Bookshelf provides descriptions and notices of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects.

Amish Houses and Barns

by Stephen Scott
Good Books, 1992 (158 pages, paper, $5.95)

Home is the center of Amish life, and most – if not all – major life events occur within its walls: birth, mar­riage, visiting, worship, recreation, and death. Amish Houses and Barns is a carefully researched “behind-the­-scenes” look at these events on three farms in particular, as well as a sound analysis of the ties that bind Amish families to the land in general. In addition to studying farm­steads in Ohio and Indiana, the author examines the history and cultural development of a typical Amish house and barn in Lancaster County, the fifty­-two acre farm of Stephen Stolzfus, which has been owned by the Amish since 1825. In a chapter entitled “The Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Amish Commu­nity,” the author provides general background on the best known of all Amish communities. Lancaster County is the oldest continu­ously occupied Amish settlement in North America, tracing its history the the mid­-eighteenth century. Amish Houses and Barns features dozens of black and white photographs of typical Amish architectural styles, even though their farm buildings are not as important to them as the uniformity of their dress. Several anecdotal stories­ – such as visits to the Stolzfus family by the Death Angel in the nineteenth century – serve to enhance the sect’s human story and give its members dimension. Amish Houses and Barns offers an insider’s look at the traditions and customs of an often misunderstood way of life by the author, who is a member of the Old Order River Brethren, a group related to the Amish and the Menno­nites.


Bits and Pieces: Textile Traditions

by Jeanette Lasansky, et al.
Oral Traditions Project, 1991 (120 pages, paper, $22.00)

Twelve authorities, includ­ing quilt historians, folklorists, and social historians, explore a broad spectrum of topics in this fourteenth book published by the Oral Traditions Project of the Union County Historical Society, Lewisburg, including late nineteenth century dress fabrics, dowry quilts, fabrics used by Pennsylvania German farm families, workbasket tools, and the nationalization of “Pennsylvania Dutch” patterns. The authors delve into the connection between dress fabrics of the second half of the nineteenth century and period quilts; examine different fabric sources over more than a century; and detail the development of tools such as pins, needles, shears and scissors, seamknives, thimbles, and the sewing machine, as well as the needleworker’s individual attitude towards new and evolving technologies. While two contributors explore the role of quilts in both men’s and women’s dowries (or marriage portions), others analyze the influence of fairs and contests on the makers and how it impacted on the articles they made for themselves and others. Interesting, although infrequently discussed, aspects of Pennsylvania’s pieces and appliqued quiltmaking traditions are illustrated and addressed in depth: pillowcase covers and a wide variety of small pieces, including outhouse bags, pockets and petticoats, doll quilts, and sculptural objects. Bits and Pieces: Textile Traditions also traces related textile traditions in areas of Germanic settle­ment along the “great wagon road” from Philadelphia to North Carolina.


The Journey of John W. Mosley

by Charles L. Blockson
Quantum Leap Publisher, 1992 (192 pages, cloth, $35.00)

Subtitled An African­-American Pictorial Album, this heavily illustrated book offers a penetrating look at the photographs made by John W. Mosley, a self-taught African American photographer born in 1907 (see “His Eye Was On the Positive” by Richard D. Beards in the winter 1990 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage). As a chronicler of Philadelphia’s Black social and cultural life, Mosley recorded – and so confirmed – the existence of a viable, productive, and stable African American community from the 1930s through the 1960s. He not only captured the rich traditions and customs that fellow African Americans cherished, but he graphically documented the community’s responses to the periods following the Great Depres­sion and to those during World War II and the civil rights movement. Mosely’s photographs provide an accurate, sensitive, and revealing portrait of African Americans. His images are provocative and offer a rare, insider’s view of an African American community by one intimately associated with it. The Journey of John W. Mosley is the first book of its kind to interpret Philadelphia’s rich African American heritage and culture, and it features not only ordinary Philadelphians, but the prominent national and international celebrities with whom they interacted.


The Storm Gathering

by Lorett Treese
Penn State Press, 1992 (245 pages, cloth, $26.50)

