Bicentennial News

Bicentennial News features reports about the American Revolution Bicentennial in Pennsylvania, including programs, events and publications of PHMC, as well as projects and activities of the Bicentennial Commission of Pennsylvania, county historical societies and other institutions.

State Bicentennial Programs Underway

As the Bicentennial celebration continues to gain mo­mentum, Pennsylvania’s goal of a statewide com­memoration focusing on the historic aspects and the spirit of the Revolution is being realized. According to Lt. Gov. Ernest P. Kline, chairman of the Bicentennial Commis­sion of Pennsylvania, the progress that is being made in im­plementing the Commission’s slate of statewide programs and the enthusiasm being shown by community groups in undertaking ambitious projects at the local level have com­bined to produce a fitting Bicentennial celebration in the Commonwealth.

“Pennsylvanians can point with pride to the efforts being made on behalf of the Bicentennial celebration in the Commonwealth,” said Lt. Gov. Kline. “Those efforts reflect the willingness of untold numbers of Pennsylvanians to give freely of themselves to insure the success of meaningful Bicentennial programs and projects throughout the Commonwealth.

“The enthusiasm being shown for the Bicentennial cele­bration in Pennsylvania seems only natural,” added the Lieutenant Governor. Virtually every area in the Common­wealth played a memorable role in the formation of the nation. As a result there are few communities in the Common­wealth that can’t claim a direct tie with the events and personalities of the Revolution. The key role that Pennsyl­vania played in the Revolution makes us all more appreciative of our heritage and anxious to make personal contribu­tions to the Bicentennial celebration.

“The desire of untold numbers of Pennsylvanians to “participate in Bicentennial activities in their communities has been the major factor in deter­mining the character of the Bicen­tennial celebration in the Common­wealth,” noted Lt. Gov. Kline. “When we surveyed residents of Pennsylvania we found that 96 percent felt that we should have a statewide celebration rather than a single major effort focusing on a given site.”

The Lieutenant Governor indicated that the programs developed by the Bicentennial Commission of Pennsylvania and the grants which have been awarded for Bicentennial projects throughout the Commonwealth reflect the efforts being made by the Commission to give Pennsylvania a truly statewide celebration. Pennsylvania’s statewide Bicentennial programs are:

(1) A Rededication Center Program will provide Pennsyl­vanians and visitors with the opportunity to sign a Declara­tion of Rededication to the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence at special “Signing Stations” in the Commonwealth. Following the Bicentennial the Re­dedication scrolls will become part of the archives of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to serve as a permanent commemorative of the Bicentennial celebration.

(2) “My America – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” a nationwide competition for students, is being co-sponsored by the Bicentennial Commission of Pennsylvania and the Na­tional Education Association through its membership of nearly two million educators within the national school sys­tem. The competition will encourage students from kinder­garten through grade twelve to express their creative thoughts about America during the Bicentennial year in one of four categories: the arts, crafts, letters or the sciences. The indi­vidual winners from each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the NEA Overseas Education Association, their parents or guardians and sponsoring teachers will be invited to Pennsylvania during the week of July 4, 1976, to share in the Bicentennial festivities as guests of the Commonwealth. The announcement of the three na­tional winners of $5,000, $2,500, and $1,500 prizes for educational purposes will be made on July 4 at Indepen­dence Hall.

(3) Pennsylvania’s “V.I.P.” program (“Visitor in Penn­sylvania”) will spotlight the Commonwealth’s role as host to the nation for the Bicentennial. Throughout the Bicentennial year visitors will be given “V.I.P.” buttons to identify them­selves as visitors and honored guests during the Bicentennial celebration in Pennsylvania. Residents in every corner of the Commonwealth will be encouraged to wear “V.I.P.” – Ask Me” buttons as an expression of their willingness to make a special effort to make the V.I.P. feel welcome.

