Currents

Current and Coming features detailed information about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania. Originated as “Currents.” Retitled “Current and Coming,” Winter 2003, and then retitled “Out and About,” Fall 2005. Revived as “Current and Coming,” Winter 2013. Ran regularly, Spring 1984 to Spring 2008, and then occasionally, Winter 2013 to Spring 2015.

Gear for the Great Outdoors

During the turbulent, often chaotic, decades of the country’s Industrial Revolution, American were as mobile as wheels, waterways and ambition could make them. The population was preoccupied with carving out a new nation, pioneering, surveying, sod busting, prospecting for gold and, generally, eking out a living. As the population shifted, forging new frontiers, there was much camping – but not the recreational type familiar to today’s outdoorsmen. Following the Civil War, many Americans then sought the restorative powers of the wilderness, and enterprising naturalists and outfitters catered to the domestic safaris that became increasingly popular during the closing decades of the nineteenth century.

A slide presentation, “Gear for the Great Outdoors,” part of the State Museum’s ser­ies entitled “Curator’s Cor­ner,” will feature a historical and nostalgic sampling of sporting equipment, clothing and unique gear used from the mid-nineteenth century to after 1900. The presentation will be given by Gail Getz, asso­ciate curator of the museum’s decorative arts department, on Sunday, September 30 [1984], at 2:30 P.M.

Camping necessities – such as folding stoves, boats and mosquito unguents-and sport­ing art, coupled with early lore, enliven the fascinating presentation. Anecdotes col­lected from outfitters, fish­ermen and engaging personali­ties express the flavor of the period. In addition to the slide presentation, a special exhibit of the Phillipe bamboo flyrod and related items will also be mounted.

For more information regard­ing this presentation, write: “Curator’s Corner,” William Penn Memorial Museum, P.O. Box 1026, Harrisburg, PA 17108-1026; or telephone (717) 783-9906.

 

Fine and Decorative Arts Exhibits at The State Museum

The main galleries of the State Museum of Pennsylvania are graced with an unusual exhibition concentrating on the visual, rather than the his­toric, aspects of fine and deco­rative arts. The show, en­titled “With a Tactile Vision,” will continue through Janu­ary 20, 1985.

Fifteen pieces of furniture and twenty textiles from the last century are displayed with two dozen contemporary artworks and paintings. The pieces were selected to demonstrate abstract patterns which con­vey a strong tactile sensation of mass, texture and movement, as well as optical illu­sion. Visitors are restrained from touching the fragile or un­stable surfaces not only for the protection of the works, but to enhance the experience of “feeling” the objects with the eyes.

The furniture, most of it selected from the collections of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, is painted in a variety of pat­terns, ranging from earth-tone graining (of a nature never found in a tree!) to sunbursts of sensational colors. Penn­sylvania artists, including Ned Wert, Indiana; Richard Elliot, Harrisburg; Chet Davis, Paxi­nos; Bob Roberts, Bloomsburg; Bruce Brazzo, Beaver Mea­dows; and Theodore Singer, State College, have loaned works which illustrate a con­tinuing interest in, and an ever-evolving use of non-repre­sentational patterns. Bed­covers – particularly “log cabin,” and “crazy” or “puzzle” pieced works – often surprisingly mir­ror the patterns of both the paintings and the furniture. Although on close inspection the piecing of these works seems random, it was fre­quently manipulated to create bold, sometimes dizzying, patterns when viewed from a distance. The textiles were selected from the State Muse­um’s collection and most date from the late nineteenth century; few have been dis­played in the last ten years.

The State Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Sunday, noon to 5 P.M. Admission is free.

 

Steel and Railroad Collections Given to Canal Museum

Two collections totaling more than 130,000 books, records, maps and blueprints have recently been donated to the Canal Museum/Hugh Moore Park in Easton by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation and the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The museum/park facility is currently negotiating the purchase of a 10,000-square-foot building for use as an archives center to house the new accessions.

Bethlehem Steel Corpora­tion’s Charles Schwab Collec­tion is named for the company president who gained a controlling interest in the corporation in 1901. He merged the company with the U.S. Shipbuilding Company and, in 1904, reorganized his sizable interests as the Bethle­hem Steel Corporation. During his tenure as president, Schwab amassed more than 33,000 books, artifacts, paintings and photographs which comprise one of the most complete collections recording the history of iron and steel manufacturing in existence.

