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

To observe February 2000 as Black History Month, the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a special driving tour which includes the John­son House in Germantown, a station along the Underground Railroad, and Camp William Penn, the nation’s first recruiting and training camp for black soldiers, where eleven thousand troops were trained. The country’s first anti­slavery protest took place in Ger­mantown in 1688. Less than a century later, five thousand African Americans – some free men, others promised freedom in exchange for serving – fought in the American Revolution; a monument at Valley Forge National Historical Park commemorates their service. Other stops on the tour include Abolition Hall in Plymouth Meeting and the home of abolitionist Lucretia Mott in Cheltenham Township. For a free copy of the guidebook “Fun Field Trips,” which includes twelve additional one-day tours, write: Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, 600 West Ger­mantown Pk., Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462; telephone (610) 834-1550 or toll-free (800) 441-3549; or visit the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau website. Free.


An intensive eight-day study tour examining the England of Pennsylvania founder William Penn (1644-1718) will be conducted under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Heritage Society in October 2000. Participants, led by historian Larry E. Tise, will visit the Church of All Hallows, where Penn was baptized and where, in 1999, Governor Tom Ridge and PHMC Chairman Janet S. Klein presented a check to the church for the restoration of a carved stone cartouche that honors Penn as the founder of Pennsylvania. The tour will offer many “behind-the-scenes” visits to historic attractions and a welcome at the American Embassy in London. The tour departs Philadelphia on Sunday, October 15, 2000. For information, write: Pennsylvania Her­itage Society, P.O. Box 11466, Harrisburg, PA 17108-1466; telephone (717) 787-2407. Reservation.


“Sterling Strauser: A Modernist Revis­ited,” showcasing the works of one of the country’s preeminent artists, is on view at the Reading Public Museum through Sunday, February 27, 2000. The Pennsylvania resident’s work has been shown in a number of prestigious exhibitions and his works are held by many private and public collections. More infor­mation is available by writing: Reading Public Museum, 500 Museum Rd., Reading, PA 19611; or by telephoning (610) 371-5850. Admission.


The nineteenth annual Canal History and Technology Sympo­sium, sponsored by the National Canal Museum and Lafayette Col­lege, will be held on Saturday, March 18, 2000, at the Easton col­lege. Topics include the engineer­ing career of Lafayette College’s James Madison Porter III; the his­tory of Pennsylvania’s Erie Exten­sion Canal; the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company and the Mollie Maguire trials; the Switch­back Railroad of the Panther Val­ley; and a the history of Unity House, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union’s resort in the Pocono Mountains. For agenda information, write: National Canal Museum, 30 Cen­tre Sq., Easton, PA 18042-7743; or telephone (61) 559-6613. Registra­tion.


The Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania will conduct its first annual “Italian Americans in Western Pennsylva­nia History Conference” on Saturday, April 29, 2000. The conference will be held at the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, which is admin­istered by the society. For details, write: Historical Society of Western Pennsylva­nia, 1212 Smallman St., Pittsburgh, PA 15222; telephone (412) 454-6433. Registration.


“PSU Collects WPA” will be on view at the Palmer Museum of Art, located on the University Park campus of the Pennsylva­nia State University, from Tuesday, January 4, through Sunday, March 5, 2000. The exhibition features prints from several of the university’s collections, among them the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, libraries, and the museum, to chronicle the story of the institution’s involvement with the Works Progress Administration (WPA). To obtain additional information, write: Palmer Museum of Art, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16801-2507; telephone (814) 865-7672. Free.


The 2000 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation and Heritage Partnerships Conference will be held in Reading, Berks County, from Wednesday through Friday, April 12-14, 2000. The annual statewide conference deals with historic preserva­tion and various projects and initiatives in the Commonwealth. For more details, write: Preservation Pennsylvania, 257 North St., Harrisburg, PA 17101; telephone (717) 234-2310; or visit the Preservation Pennsylvania website. Registration.


In a world in which electronic mail, faxes, voice mail messages, and pagers are part of daily life, the picture postcard is rapidly becoming a charming vestige of the past. Introduced in 1869, postcards became most popular after the appearance of illustrated examples in 1889. During the postcard’s “golden age,” from 1898 through 1918, the Jewish communities of the United States and Europe were as avid as their gentile neighbors in purchasing and exchanging these picture postcards. “Past Perfect: The Jewish Experience in Early Twentieth Century Postcards,” on view at the National Museum of Ameri­can Jewish History through Sunday, Janu­ary 9, 2000, features more than one hun­dred and fifty Jewish holiday and theme cards dating to the turn-of-the-­century. For more informa­tion, write: National Museum of American Jew­ish History, 55 North Fifth St., Philadel­phia, PA 19106-2197; telephone (215) 923-3811; or visit the National Museum of American Jew­ish History website. Admission.


Continuing through Wednesday, Feb­ruary 23, 2000, at the Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg is an exhibition entitled “The Art of illustration,” featuring selections spanning four centuries. The exhibit includes works by artists who cre­ated for both commercial and non-com­mercial endeavors, including William Blake, Charles Demuth, Charles Dana Gib­son, and N.C. Wyeth. Among twentieth­-century pieces in the exhibit will be works by children’s book illustrators, including Beatrix Potter. To obtain more information, write: Susquehanna Art Museum, 511 Strawberry Square, Harrisburg, PA 17101; or telephone (717) 233-8668. Admission.


Chronicling the heritage of Mennonite farming families of Bucks and Mont­gomery Counties is “As the Land, So the People: Farm, Faith, and Community,” continuing through Saturday, April 1, 2000, at the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville. “As the Lat1d, So the Peo­ple” features re-creations of a wash house, butcher house, and a bam. A video pre­sents a look at the changing landscape of the farming region. For more details, write: Mennonite Heritage Center, 565 Yoder Rd., P.O. Box 82, Harleysville, PA 19438; telephone (215) 256-3020; or visit the Mennonite Heritage Center website. Admission.


Works by popular children’s book illustrator and Erie native Marc Brown, creator of “Arthur the Aardvark,” familiar to PBS television viewers across the nation, will be on view at the Erie Art Museum at Discovery Square through Sunday, April 16, 2000. Additional infor­mation may be obtained by writing: Erie Art Museum at Discovery Square, 411 State St., Erie, PA 16501; by telephoning (814) 459-5477. Admission.


Great chairs made in the twentieth century and representing the best in inno­vative design and applications of new technologies from around the world have been assembled as a permanent collection of the Vitra Design Museum in Basel, Switzerland. The collection includes clas­sics by designers as diverse as Ray and Charles Eames, Frank O. Gehry, Philippe Starck, Marcel Breuer, Harry Bertoia, Alvar Aalto, Eero Saarinen, and Josef Hof­mann. From Sunday, January 16, through Sunday, April 9, 2000, the Allentown Art Museum will host a traveling exhibition entitled “100 Masterpieces from the Vitra Design Museum Collection.” Additional information is available by writing: Allen­town Art Museum, Fifth and Courts Sts., Allentown, PA 18105; or by telephoning (610) 432-4333. Admission.