Painter of the Stars by Lee S. Heffner and Patrick J. Donmoyer

Painter of the Stars The Life and Work of Milton J. Hill (1887–1972) by Lee S. Heffner and Patrick J. Donmoyer Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center, 144 pp., hardcover $35 The most familiar visual symbols of Pennsylvania Dutch folk culture are the colorful circular designs known popularly as “hex signs,” which adorn countless items marketed to visitors to Pennsylvania’s Dutch Country,...
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More Than Decoration: Barn Stars Sustain the Spirit of Folk Tradition

The rungs of the extension ladder echoed across the hollow as the barn star painters prepared to ascend the facade of the barn to begin their third and final day of work. Carefully selecting their brushes and colors, the painters took their places 20 feet above the barnyard where they worked their magic. With rapid and calculated movements, they began applying the paint to the rough contours of...
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Chicken and Waffles: The Pennsylvania Story

In his 1861 local-color novel The Young Parson, German Reformed minister Peter Seibert Davis (1828–92) described chicken and waffles as the “stereotypical” Sunday supper among the Pennsylvania Dutch. How this dish moved from a regional identity food into mainstream American cookery is indeed a complicated story, especially since chicken and waffles reached its height of popularity during the...
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The Easter Egg: A Flourishing Tradition in Pennsylvania

The hen cackled in the early morning light as the door of the chicken coup opened and the boy walked in with his basket. He had risen before dawn to help with the farmwork as usual. But on this most suspicious of days, Karfreidaag, or Good Friday, gathering the eggs was no mere ordinary task. As on all other mornings, the boy deftly reached under the clucking hens, soothing the birds with a few...
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Daisy E. Lampkin: Activist for Racial and Gender Equality

Daisy E. Lampkin (1883–1965) dedicated her life to advancing the rights of  women and African Americans in the United States during the first half of the 20th century. Born Daisy Elizabeth Adams in Washington, D.C., she spent her childhood in Reading, Berks County, before moving to Pittsburgh in 1909 and marrying restauranteur William Lampkin in 1912. She began her public career at the height of...
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Kutztown Folk Festival: America’s Oldest Folklife Celebration

The Kutztown Folk Festival, originally called the Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Festival, is a milestone among American community celebrations. Observing 70 years in 2019, it is the first and longest-running folklife festival in the history of the United States. Although many other popular celebrations preceded the Kutztown festival, it has had a national impact as the first festival founded and...
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PHMC Highlights

Lost Revolutionary War-Era Legislative Minutes Returned A lost original volume of the minutes of Pennsylvania’s unicameral Revolutionary War–era General Assembly was recently returned to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for safekeeping at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, Dauphin County. The book, with entries dated from March 16 through September 27, 1779, and pages numbered 1...
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Stockings, Cap Braids and Bomber Turrets: Wyomissing Industries Mobilizes for World War II

  “Textile Machine Works suspends production of knitting machines for the duration.” – The Yarn Carrier, October 1942 The Textile Machine Works was one of a handful of companies with common ownership that became known as Wyomissing Industries, located just west of Reading in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The 13,430th and last knitting machine, a “Reading” model, was the embodiment of 40 years...
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Editor’s Letter

In Pennsylvania Heritage, we often run stories related to current anniversaries. Anniversaries give us the opportunity to focus on moments that have remained significant from our shared past — in our case as a community of Pennsylvanians — to gain a better perspective on what came before us and how the achievements, challenges and even misfortunes of history can instruct us in the present. Three...
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Der Belsnickel: Nicholas in Furs or Hairy Devil?

“There was a rush of noise outside that broke the silence of the winter night — a clanking of chains and a scratching at the kitchen window. Mother encouraged my brother and me to leave the dinner table to see who was outside. At the window, a ghastly masked face greeted us with an unearthly cackle. Clad in a rumpled fur overcoat, the figure carried an old gunnysack in one hand and a bundle of...
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