More than 100,000 blueprints and tracings were presented by the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Spanning more than six dec­ades, from the 1890s through the 1950s, they were part of the railroad’s engineering files and include detailed render­ings of tracks, stations and tools. During this period, the Lehigh Valley Railroad was expanding throughout the Northeast, both with its industry-related business and its passenger lines. The railroad declined rapidly near the end of this era and was acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1962.

The Canal Museum maintains an extensive collection relating to the history of canals and allied industries and technologies, including anthracite mining, railroading, and iron and steel manufacturing. The research facility is open Monday through Friday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.; Sunday, 1 to 5 P.M. Additional infor­mation may be obtained by writing: Canal Museum, Hugh Moore Park, 200 South Dela­ware Dr., P.O. Box 877, Easton, PA 18042; or by telephoning (215) 258-7155.

 

Allegheny Portage Railroad Marks 150th Anniversary

It was a century and a half ago that the Allegheny Portage Railroad in central Pennsyl­vania began hauling canal boats and their cargoes over a 1,400-foot elevation to link with another canal operating on the other side of the mountain. The railroad was hailed as a great technological achieve­ment when it opened to traf­fic on March 18, 1834. Many European travelers took the Main Line route in preference to the Erie Canal or other routes to the western states because of the Portage Canal’s reputation as one of the most spectacular and scenic routes in North America.

On Saturday, September 1 [1984], a ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Allegheny Portage Rail­road and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Alle­gheny Portage Railroad Na­tional Historic Site will be held at the park, eight miles west of Altoona on U.S. 22, Summit exit. A model of the “Lafay­ette,” a full-size replica of a locomotive used to haul canal boats, will be unveiled. On loan from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum, Balti­more, Maryland, the locomo­tive was extensively restored and will remain at the site on view for three years. The “Lafayette” will be placed on a section of track forged to exacting historical specifica­tions by a local metal fabricator. The engine and track will remain in front of the historic Lemon House that once served as a tavern and hostelry for the canal and railroad pas­sengers.

During the weekend of Sep­tember 29-30 [1984], volunteer crafts­men will demonstrate and sell their arts and crafts of the Allegheny Portage Railroad period.

For further information re­garding this historic site or other historic properties in Pennsylvania administered by the National Park Service, write: U.S. Department of the Interior, Mid-Atlantic Region, National Park Service, 143 South Third St., Philadelphia, PA 19106; or telephone (215) 597-3679.

 

State Archives to Examine Local Records

The State Archives has re­cently embarked on its most ambitious local records project to date: nine archivists will examine and assess the condi­tion of local records in sixty-six county seats. The twenty­-two month project, entitled “Pennsylvania County Records Survey and Planning Study,” will inventory records main­tained by county governments (except Philadelphia County) covered under the County Rec­ords Act; create a machine­-readable data base to better facilitate the preservation of valuable records, as well as the disposition of useless rec­ords; and gather information on the general condition and storage locations of paper records and microfilm. The project will also develop plans for three model local govern­ment records/archives centers and prepare a major plan­ning document leading to the implementation of a modern and active records manage­ment program for the Commonwealth’s local governments. The project is funded by a federal grant of $213,539 awarded by the National His­torical Publications and Rec­ords Commission.

Between twenty and thirty thousand data sheets will eventually be entered in the offi­cial records of the Pennsyl­vania Department of Education by the state Department of Labor and Industry. The Read­ing engineering/consulting firm of Gilbert/Commonwealth is currently evaluating the storage needs of seven coun­ties – Allegheny, Bedford, Chester, Cumberland, Erie, Lackawanna and York – to generate the three model plans to be shared with other county governments desiring to reno­vate existing structures or con­struct new storage facilities.

Throughout the entire proc­ess., fifteen archivists will be involved in the various stages of this project. The pro­gram was endorsed by the statewide County Records Committee, representing six hundred county officials, and the State Historical Rec­ords Advisory Board, a com­mittee representing historical records interests in the Com­monwealth.

For additional information, write: Dr. Roland M. Bau­mann, Project Director, County Records Survey Project, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, P.O. Box 1026, Harrisburg, PA 17108-1026; or telephone (717) 787- 2761.

 

Exhibit Celebrates First Textile College’s 100th Anniversary

Nineteen eighty-four marks the one hundredth anni­versary of the founding of the nation’s oldest and only pri­vate textile college, the Phila­delphia College of Textiles and Science. The institution traces its beginnings to a woolen yard merchant, Theo­dore C. Search, who visited the 1876 Centennial Exposition in the city’s Fairmount Park and was greatly disturbed by the poor quality and unimagi­native design of American textiles, especially when com­pared to European imports.

