchable database of existing markers.

The PHMC and Historical Records Advisory Board are now accepting applications for the Historical & Archival Records Care program; the deadline for submissions is August 1. On June 1 and June 21, PA State Archives staff will present a webinar explaining grant eligibility requirements and the web-based application process. They will also provide tips for developing competitive grant proposals. To register, check the Records Care Grants page on PHMC's website.

A quick note before the list of upcoming events: due to some utility work happening in the visitor center, Bushy Run Battlefield will not be open this weekend. They plan to reopen as scheduled on Wednesday, May 24. 

Chives growing in the garden at Pennsbury. The long thin green shoots are topped by spiky purple flowers.
Explore the gardens at Pennsbury Manor this Sunday; info is below (photo via Pennsbury's Facebook page)

Up Next

Today, May 20

  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual), 12:15-12:45 pm, The State Museum of PA
    • Dr. Walter Meshaka, senior curator of zoology and botany, will talk about native and exotic species of paper wasps found in downtown Harrisburg, The program is free; please register to receive the Zoom link (Learn at Lunchtime registration).

Saturday, May 21

  • Oil Creek 5 & 13 Stacked Trail Races (in-person), 7 am-?, Drake Well Museum & Park
  • William Chester Ruth Living History Tour (in-person) 9:30 am-3 pm, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
    • Learn about the life of inventor William Chester Ruth through this living history tour featuring Keith Henley as Mr. Ruth and Tim Essig as Henry Landis. Tour times are 9:30, 12:30 and 3. Reservations are required and are available on-line (Living History Tour info and tickets).
  • 300th Birthday Celebration (in-person), 10 am-6 pm, Graeme Park
    • 2022 marks the 300th birthday of the Keith House at Graeme Park. A day full of family-friendly activities, food, and entertainment await. Cost is $10 per car (Birthday details).
  • StoryTime (in-person), 10:30-11:30 am, The State Museum of Pennsylvania
    • Read "Birds" by Kevin Henkes, learn about the world of birds, and participate in a painting activity. For kids age 2 to pre-K and included in regular admission (StoryTime details).

Sunday, May 22

  • Trails of History Run (in-person), 7:30 am-?, Daniel Boone Homestead
  • A Celebration of Service: Honoring Pennsylvania Veterans (in-person), 12:30-3:30 pm, Pennsylvania Military Museum
    • U.S. Army reunion and memorial service sponsored by the PA National Guard commemorating the Pennsylvania Citizen Soldier with a military concert and equipment displays. Ceremony begins at 12:30 pm (Celebration of Service info).
  • Beer Brewing & Garden Highlights (in-person), 1-4 pm, Pennsbury Manor
    • Explore recipes and plants that fed the early residents of Pennsbury. Included in regular admission (Beer & Garden info).

Thursday, May 26

  • histERIE Week Event, 5:30-7:30 pm, Erie Maritime Museum
    • The museum will be open free of charge and will spotlight a historic fife recently placed on display. Tradition holds that the fife was played at the onset of the Battle of Lake Erie by Rev War veteran Cyrus Tiffany, a free Black man serving with Oliver Hazard Perry. Curatorial research assistant Linda Bolla will be on hand to talk with visitors about the fife and Tiffany's life (EMM info)

Advance Tickets or Registrations

  • Sensory Hours (in-person), Tuesday, May 31, 3-5 pm, Railroad Museum of PA
    • Light, noise, and crowd levels will be reduced, and their will be some quiet areas if you need a break from the action. Several historic trains will be open, with staff on hand to answer questions. Advance tickets ($7) required (Sensory Hours info and tickets).
  • Ales & Petals/Cars & Motorcycles of Englad Car Show, Saturday, June 4, 10 am-4 pm, Hope Lodge
    • Family fun includes food (for purchase), classic British cars and motorcycles, and live music. Those age 21+ with photo ID can also enjoy craft beer from Round Guys Brewing (for purchase). Admission for age 13 and up is $10 per person; tickets available in advance (Event info and tickets).
  • Agnes and the Demise of the Cornwall Iron Mines (virtual), Tuesday, June 7, 7-8 pm, Cornwall Iron Furnace
    • Mike Weber will talk about the history of the Cornwall Iron Mines, leading up to the damage from Tropical Storm Agnes that eventually caused the mines to close in 1973. The program is free; please register to receive the link (Cornwall Iron Mines info and registration).
  • Sensory Friendly Visit (in-person), Wednesday, June 8, 10 am-3 pm, and Sunday, June 19, 10 am-noon, PA Military Museum
    • Sound effects in the gallery will be turned off, and the volume on the orientation video will be lowered (captions always enabled). Please register in advance for a time slot; you can pay when you arrive (Sensory visit info and tickets).
  • Fabric and Fiber in PA's Forests (virtual), Thursday, June 9, 7-8 pm, PA Lumber Museum
    • Museum staff Josh Roth and Josh Fox will highlight fabric and clothing items in the collection, along with selected images from the photographic archive. The program is free and offered in partnership with the Galeton Worldwide Knitting in Public knitters and fiber artists (Fabric and Fiber info and registration).
  • Log Birling Clinic (in-person), Saturday, June 11, 1-3 pm, PA Lumber Museum
    • Join museum staff to learn how to stay on top of a rolling log while your opponent falls off. Registration is required (Clinic info and registration).
  • Drake Well Marathon and Half (in-person and virtual), Sunday, August 14, 7 am-?, Drake Well Museum & Park

Summer Camps on the Trails of History (in-person and virtual)

  • Pennsylvania Lumber Museum


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