Bookshelf provides descriptions and notices of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects.

Our Priceless Heritage: Pennsylvania State Parks, 1893-1993

by Dan Cupper
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1993 (70 pages, paper, $12.95)

“Priceless” is a word that best defines the Keystone State’s natural history, and Our Priceless Heritage: Pennsylvania State Parks, 1893-1993, is a copiously illustrat­ed book that chronicles the origin and development of the Commonwealth’s system of state parks. The history of state parks in Pennsylvania can be traced, to some degree, to the foresight and vision of two unusual individuals: Joseph T. Rothrock (1839-1922), first state commissioner of forestry, and Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946), chief of the U.S. Division of Forestry from 1898 to 1910, and governor from 1923 to 1927 and again from 1931 to 1935. Our Priceless Heritage explains how the development of a system of state forests, followed by state parks, was part of a national trend. By the early 1920s, twenty-nine of the then forty-eight states still had no state parks; even populous states such as Pennsylvania, California, Michigan, and New Jersey claimed only a few. New Deal conservation programs of the following decade improved some parks and built recreational areas that eventu­ally became state parks. Pennsylvania’s greatest era of state park expansion occurred during the late 1950s and throughout the sixties, when the visionary Maurice K. Goddard set a goal to build a state park within twenty-five miles of every Pennsylvanian! As Secretary of the Department of Forests and Waters, and later as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Resources (DER), Goddard fought vigorously for the bond issues that provided funding to fuel the movement. Today, Pennsylvania’s state parks system encompasses more than one hundred sites and nearly three hundred thousand acres. Other statistics are just as staggering – for example, more than thirty-seven million people visit one (or more) of these parks to picnic, hike, boat, swim, fish, ski, or camp each year. The first state park – ­although not given that official designation – was Valley Forge, the site of General George Washington’s legendary Revolutionary War encampment during the winter of 1777-1778 (see “Valley Forge: Commemorating the Centennial of a National Symbol” by Lorett Treese in the spring 1993 edition and “The Apotheosis of George Washington: America’s Cincinnatus and the Valley Forge Encampment” by William C. Kashatus III the winter 1994 issue). The second park, which in no way bore any resemblance to Valley Forge, was the brainchild of Rothrock, a native of McVeytown, Mifflin County, who was instrumental in founding the Pennsylvania Forestry Association. He made telling photographs of the Commonwealth’s logged-out and barren wilderness and lectured widely on the need for reforestation and conservation. He persuaded the state to establish a commission of forestry, which by 1901 had become a department. At the same time he was appointed Pennsylvania’s first Commissioner of Forestry. Rothrock was also responsible for acquiring a half­-million acres for planting new trees. And the rest is history. The Commonwealth began by acquiring land renowned for its historical significance, but officials soon recognized the public’s growing interest in camping. Perhaps Pinchot is best remembered today for having served two terms as Pennsylvania’s Progressive Republican governor, but he was known nationally as a conservation­ist. He had joined the Pennsylvania Forestry Association in 1887, studied forestry in Europe after graduating from Yale University in 1889, helped establish a forestry school at his alma mater, and later served as one of its professors. He returned to Pennsylvania in 1919 as State Forest Commissioner and organized citizens’ committees two years later to study more than a dozen sites for use as “public recreation centers,” several of which eventually became popular picnic areas and state parks. Throughout Our Priceless Heritage: Pennsylvania State Parks, 1893-1993, readers will meet the various individuals – governors, conservationists, national leaders, and residents and visitors – whose interest in preserving and protecting the Keystone State’s landscape helped build, perhaps unwittingly, one of the nation’s largest and most popular recreational attrac­tions. In fact, Pennsylvania is the thirty-third largest state, but only California and Alaska can boast of owning more public park land! Our Priceless Heritage features numerous vintage photographs of many state parks, which are bound to delight those interested in not only the environment at a given point in time, but the ways in which Pennsylvanians sought refuge in recreation. These photographs are priceless, too. They graphically illustrate Pennsylvania residents at play in what they could – and still can – call their own. In addition to these fascinating illustrations, the book includes brief guest essays by frequent park users, a regional park manager, a chief park ranger, and a retired park foreman. The foreword was written by Arthur A. Davis, former DER secretary.


Old World Amish: Their Enduring Way of Life

by Donald B. Kraybill
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993 (187 pages, cloth, $39.95)

Thoroughly out of place in modern America – yet powerfully reminiscent of the American past – the Old Order Amish inspire both curiosity and admiration. However, Amish life is much different from the quaint and romantic existence often depicted in conventional photography books. With extraordinary color photographs by Lucian Niemeyer and an authoritative text, Old World Amish: Their Enduring Way of Life captures not only the beauty and charm of Amish life but also its richness and complexity. The photographer earned the trust and friendship of Amish families by helping to harvest crops on their farms in Lancaster County, site of one of the oldest Amish settlements in North America. He gained acceptance in a community that draws sharp lines of separation from the outside world and has, by tradition, shunned photography. Encouraged by Amish friends who welcomed the opportunity to correct inaccurate accounts of their way of life, Niemeyer began to assemble this honest and sensitive photographic record. He worked without filters or darkroom manipulations, using only natural light. The results are unprecedented glimpses of families, community gatherings, even the seldomly seen interiors of Amish houses and schools. In the accompanying text, Donald B. Kraybill tells the often surprising story of today’s Old Order Amish. His introduction provides a sweeping overview of Amish life in North America and explains how a traditional people have managed not merely to survive but to flourish in the midst of modern life. In thirty-five vignettes, the author explains the sect’s views on matters ranging from childbirth to “the politics of separation.” His concluding essay examines why modern observers are so drawn to the Amish and their traditional values. Detailing the rigors of hard work, the strength of family and community, the discipline of religion, and the inevitable Amish compromises with modernity, Old Order Amish: Their Enduring Way of Life offers an authentic portrait of the Amish in striking photographs and honest accounts of their daily concerns and time-honored traditions.


Making Arms in the Machine Age: Philadelphia’s Frankford Arsenal, 1816-1870

by James J. Farley
Penn State Press, 1994 (142 pages, cloth, $32.50)

Not long after the War of 1812, the United States Army established several arsenals, including the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia, to build up reserves of arms and ammunition then in short supply. The Army at the time was held in low regard because of its perceived performance in the war, so the creation of these arsenals was not welcomed. By the second half of the nineteenth century, however, the arsenal at Frankford had integrated itself into the community and had become a valued and well-respected institutional member. Making Arms in the Machine Age: Philadelphia’s Frankford Arsenal, 1816-1870, traces the growth and development of this installation over the course of a half-century. During this period, the arsenal evolved from a small post where skilled workers hand-produced small arms ammunition to a full-scale industri­al complex employing a large civilian workforce. The author uses the history of this arsenal to examine larger issues, including the rapidly changing technolo­gy of nineteenth-century warfare, the impact of new technology on the U.S. Army, and the reactions of workers, their families, and their communities to the coming of industrialization. Making Arms in the Machine Age contends that the Army’s Ordnance Department created an industrial system of manufacture at Frankford well in advance of private industry. This book also argues that the evolution of the Army into an employer of thousands of civilians helped to end the isolation and anti-militarism that plagued it after the War of 1812. Making Arms in the Machine Age details a period of great change at the Frankford Arsenal and explores how this technological evolution affected work, workers, and the local communities.