News and Notes

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

On the Cover

This view, looking north-northwest from Tuscarora Mountain near the southern boundary of Juniata County, takes in the heart of the fer­tile Tuscarora Valley and the cresting waves of the Limestone and Her­ringbone ridges beyond. In the distance, the imposing and sheltering Black Log, Shade and Blue Mountains form Juniata County’s northern border. The picturesque valleys wedged in between these ridges con­tinue to provide the agricultural produce which has remained the back­bone of the county’s economy.

This panorama has remained relatively unchanged since the days of early settlement. The Graydon and Pearl Yoder Farm in the left fore­ground, for example, like many others in the county, has remained in the hands of the same family since it was cleared in the early 1800s. De­scendants of the county’s original German and Scotch-Irish immigrants continue to find a sense of security in the plentiful hills which seem to give each farm its own natural seclusion. As throughout the county’s history, the hills of Juniata still exert their timeless influence and per­petuate a kind of idyllic isolation.


Historic Preservation, Fifth Annual Conference

April 7-9, 1983

Program Features:

  • Technical Workshops
  • Preservation Law Updates
  • Bus & Walking Tours
    • Historic Neighborhoods
    • Pittsburgh’s Industries
    • Urban Revitalization

William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh

For information contact: Bureau for Historic Preservation, PHMC, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120


“Commercial” History

With every anniversary celebration comes an opportunity for public history agencies to re-evaluate popular perceptions and appreciation of heritage. One such opportunity for Penn­sylvania has been the commemoration of its 300th Birthday, which began in March 1981. As the lead agency for the cele­bration, the PHMC established the objective that some lasting contribution for the public good be a product of its com­memorative efforts. Traditionally, most states have erected monuments or published elaborate histories. The Commission chose a different path, however, by attempting a television campaign to raise an awareness among Pennsylvanians of the state’s rich heritage.

The Public Resource Development Section of the PHMC set a number of priorities: to cover 300 years of Pennsylvania history; to portray as many geographical areas of the Com­monwealth as possible; to give attention to women and minor­ity history; and to recognize William Penn’s legacy. The gov­erning objective, however, was to be as historically accurate as possible.

What eventually emerged was the concept of treating Penn­sylvania history as an epic 300 years in the making and pre­senting it in the form of a movie “preview.” This format in­volved some dramatic license, comic relief and a concentra­tion of action sequences from historical periods prior to 1870. These earlier years were chosen since they appear more ro­mantic and lend themselves more easily to symbolic explana­tions than late nineteenth- and twentieth-century issues.

The finished product is a sixty-second public service announcement which conveys the exciting, moving, surprising and suspenseful moments of Pennsylvania’s heritage through six vignettes about William Penn, the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary and Civil wars, the discovery of oil and the Underground Railroad. Perhaps the most prophetic reminder of the announcement is that this state’s 300 years have been filled with “men who became heroes and women who became legends.”

What the Commission hopes it will achieve through this new television initiative is a renewed, more vigorous popular interest in history, an increase in museum and historic site visitations, and the development of more sympathetic public attitudes toward historic preservation initiatives and other his­torical pursuits. In short, the PHMC is again attempting to meet its goal of “making sure our past has a future.”


Harmony Project Completed

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission an­nounces the micro-publication of the Records of the Harmony Society, 1786-1951, which reproduces Manuscript Group 185 at the Division of Archives and Manuscripts (State Archives). Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities under a grant of $83,043, the micro-publication, consisting of 311 reels of microfilm and an accompanying finding guide, was completed under the direction of Roland M. Baumann and Robert M. Dructor.

The Harmony Society Records contain one of the best exist­ing documentations of a communal society. Among the 719 volumes and 172 boxes of records microfilmed are minutes, registers, agreements, accounts and correspondence that re­flect the organization and composition of the society, its busi­ness interests and activities, and its inter-relationships with the community at large. While the Harmonists are probably best known for their religious and communistic ventures, almost three-quarters of the collection documents their pioneering ef­forts in trade, railroads, oil production, brick making and many other commercial activities. Alphabetical name listings of correspondents also appear on the.141 rolls of incoming correspondence (1788, 1800-1905).

The 311-reel publication is divided into six major sections: 1) Administrative File, 2) Legal File, 3) Business File, 4) Publication File, 5) General File and 6) Public Records File (tax lists, Justice of the Peace records, etc.). The Business File is organized by the following categories: Letter Books and Correspondence, Account Volumes, Domestic and Handi­craft Industries, Economy Lumber Company, Economy Planing Mill Company, French Point Planing Mill Company, Economy Oil Company, The Union Company, Harmony Brick Works, Liberty Land Company and Accounts (un­bound).

The price for microfilm is $20 per reel; the complete set of 311 costs $6,220, plus postage, insurance and handling, which vary according to the number of rolls ordered. The paperback guide, included in the price of the set, may also be ordered separately for $5.00 (plus 6 % tax and $1 handling). Those de­siring further information on select rolls or wishing to place orders should contact the Division of Archives and Manu­scripts, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120.


Craft Festivals Set for June

Two craft festivals will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5 [1983], at Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Com­mission sites. “Craft Days” will run from noon until 5:00 P.M. at the Pennsylvania Farm Museum of Landis Valley, which co-sponsors the event with the Landis Valley Associates. “Kunstfest,” presented in cooperation with the Harmonie Associates, will take place on the grounds of Old Economy Village, 14th and Church Streets, Ambridge, from 11:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Visitors to Landis Valley, located four miles north of Lan­caster on Route 272, the Oregon Pike, will witness demonstra­tions of more than forty crafts and activities associated with Pennsylvania life from 1750 to 1900, including rug hooking, blacksmithing, egg scratching and leather working. Also open at the Farm Museum for this special event will be the Veterin­ary Office, the Isaac Landis Gallery and the Grossmutter House, areas normally closed to the public.

