Trailheads

Charter Day – always the second Sunday in March – kicks off the spring season on the Pennsylvania Trails of History. Public program schedules start to fill up, and the influx of school group visits reaches its peak. Spring lambs and other animal babies make their appearance at sites with livestock programs, and our many gardens show signs of new life as well. For up-to-date...
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WWII Target: Altoona

The tale of the bold but fizzled 1942 Nazi plot to sabotage the Horseshoe Curve railroad landmark near Altoona, Pennsylvania, has been told in books and articles almost since the day the spy-thriller story began to unfold. First came a juvenile-fiction account in 1944 titled The Long Trains Roll by Stephen W. Meader. It recounts the story of Operation Pastorius, a wry allusion to the theme of...
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Paying It Forward: The Legacy of Genevieve Blatt

When she was a judge on Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court, Genevieve Blatt (1913-96) was known to instruct her law clerks that she didn’t want to see them typing. “She was very insistent that we had other people who could perform that task for us,” said Mary K. Kisthardt, a former law clerk for the judge who is now a professor of law at the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law....
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Loleta Recreation Area

Upon his inauguration on March 4, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set about combating the economic crisis of the Great Depression with his New Deal program of economic reforms and public work projects. One of the most popular programs established that year was “Roosevelt’s Tree Army,” the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which was part of the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) Act....
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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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Keystone Flagship: USS Pennsylvania Leading the Navy through Two World Wars

“Air raid on Pearl Harbor. This is not drill.” The message went out from the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Its brevity belied the gravity of the event it reported. The White House released the information shortly before 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, and many people learned the news throughout the afternoon as radio programs were...
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Remember Dec. 7th

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and Congress’ declaration of war on Japan the following day, the U.S. officially entered World War II. As the nation moved into full-force mobilization, the government initiated a propaganda effort to boost morale and patriotism. Several wartime agencies produced and disseminated propaganda, including the Office of War Information (OWI)...
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A Pitcher, A President and a Home Movie

In November 2013 the Pennsylvania State Archives was contacted by Mrs. Judith Savastio regarding a home movie that her father filmed. She had questions about preserving the film and was interested in finding a repository for its permanent care. Mrs. Savastio’s father, Major League Baseball pitcher James “Jimmie” DeShong (1909-1993), shot the film on his new 8mm home movie...
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The Dream of Security: Johnstown and Flood Control

They don’t take rain for granted in Johnstown anymore. Walking down Market Street or cruising Route 56, pedestrians may pause and drivers may slow as the first drops land. Anxious glances skyward reveal the unspoken thought: will it happen again? They are re­calling the terrible night in July 1977 when the rain fell and fell and the dream of a flood-free Johnstown shattered for­ever. That...
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Back to the Land! Pennsylvania’s New Deal Era Communities

The economic collapse of 1929 ushered in a decade fraught with deep, often tremu­lous, questioning of the na­tion’s development and future. Many were the cries to re­turn to the land. As a result, two all-new rural communities founded in Pennsylvania in the mid-1930s – Norvelt, in Westmoreland County, and Penn-Craft, in adjacent Fayette County – remain today as testimony to...
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