Historical Societies: News and Highlights

Historical Societies: News and Highlights presents news and information about Pennsylvania's regional and county historical societies.

Mountain Craft Days Planned

In southwestern Pennsylvania’s sce­nic Laurel Highlands, mid-September traditionally initiates a round of special observances commemorating this mountain-ringed area’s colorful past. Part of this year’s celebrations will include the 9th Annual Mountain Craft Days staged September 7-9 al the Somerset Historical Center.

Over eighty crafts people, attired in colorful period costumes, will be presenting continuous demonstrations of their crafts and skills. Along a wooded walking path, visitors will watch the blacksmith, shingle maker, woodcarver, pewterer, broom maker and tinsmith at work. The traditional making of maple sugar and “spota,” spinning, flax scutching, weaving, yam dyeing, chair caning, needle­-working, quilting and brewing of homemade herb teas and remedies will be demonstrated. The gunsmith, potter, leather craftsman, butcher and soap maker will also be there. Many of the products of these artisans will be available for purchase as will various regional foods, from freshly boiled apple butter to funnel-cakes and “fasnachts.”

On September 8 and 9, Capt. James Ross’ Company of Thompson’s Bat­talion of riflemen will present a pro­gram of military pageantry including precision drills. The riflemen will be available to explain their weapons and authentic costumes to visitors and mock battles with the “British Red Coats will add to this living history program.

The Somerset Historical Center is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission which is jointly sponsoring Mountain Craft Days with the Somerset Histor­ical Society. The center’s facilities, consisting of a museum which will house the interpretive exhibits, an 1804 log house and a sugar camp. are located along U.S. Routes 219 and 601, four miles north of Somerset and will be open to the public during the program. All activities are scheduled from 10 A.M. to 5 P .M. on Friday and Saturday, and from 12 to 5 PM. Sun­day. Admission is $1.5O – children under 12 and senior citizens over 65, free.


A Correction

In the Spring issue of Pennsylvania Heritage, an article appeared on page 31 listing the recipients of the AASLH’s annual awards. One individual and four historical organizations from the Commonwealth were honored for their achievements. However. an error appeared in our announcement. Mr. Donald Hayes, credited with an Award of Merit, in fact received a Certificate of Commendation for his preservation work in Union County. The Award of Merit was actually presented to the Pennsylvania German Society for publication of the outstanding and widely acclaimed two-volume work, The Pennsylvania Fraktur of the Free library of Philadelphia. These beautifully illustrated books, compiled by society members Frederick S. Weiser and Howell J. Henry. preserve and interpret one of the most valuable existing collections of Pennsylvania folk art.

Our congratulations again to the award recipients and our apologies for the error.


Oral History Conference Held

A diverse audience of historical society personnel, college and high school teachers, preservationists, his­torians, librarians and social service professionals gathered at West Chester State College, Saturday, March 17, for Pennsylvania’s first Community Oral History Conference. Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies, the Pennsylvania Labor History Society, and Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region, the work­shops were jammed with 250 practi­tioners of oral history who sought in­formation on projects in urban neigh­borhoods, within the working class, and in rural townships and small towns in the eastern United States. Notable speakers included Kathy Kahn. author of Hillbilly Women; Cullom Davis, author of From Tape to Type: An Oral History Guide and Workbook; Ron Grele, author of Envelopes of Sound: Six Practitioners Talk About Oral History; Alice Hoffman, past president of the national Oral History Association; Louise Hutchinson. Re­search Director from the Anacostia Neighborhood Association; and Ber­nard Bellush, historian of Local 37, AFSCME. In addition to their presen­tations, the highly acclaimed historical documentary on the organizing days of the United Auto Workers, “With Babies and Banners: The Story of the Women’s Emergency Brigade,” and an in-depth slide show on rural tradi­tions were shown and heavily attended.

Planning for the next Community Oral History Conference scheduled to be held in western Pennsylvania in November 1979 began in late April. Questions regarding the conference should be directed to Carl Oblinger, coordinator of the Oral History Conferences and oral historian for the PHMC, at Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120.


Historical Society Notes

The Public Committee for the Humanities in Pennsylvania funds community programs in the following areas: humanities and contemporary issues, media programs, special pro­grams, fellowship programs, and plan­ning grants. Upcoming deadlines are as follows: humanities and contemporary issues, media and special programs (Dec. 15, 1979); fellowship programs (Apr. 7, 1980); and planning grants (no deadline). The address for the Public Committee for the Humanities in Pennsylvania is Room 818, 401 North Broad St., Philadelphia 19108.

A unique method of raising funds was employed last fall by the Wyom­ing Historical and Geological Society­ – “An Old-fashioned Auction.” Society members were asked to donate items such as stamps, baskets, antiques, glassware, china, books, jugs, pictures and even mining items. When a pro­fessional auctioneer donated his ser­vices, the event was assured of success.

Mr. William Porter has relinquished the presidency of the Westmoreland County Historical Society after a num­ber of years of dedicated service and has now been designated president­-emeritus. The new president is Edward Nowlin.

The American Association for State and Local History reports that in 1978 the Institute for Museum Services awarded grants for opera ting support to 72 organizations out of an applicant pool or 287. Interestingly, small muse­ums – the type most frequently oper­ated by historical societies – did not fair as well as larger museums. IMS funded 19 percent of the grant pro­posals from museums with budgets under $15 thousand and 67 percent of the proposals received from muse­ums with budgets over $3 million.

A regional workshop of the Penn­sylvania Federation of Historical Soci­eties will be held on September 15, 1979 at the Clarion County Historical Society in Clarion. Program details should be ready for circulation by August 1.

The 1900 United States Census Catalog is now available from the National Archives and Records Service, General Service Administration, Wash­ington, DC 20408. Individual reels of microfilm for particular counties and cities are available for purchase.

In order to attract new members and better inform local citizens about its activities, the Lehigh County His­torical Society has established a speak­ers bureau. Service clubs anti groups in the county have been informed of the willingness of society board members or volunteers to speak at their meet­ings.

The Historical Society of York County has developed a fascinating slide/cassette program on the life and work of Lewis Miller. Written and produced by Ms. Ellen Sammon, the presentation depicts the drawings and watercolors of Miller, a nineteenth­-century folk artist, artisan and native of York.

The National Museum Act of 1966 allows the Smithsonian Institute to assist other museums by making grants in three areas: training for museum personnel, special studies and research projects, and professional and techni­cal assistance projects. Information can be obtained from the National Museum Act, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC 20560.

Mr. Noah G. Good, a staff member of the Lancaster Mennonite Confer­ence Historical Society and former German teacher, will provide German script translation services at a cost of $6 per hour. He can be contacted at the society, 2215 Millstream Road, Lancaster 17602.

The Beaver Valley Labor History Society, one of the newest historical societies to be incorporated in the state. has recently begun publication of a labor history journal. For infor­mation on the society or the journal, write the Beaver Valley Labor History Society, Box 309, Aliquippa 15001.

A report on the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Federation of Histor­ical Societies held on May 5 will appear in the Fall issue of Heritage.