Junior Historians Hold Viable Meeting

News presents briefs about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania.

Questioning a six-year-old recently about her interest in American Indians, one feels that her innocent beliefs are also good, “unschooled” guides as to how to plan the Annual State Convention. As children do when they get together, the annual convention should provide opportunities for Junior Historians to exchange information on their endeavors, and guidance for students to form concrete ideas for future activities.

At stake, of course, is the growth of the Pennsylvania Federation of Junior Historians, at least as an idea which attracts alert, energetic, and active students to the program. The Pennsylvania Department of Education is moving in this area by encouraging secondary students to study history in an interdisciplinary perspective, thus encouraging them to see new relationships with historical materials.

For these reasons the Junior Historians were exposed to a wide range of activities at the Thirty-third Annual State Convention held in Pittsburgh at Chatham Center, April 17, 18 and 19 [1975]. The twenty-one exhibits and demonstrations, prepared for the First Annual History Exposition, explored the relationships between man’s skills and creativity, and his environment. Some of the most impressive projects were the Burgettstown Area High School Chapter’s restoration of a large floor loom they had discovered at Meadowcroft Village; the Quemahoning Chapter’s (North Star High School, Bos­well) demonstration of how to play a dulcimer and a display of other mountain musical instruments; the Conewago Chapter’s (Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster County) project which explored the impact of tourism on the Stras­burg Railroad; the Lancaster Catholics’ Chapter display of their impressive video-tape on the architecturally significant points of colonial Lancaster City, the oldest in land city in the United States; Ephrata Cloister’s Junior Historians’ proj­ect on the booklet they published; and the Centerville Junior High School’s (Lancaster) project, “Paper Leaves at Locust Grove,” which showed the chapter’s involvement in restoring the Haldeman Mansion.

Instead of insisting on homogeneity this year, the con­vention committee also offered delegates some impressive options. On Friday afternoon and evening, for example, the students could tour Old Economy Village, the site of the successful nineteenth-century communitarian venture of the Harmony Society in Beaver County, followed by a boat ride down the Ohio River to Pittsburgh from Baden, or they could choose an evening at the theatre. Those students who chose to see Archibald Macleish’s World Premier, “The Great American Fourth of July Parade” at the Carnegie Music Hall saw an inspired performance which received a lengthy standing ovation. The play, seen through the persons of Adams and Jefferson, raised some fundamental questions concerning our nation’s greatness, and mused aloud on our need to affirm a commitment to freedom.

The final activity was the election of student officers. Those students elected as senior state officers this year­Sue Martin, Delaware Valley High School, Milford; Harry Barbour, Lakeview High School, Stoneboro; David Pusateri, Burgettstown Area High School; and John Zavinski, of Warren Area High School – showed a critical, yet constructive, concern with the PFJH’s program and especially with the workings of the governing body, the Advisory Council.

Donald Crownover of Centerville Junior High School, Lancaster County, and chairman of the Pennsylvania Dutch Region, received the Pennsylvania Trophy. The trophy is awarded to the region bringing in the greatest number of new chapters by April 1 [1975]. Co-coordinators are Mrs. Fay Kramer of Millersville and Mrs. Shirley Bish off of the Ephrata Cloister staff. Crownover also received an award for dedicated service.


Carl Oblinger is an associate historian for the PHMC and executive secre­tary of the PFJH.