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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Editor’s Letter

Football, fine art, and festivals. Throughout the years, Pennsylvanians have received national acclaim in all three fields. Each has become a vital part of our shared heritage, engaging residents and representing the commonwealth’s rich and diverse culture. In this edition, you’ll find three outstanding features on prominent examples of these activities in the Keystone State. Football has been...
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Trailheads

History never truly sleeps on the Pennsylvania Trails of History, but winter is generally a slower season with reduced schedules and fewer programs and events. Charter Day, the celebration of Pennsylvania’s founding (the second Sunday in March), is the traditional start to our spring season. As the weather warms, activity increases at the sites and museums. The landscape loses its dull winter...
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Powwowing in Pennsylvania by Patrick J. Donmoyer

Powwowing in Pennsylvania Braucherei and the Ritual of Everyday Life by Patrick J. Donmoyer Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center/Masthof Press, 343 pp., cloth $45, paper $35 In Powwowing in Pennsylvania, author Donmoyer gives a fresh and comprehensive account of traditional ritual healing practices (largely) among the Pennsylvania Dutch. The book ties together years of solid research,...
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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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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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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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Editor’s Letter

Sometimes Pennsylvania history occurs outside the boundaries of the Keystone State. Throughout the past, Pennsylvanians have traveled to other parts of the U.S. or have gone abroad to make their marks in the commonwealth’s history. Pennsylvania’s involvement in World War I is a good example, when soldiers from the state joined their fellow American servicemen in the Allied fight against the...
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Editor’s Letter

America is experiencing a beer renaissance that began three decades ago, and Pennsylvania has been at its forefront from the start. New craft breweries have flooded the market with an amazing variety of styles, diversifying the taste buds of beer drinkers nationwide. The Brewers Association (BA) defines a craft brewer as independent, small (6 million barrels or less a year) and traditional...
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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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