Powwowing: Ritual Healing in Pennsylvania Dutch Country

It was just after dark when the powwow doctor arrived at the elderly woman’s home in Lebanon County. The woman had been suffering from swelling in her legs that made walking difficult. Regular medical treatment had proven to be unsuccessful, so after enduring several months of painful discomfort, she called a powwower on the advice of a friend. Tonight would be the third successive...
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Ask A Curator Day

Sarah Buffington was quick with her response. The longtime curator at Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Beaver County, had expected the question and she was ready. “Probably a static electricity machine,” she said. “The communal Harmony Society had a science museum, which we’ve recreated. They tried to make electricity in the 1820s and ’30s. It didn’t work...
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Free-Thinking, 19th-Century Style

Francis Ellingwood Abbot (1836–1903) was nothing if not determined. In 1872, as editor of The Index, the nation’s leading free-thought magazine, he began to muster the full force of his small army of subscribers against what was being called “the God-in-the-Constitution amendment.” A philosopher and theologian, he sought to reconstruct theology in accordance with scientific methodology. From the...
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Currents

Grand Manner Born in Nescopeck, Luzerne County, Peter Frederick Rothermel (1812-1895) was once one of the most celebrated his­tory painters in the United States (see “Painting for Peer, Patron, and the Public” by Kent Ahrens in the spring 1992 edition of Pennsylvania Heritage). Neglected for decades, he is at last being celebrated in a major exhibition, “Painting in the Grand...
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Currents

Wrecks and Rescues In the early nineteenth century, the shore posed great danger to sailing ships seeking to reach port. The long and lonely approaches to coastal cities, such as Philadelphia, were poorly marked stretches of sand dunes and salt marshes with a few isolated settlements. Unexpected storms with winds blowing from the northeast could suddenly force a ship onto perilous sandbars...
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Currents

Amish Arts A comprehensive-and colorful-sur­vey of the distinctive decorative arts cre­ated by and for the Amish of Lancaster County is on view at the Heritage Center Museum of Lancaster County. About two hundred objects made during a period of two hundred years, from 1790 to 1990, are showcased in “Amish Arts of Lancaster County,” on view through Saturday, Janu­ary 2, 1999. Included...
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Currents

Xanthus Smith It is Sunday, March 9, 1862. Smoke hangs thick in the air. The water is littered with debris. The air even tastes bitter. Cannon roar. Cries of men pierce the din. Ironclad titans, the vessels Monitor and the Merrimac, clash in one of the fiercest confrontations of the Civil War. This is the Battle of Hampton Roads. Today, museum-goers are able to revis­it the Battle of Hampton...
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Bookshelf

Connie Mack’s ’29 Triumph: The Rise and Fall of the Philadelphia Athletics Dynasty by William C. Kashatus McFarland & Company, Inc., 1999 (216 pages, cloth, $28.50) To baseball historians, Connie Mack (1862-1956) is a star among managers. His professionalism, penetrating knowledge of the game, and ability to handle his players helped him claim nine pennants, win five World...
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Shorts

The Internet Unplugged: The World-Wide Moravian Network, 1732-1858, an exhibit chronicling Moravian Church communi­cation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, has been recently unveiled by the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth. The exhibit, which runs through Sunday, October 21 [2001], surveys the ways in which Moravians kept abreast of developments, as well as exchanged ideas and...
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Currents

Both Sides Now A decade in the making, Harrisburg’s newly opened National Civil War Museum boasts nearly thirty thousand square feet of exhibition space. Situated high atop a knoll in a city park, with a commanding view of the capital city below, the museum – described by the re­gion’s press as “a world-class museum for a world-class collection” – is the first...
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