Nineteenth-century crafts popular with those participating at Old Economy’s “Kunstfest” are coopering, ropemaking, wood carving, candle-dipping and tole painting. Many needle and jewelry arts will also be represented, in addition to wool spinning, weaving, dyeing and basketmaking.

The first weekend in June [1983] will provide visitors at either end of the state with an opportunity to step into the past of crafts.


“Turning Points,” 1983

What do Newton’s law of physics, the French Revolution and a grandfather’s decision to immigrate to the United States all have in common? They are all turning points in history.

“Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events” is the 1983 theme of National History Day, sponsored by the Na­tional Endowment for the Humanities. For the fourth year, secondary school students in Pennsylvania will have an opportunity to participate in this stimulating, expanding educational program which encourages young people to re­search a historical topic related to an annual theme. Indi­viduals or groups then enter historical papers, exhibits, per­formances or media presentations revolving around the theme, at various levels of competition.

The first round of contests will take place at fourteen dif­ferent locations throughout Pennsylvania in March and April, with the statewide contest, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, to be held at Harrisburg on May 13, 1983. Winners will then be eligible to participate at the national level with those from thirty-eight other states and the District of Columbia at the University of Maryland, College Park, in June [1983].

Secondary school teachers are advised to inform students of this opportunity and encourage their participation. Certifi­cates and awards recognize all entrants. To find the location and time of the district contest nearest you and to receive teacher/student guidebooks and entry forms, please send an inquiry to Donna Munger, PHMC, Division of History, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120.


Museum Beat

Museums often find their most valued “new” accessions in dusty attics and damp cellars, frequently their own. This point was brought home most graphically this past spring while a reorganization of the storage areas at Tuscarora Academy was being completed. The building is the property of the PHMC, but the collections are totally those of the Juniata County Historical Society.

In one room which housed used exhibit materials, a drum shell was discovered, together with broken hoops, heads, rop­ing and drumstick. The body of the drum was intact, the shell of which displayed evidence of an American eagle whose circa-1835 painted outlines were visible within a panel on the drum’s exterior. Further research on the part of the donor established that the drum originally came from the Crawford family, a family active in the military history of both Pennsyl­vania and the U.S. for the past two centuries. In all proba­bility, the drum dates back to a militia unit in the Juniata-Mif­flin County area during the pre-Civil War days.

Realizing the importance of the find, the Juniata County Historical Society contacted a conservator, Mr. William Reamer of Broomall, heir to a drum manufacturing concern begun during the Civil War, who had just completed the resto­ration of the drum collection at the William Penn Memorial Museum. The old hoops were too damaged to be remounted, so new hoops were made using the old pieces as models. The drum was cleaned and sealed with tung oil, the original skin drumheads were reinforced and mounted, and new ropes and leather slides were added. The drum is now on public display at the Tuscarora Academy.


Welcome Park Dedicated

Until recently, there has been no major memorial to Wil­liam Penn in the area known as “America’s most historic square mile,” around Independence Hall. That situation was remedied this past October when the Friends of Independence National Historical Park (INHP) dedicated Welcome Park, named for the ship which brought William Penn to America in 1682. The park is located at Second and Sansom Streets, the entrance to Independence National Historical Park, and represents four years of effort by the Friends of INHP to es­tablish a lasting tribute to William Penn.

The site of the park was originally that of the Slate Roof House, the only known Philadelphia residence of Hannah and William Penn. It was here that their son, John “the Ameri­can,” who succeeded his father as chief proprietor, was born in January 1700 and here that Penn signed and sealed the fam­ous “Charter of Privileges” on October 28, 1701. In later years, the Slate Roof House, so called because of its then­-unique roof, became one of America’s most fashionable rooming houses. Among those co hang their hats there were Washington, John Hancock and Benedict Arnold.

In spite of public protest, the historic structure was demol­ished in 1867 to make way for the Corn Exchange Building, which housed the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. That building burned down prior to 1869, when it was replaced by the Commercial Exchange Building, more recently known as the Keystone Telephone Company Building. After the third structure on the site collapsed in 1978, the property was leveled and used as a parking lot.

The Friends of INHP first considered reconstructing the Slate Roof House, but a feasibility study and lack of knowl­edge concerning the structure put the idea beyond their reach. So the Friends and the National Park Service, who will main­tain the property, decided on Welcome Park.

The park features a plaza of marble and granite laid in a pattern of orderly squares which represent Penn’s original plan for Philadelphia. Inscriptions will be taken from Penn’s most significant statements about his plans and dreams for “a greene country town which will never be burnt and always be wholesome,” where the “air is sweet and clear, the heavens serene …. ” Four trees, chosen from those found by Penn in Pennsylvania, will mark the original squares of the city now called Franklin, Washington, Logan and Rittenhouse. Centre Square, with a statue of William Penn and his poetic farewell to Philadelphia, will be the focal point. Walls on the east and south sides will display graphics portraying Penn’s life and philosophy.

Welcome Park will give people of all ages, creeds and na­tionalities an appreciation for the man whose beliefs and vi­sion have had a profound effect on our heritage.


Black History in Pennsylvania, Sixth Annual Conference

“Black Entrepreneurship and Industry: Past and Present:
May 5-7, 1983

Keynote By The Honorable Julian Bond

Program Features:

  • Conference Papers
  • Workshop
  • Career Opportunities
  • Fair Film: “Benny’s Place”

Holiday Inn, Downtown Harrisburg

For information contact: Matthew S. Magda, Division of History, PHMC, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120

Cosponsors: PHMC, Pa. Blue Shield & Pa. Dept. of Education