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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Miniature Lord’s Prayer

Why would a calligrapher print the words to the Lord’s Prayer on a 1-inch-square piece of paper in letters so small that one would need a magnifying glass to read it? Even more puzzling: Why would someone fold such a small document to a quarter of its actual size? The answers may have more to do with the spiritual beliefs of some German-speaking Pennsylvanians in the 18th century rather than any...
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Powwowing: Ritual Healing in Pennsylvania Dutch Country

It was just after dark when the powwow doctor arrived at the elderly woman’s home in Lebanon County. The woman had been suffering from swelling in her legs that made walking difficult. Regular medical treatment had proven to be unsuccessful, so after enduring several months of painful discomfort, she called a powwower on the advice of a friend. Tonight would be the third successive...
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Editor’s Letter

“We all have a memory culture that we carry around with us,” Don Yoder (1921–2015) stated when I interviewed him for Pennsylvania Heritage (see “Meet Don Yoder, Dean of Folklife Scholars,” Spring 2006). “We get it from our parents and grandparents, from our childhood, from our uncles and aunts, from our contacts with friends.” For 70 years Yoder, who passed...
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Bookshelf

Devastation and Renewal: An Environmental History of Pittsburgh and its Region Edited by Joel A. Tarr University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004 (281 pages, cloth, $32.00) Visitors to Pittsburgh in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were invariably shocked by the ways in which industrial development dominated the landscape. Steel mills sprawled across hundreds of acres along the rivers. Land and...
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Letters

Hex Appeal I was pleased to see the article on Don Yoder in the spring 2006 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage. Dr. Yoder is considered by many to be the premier scholar on all things Pennsylvania Dutch and his contributions were well documented in that issue. I was, however, somewhat disturbed by the information provided on the inside page of the magazine regarding the cover picture that featured a...
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Groundhog Day

Punxsutawney Phil seemed a bit confused on Saturday September 11, 2004, when his handler Bill Deeley held him up to admire the newly-unveiled state historical marker commemorating Groundhog Day. Surely it was much too early to prognosticate the winter weather! Unbeknownst to Phil, S.Thomas Curry, director of the Punxsutawney Area Historical and Genealogi­cal Society, had nominated Groundhog Day...
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Executive Director’s Letter

I hope enjoying you the are enjoying the new features that have been introduced in recent issues of Pennsylvania Heritage. They are aimed at enhancing our relationships with history organizations, cultural institutions, museums, and historic preservation groups throughout the Commonwealth. We also hope these new features will keep you better informed about our programs and activities....
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Ancestry of the Pennsylvania Germans

The ancestry of the Pennsylvania Germans has been an extraordinarily rich genealogical mine from which researchers have extracted informa­tion since at least the time of Israel Daniel Rupp (1803-1878), a self-taught historian who collated primary source records along with family histories in the 1840s. Since the mid-nineteenth century, a princi­pal genealogical challenge of these families has...
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Meet Don Yoder: Dean of Folklife Scholars

In 1710, Hans Joder, originally from Canton Bern in Switzerland, arrived in Pennsylvania and made a home in the fertile Oley Valley of southeastern Pennsylvania. Twenty-eight years later, Johannes Cronister of Franconia in northern Bavaria, whose grandfather had been a Protestant fugitive from Lower Austria, came to the province and settled in the region that would later become Adams County....
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