William Penn Memorial Museum Events

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

William Penn Honored

Approximately 1,200 pupils from across the Common­wealth came to William Penn Memorial Museum to help celebrate the 331st birthday of William Penn on October 24 [1975].

The young students participated or shared in musical interludes, simulations of expeditions, self-made films, games and skits – all signifying America’s cultural heritage. The spirit of the approaching Bicentennial permeated the day’s festivities, which culminated in a demonstration of baking bread and churning butter by the chairman of the Pennsylvania Histor­ical and Museum Commission, Mrs. Ferne Smith Hetrick. Children and adults also were treated to cupcakes and Red Delicious apples provided by the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education and the PHMC co-sponsored the tribute to Pennsylvania’s founder. Ms. Elizabeth Haller of the PDE chaired the event and was assisted by Carl Oblinger of the PHMC.

Dr. Russell P. Getz, chief of the Bureau of Curriculum Services, PDE, acted as master of ceremonies during the morning session held in the Museum’s Memorial Hall under the great statue of William Penn. Harry E. Whipkey, director, Bureau of Archives and History, and Dr. Frank S. Man­chester, new commissioner of Basic Education of the PDE, welcomed pupils and teachers on behalf of the two organizations.

After the introductions, William B. Mclaughlin, legisla­tive secretary to the Governor, read Governor Milton J. Shapp’s proclamation designating October 24 [1975] as William Penn Day and October 19-26 [1975] as Pennsylvania Week. The Proclamation read in part:

” .. . Penn dreamed of an utopian asylum where men could govern themselves and worship as they pleased. As Proprietor, William Penn introduced a humanitarian code, ‘The Great Law.’ which became a fundamental basis for Pennsylvania law. Civil liberties, freedom of worship and social reforms were encouraged. Slavery and war were op­posed.

“More than three centuries later, we still enjoy many of the institutions and reforms which Penn zealously estab­lished. His philosophy and ideas continue to inspire and guide us today … ”

Musical interludes were given in a program, “Our Musical Heritage,” by Sally Dieffenbacher and Emily Giffin of the William Penn staff; Patricia Heiple of North Star Joint High School, Boswell, in Somerset County; and the Fife and Drum Corps of the Erie School District and Erie Museum. Mrs. Diefeenbacher and Dr. Giffin presented selections on the harpsichord and the cello. Miss Heiple discussed and played the mountain folk instrument, the dulcimer. Members of the Erie Fife and Drum Corps explained their instruments and held pupils enthralled with their selections.

Students from Upper Dublin School District in Mont­gomery County presented a simulation of the Reenactment of the Quebec Expedition. One of the participants, student John Armstrong (who said he really isn’t related to Gen. John Armstrong of Kittanning Expedition fame) said that the recent Quebec Expedition Reenactment consisted of 600 marchers and took one and a half weeks. Members wear all handmade clothing and carry handmade powder horns, canteens and Pennsylvania rifles. Armstrong said his mother helped him to make his outfit.

Penn’s fair treatment of and respect for the Indians was emphasized this year by the participation of the Susque­hannock Area Indian Center of Harrisburg. The Center pre­sented an Indian costume display, demonstrations of native craft including basketmaking, stonecarving and pottery making.

In addition to the arts and crafts of the Indian Center, afternoon exhibits and demonstrations consisted of those from Bethlehem Area – Calpyso Elementary School; Upper Dublin School District and Lower Dauphin School District. Lower Dauphin’s Historic Restoration Project’s display was explained by students who are members of the special Longitudinal Studies’ project. Student Jeff Page said the project idea was presented to the students when they were fresh­men, with actual work beginning in their sophomore year. About twenty-five seniors are involved in the project. Page said that after graduation, the class hopes to present its work to elementary students. A Christmas festival will be held at the restored house December 22 and 23 [1975]. The house is located at 232 East Main Street, Hummelstown.

Special Bicentennial projects presented included colonial skits (video-taped as they were performed) by students at Western Wayne School District in Wayne County; a student­-produced film and a simulated game: 1787 by the Parkland School District, Lehigh County; and Bicentennial speaking by students at Upper Dublin School District, Montgomery County. The Parkland District also presented a student-designed Bicentennial seal to be used by the Lehigh County Bicentennial Commission.

To conclude activities, Mrs. Hetrick demonstrated baking bread and churning butter, and pupils and teachers sampled the bread, baked from an old family recipe of the chairman’s. Antique equipment from the museum’s collection was used to churn the butter.


Pilot Project for the Handicapped

William Penn Memorial Museum is a step closer to being “barrier-free” as a result of four motorized wheelchairs and an electric wheelchair lift being placed into operation September 19 [1975].

The project, costing approximately $3,000, represents a gift from the L. B. Smith Cultural Foundation, Inc., to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Kenneth R. Moyer, president of the Foundation, pre­sented the equipment during a formal program opening Handicapped Day at the State Museum. Secretary of Wel­fare Frank S. Beal accepted the gift for the Commonwealth. Representatives from the Department of Labor and Indus­try were also present.

The chairs and elevator represent a pilot project for the Commission. The lift or elevator has been installed in the ground floor area to provide better access for the handi­capped to the Museum Auditorium. The battery-operated chairs have the capability of providing better movement for the handicapped in touring throughout the museum.

Mrs. Ferne Smith Hetrick, daughter of the late industrial­ist for whom the Foundation is named, is chairman of the PHMC.


College Concert Series

The Chestnut Hill Choral Group will be featured January 29 [1976] in the Thursday College Concert Series held at noon in the William Penn Memorial Museum. Other concerts slated are:

Temple University Choir, February 5; Drexel University Colonial Ensemble and Varsity Singers, February 19; Ursinus Meistersingers, February 26; Moravian College Choir, March 4; United Wesleyan College Choir, March 18; and Carnegie Mellon University Baroque Ensemble, April 22.

Concerts already held have included: Kings College Men in Red, Lycoming College Singers and Jazz Combo, Buck University Band, East Stroudsburg State College Madrigal Singers, Waynesburg College Singers and Wind Ensemble and Lincoln University Chorale I.


Blind Craft Classes

Craft Classes for the Blind are held every Tuesday morn­ing at William Penn Memorial Museum. Activities include spinning, weaving, pottery making and crocheting.

Volunteer instructors are Sam Hepford, weaving, and Mrs. Barbara McClure, pottery making. Mrs. Marty Schell of the staff is in charge of crocheting and knitting.


Weekend Classic Films

It was standing room only for several movies shown recently in the Weekend Classic Films series at William Penn Memorial Museum. The films were Oklahoma, The Unconquered, Little Women and Rebecca.

The films were shown at 2:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.