Most Pennsylvanians are familiar with the story of William Penn and the found­ing of Pennsylvania in 1681 as a haven for religious dissent­ers, but few may know what became of his beloved enter­prise – the “Proprietorship” – in the years following his death in England in 1718. Fewer still may realize that Penn’s descendants played an important, and increasingly unpopular, role in the corning of the American Revolution to Pennsylvania. The Storm Gathering: The Penn Family and the American Revolution, based on Penn family correspon­dence and other contemporary records, recounts this fascinat­ing saga, focusing primarily on Thomas and John Penn, two of the last members of the family to figure significantly in Pennsylvania’s affairs before the colonies declared indepen­dence in 1776. The Storm Gathering opens with Thomas Penn, the founder’s son. Thomas eventually became chief proprietor, grooming his nephew John (sometimes labeled “indolent”) to become governor of the colony. When John Penn assumed his duties in 1763, at the end of the French and Indian War, the Penn family’s proprietorship faced serious problems in managing Pennsylvania. The sheer size of the colony made it difficult, if not impossible, for the heirs to collect their rents, and settlers moving westward clashed with the Native Americans on the frontier, threatening the peaceful relationship that William Penn had established with them. A stubborn legislature resisted the family’s control at nearly every turn, and Benjamin Franklin led an effort to thwart the Penns and make Pennsylvania a royal colony. These seemingly insurmountable domestic problems diverted the Penns’ attention from the growing movement in America toward democracy and independence. By 1768, however, Great Britain’s parliament had passed the Townsend Act, taxing the American colonies, and John Penn and his uncle Thomas began to appreciate the magnitude of their troubles, referring to the growing rift between the colonies and England as “the Storm gathering.” Events began to overtake the Penns by 1775, during which Thomas died and the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord brought war closer. When the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia that summer, John knew that the end of the Penn leadership was near. The following year, as radical sentiment grew, the colonies declared independence from England, and Pennsylva­nia rewrote its constitution, irrevocably divesting the Penn family of governing powers and making the colony a commonwealth. When war broke out, radical patriots forced John Penn into exile, and he eventually retired to his country home, where he waited out the revolution. This engaging account concludes with the end of the Revolution­ary War and its aftermath. While eighteenth century Pennsylvanians undertook the difficult work of reconstructing their government, the Penns attempted to salvage their personal fortunes. Many former officers of the vanquished Penn establishment participated again in government, but the Penns, themselves, were exiled outside of American public life.


Brandywine River Museum: Catalogue of the Collection

by Richard Boyle, et al.
Brandywine Conservancy, 1991 (295 pages, paper, $40.00)

More than three hundred illustrations of works drawn from the holdings of the Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, present a graphic survey of the museum’s varied collections. The purpose of the catalogue is two-fold: to serve as a guide for museum visitors and to document the museum’s holdings for artists and scholars. The catalogue offers basic information on more than fourteen hundred works of art, nearly all of the Brandywine River Museum’s permanent collection. Each annotated entry includes physical descriptions, historical data, and brief interpretive texts. Three hundred and thirty of the most important and representa­tive works, selected on the basis of their aesthetic quality and historical significance, are illustrated, while more than one hundred and fifty pieces are discussed in detail in separate essays. Admirers of Brandywine River Valley artists will find their favorite artists represented by a number of illustrations of distinguished works, including Newell Convers Wyeth (The Hunter, Kidnapped, The Battle at Glens Falls, The Siege of the Round­House, and The Supplicant, among others), Howard Pyle (Washington Taking Leave of His Officers, December 4, 1783, They Used to Drill Every Evening, and The Nation Makers), and Frank Schoonover (Drummer Boy, Canadian Trapper, and Circle of Fire). This work goes far beyond what most individuals may think of as the Brandywine River Valley School and the museum’s holdings, however; also featured are works by Thomas Doughty (Gilpin’s Mill on the Brandywine), Jasper Cropsey (Autumn on the Brandywine River), and William Trost Richards (The Valley of the Brandywine, Chester County). Brandywine River Museum: Catalogue of the Collection will be of great interest to students and scholars of American art, as well as to those interested in “touring” a distinguished Pennsylvania museum through this guide’s insightful narrative and inviting illustrations.


35 Days to Gettysburg

by Mark Nesbitt
Stackpole Books, 1992 (208 pages, cloth, $16.95)

In the summer of 1863, Thomas Lewis Ware, a Confed­erate soldier from rural Georgia, and Franklin Horner, a Union soldier born in Cameron County, Pennsylvania, in 1836, were on their way, with their respective armies, to Gettysburg. During their journeys, these soldiers made daily entries in small, leather-bound diaries they carried in their waist-coat pockets or haversacks. Day by day, as they dutifully marched and made camp, as they waited for orders, and as they listened to rumors of the battles and bloodshed, they recorded their thoughts and experiences until the day when they came almost face-to-face. They wrote about what was impor­tant to them: receiving mail, writing letters, having some­thing to eat, pressing the hand of a friend, surviving combat.. .. 35 Days to Gettysburg: The Campaign Diaries of Two American Enemies traces the story of two youthful combat­ants caught up in one of the most famous and important campaigns in all of history. After two years of warfare and thirty-five days of intense marching along a hundred miles of hot and dusty summer roads, Thomas Ware and Franklin Horner, two Ameri­can enemies, end up fighting on virtually the same battle­field at Gettysburg. One was on the side of a hill later known as Big Round Top, and the other was just a musket shot’s distance away, near a pile of boulders called Devil’s Den by local residents. Pennsylvanian Franklin Horner would return home and tell of his experiences at Gettysburg; Thomas Ware did not survive the battle. With commentary that adds insight and fascinating detail to the unfolding drama, the author places Ware’s and Homer’s unedited diaries into the larger context of the Civil War. He describes the details of everyday camp life, explains the consequences of battles both men heard in the dis­tance, and discusses which camp rumors were true. He also amplifies the diarists’ descriptions of the terrain they traversed and provides an appendix of directions so readers can accurately retrace the march routes. 35 Days to Gettysburg: The Campaign Diaries of Two American Enemies is a firsthand account by two soldiers of one of the greatest military campaigns in the history of the United States. It is also one of the saddest.