(4) Pennsylvania’s Passport to History will be the official guide for the Commonwealth during the Bicentennial celebration. The booklet, resembling the passports used by international travelers, will be full of useful and interesting information for both Pennsylvanians traveling within the Commonwealth and visitors alike. The Passport to History will include thirteen special sections concerning all regions of Pennsylvania, listing historic sites and Bicentennial activ­ities as well as restaurants, motels, hotels, attractions and other information of value to the traveler. A special visa section which can be stamped as the passport holder passes from region to region within the Commonwealth is provided. When the stamps from at least five different regions are acquired, a tear-out page in the passport can be redeemed for a free, commemorative Bicentennial gift.

(5) The Bicentennial Wagon Train Pilgrimage to Pennsyl­vania is a replay of history in reverse using Conestoga wagons of the type that were first produced in Pennsylvania. As part of the trek, which begins in Blaine, Washington, in June, wagons from forty-nine states will wind their way to Valley Forge where they will form an encampment as part of the Bicentennial celebration.

(6) Pennsylvania’s “Living History” program will draw attention to sites, events, and activities throughout the Commonwealth that will bring Revolutionary America alive during the Bicentennial celebration. The Colonial Pennsyl­vania Plantation at Ridley Creek State Park in Delaware County, a working colonial farm; the ambitious program of activities planned for Fort Pitt including regular exhibitions by the fort’s 60th Regiment; and Chester County’s “Project 1776,” an educational program designed to help bring Revo­lutionary history alive for elementary school students through classroom and field experiences, are representative of the type of “Living History” projects now being conducted by local groups in cooperation with the Bicentennial Commission of Pennsylvania.

The Colonial Plantation, Fort Pitt, and “Project 1776” programs are three of the more than ninety Bicentennial projects throughout Pennsylvania to be awarded grants through the Commission. The grants, totaling over $3,800,000 to local Bicentennial groups in every section of the Commonwealth, cover a variety of activities ranging from restorations to colonial reenactments to scholarly re­search to the presentation of plays from the colonial era.

As a part of the nationwide program being conducted b the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration in cooperation with the Bicentennial Commission of Pennsylvania, over 300 communities within the Commonwealth have gained recognition as national Bicentennial Communities to date. To be approved under the guidelines set forth for the program, each participating community must demonstrate that it has a comprehensive Bicentennial program that recalls the nation’s heritage, encourages the participation of all Americans and visitors, commemorates the nation’ past by looking to the future, and provides at least one lasting reminder of the Bicentennial celebration.


Council Named for ‘Freedoms’

A fourteen-member advisory council has been appointed for the Bicentennial project, “Freedoms: Then, Now, and, Tomorrow.”

Members are Mrs. H. Frederick Nielsen, Jr., education chairman of the Pennsylvania Federation of Women’s Clubs. Mrs. Bernard R. Laut, president of the Pennsylvania Federation of Women’s Clubs; Jay Harris Feldstein, attorney; Dr. Robert F. Marler, Jr., director of American Studies, Temple University; Dr. Arthur L. Schultz, president, Albright College; Dr. Harold H. Hutson, president of Lycoming College Williamsport; Samuel Line, Jr., assistant vice president for community relations, Bell of Pennsylvania.

The Rev. Charles L. Coleman, program director of religious affairs, Eisenhower Chapel; Dr. Kent Forster, head, Department of History; Marlowe D. Froke, director, Media and Learning Resources; Dr. John Leathers, administrative director for Commonwealth Campuses; Dr. James E. Van Horn, associate director of Child Development and Family Life Extension; and Patricia A. Bodman, administrative ser­vices coordinator, all of The Pennsylvania State University.

The project, coordinated by Penn State through funds provided by the Public Committee for the Humanities in Pennsylvania, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Bell Telephone Company of Penn­sylvania, will consider the historical base for freedom, a contemporary analysis of freedom, and a projection of free­dom’s future directions in the decades ahead.

The council is under the direction of Dr. Norman A. Graebner, Edward R. Stettinius professor of modern Amer­ican history at the University of Virginia, who was appointed to the position at Penn State for one year beginning July 1 [1975].

The council will also support Dr. Graebner in enlisting the participation of colleges, universities and agencies in the implementation of the project. One of its major concerns coordination at the state level of use of various components of the project.