Search’s dream was to estab­lish an institution that would train textile workers with modern equipment and in ad­vanced designs. He approached the Philadelphia Textile Manu­facturers Association in 1883 with a plan to raise $50,000 from local textile manufac­turers to finance the institu­tion. Unfortunately, Search’s plan coincided with an eco­nomic downturn and a reduc­tion in the tariff on worsted goods, impairing his own busi­ness and many others. He was able to raise only $35,000 but, undeterred and optimistic, he rented a room in downtown Philadelphia in the spring of 1884. He enrolled five students and taught eve­ning classes. His enterprise caught the attention of fellow businessmen and a second fundraising attempt was more successful, enabling the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science to gain a firm footing and become the nation’s first textile college.

After the school’s founding it became affiliated with the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (now the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and in 1894 the insti­tutions shared quarters at Broad and Pine streets, now the home of the Philadelphia College of Art. In 1949, prompted by expanding enroll­ment, the school relocated to the East Falls section of the city. Known as the Phila­delphia Textile Institute and severed from its ties with the museum school, the college launched an active campaign to further expand. In 1960 the institute became the Phila­delphia College of Textiles and Science.

Today, 3,000 day and evening students are enrolled in the college which offers degrees in business, the sciences, and textiles and apparel. One-third of the student body is en­rolled in textile-related curricu­lum, and the college remains a major source of trained gradu­ates for the $50 billion United States textile and apparel industries. NASA’s space shut­tle astronauts use hand heat­-shields developed and manufac­tured by the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, and faculty members selected and tested the fabric used for the “Great American Flag,” the 21-story, 8-ton flag kept in Washington, D.C., and unfurled on national holidays. Other research devel­opments include triaxial woven fabrics for aerospace and industrial uses, and com­posites used for artificial heart valves, bones, tendons and ligaments.

To celebrate the landmark year, the college’s Goldie Paley Design Center will open an exhibition documenting the his­tory of the textile industry in Pennsylvania on Thursday, September 20 [1984]. “The Phila­delphia System of Textile Man­ufacturers, 1884-1984,” on view through November 24, will depict a highly specialized industry in which skill and flexibility played extremely im­portant roles. The history of one mill will be explored, and the decline, as well as the strategies for the survival of the industry, will also be addressed. The Paley Center is the college’s repository of historic fabrics and serves as its gallery. The facility is located at 4200 Henry Avenue, Philadelphia. Visiting hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Admis­sion is free. For additional in­formation, telephone (215) 951-2861. This exhibit is only one of the college’s special events sponsored in conjunc­tion with the one hundredth anniversary celebration.

 

Anthracite Region to be Studied

Pennsylvania’s anthracite region – basically encompass­ing Lackawanna, Luzerne, Schuylkill and Carbon coun­ties – represents, in many respects, a microcosm of nine­teenth century industrial society. The area was the prin­cipal source of hard coal from the 1820s onward and the availability of employment in the deep mines and in auxiliary services attracted a succession of immigrants. Welsh, Eng­lish, Irish and German im­migrants who began settling in the area as mines opened were followed after 1870 by waves of Poles, Slovaks, Lithu­anians, Italians, Ukrainians, Russian Jews and other nation­alities from Eastern and South­ern Europe. By 1900, sixty­-three percent of the population consisted of immigrants or children of immigrants, repre­senting more than twenty-six different ethnic groups.

The social disorganization in­herent in immigration was intensified in the anthracite region by the boom-and-bust cycles which characterized the industry and also by abuses, such as company-owned stores and housing, typical of single-industry economies. Immigrants responded by creating complex subcultures and vesting special importance in the traditional structures of their ethnic communities: the church, the ethnic press, and fraternal and social societies.

The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, Philadelphia, is conducting a two-year project to survey and collect ethnic source materials in northeast­ern Pennsylvania’s anthracite region. The Anthracite Re­gion Ethnic Archives Project will identify and survey the records of ethnic organizations in the area, as well as pap­ers and documents of selected immigrants and ethnic lead­ers. The project will also attempt to transfer significant material to archival custody for safekeeping. Upon comple­tion of the project, a guide to ethnic source materials will be published. The project is funded by a grant from the Na­tional Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and cooper­ating institutions include the Anthracite Museum Com­plex administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; the Uni­versity of Scranton Library; the Archives of Industrial Soci­ety, University of Pittsburgh; the Lackawanna Historical Society; the Scranton Public Library; and the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society.

Information regarding the project may be obtained by writ­ing: Susan McKinney, An­thracite Region Ethnic Archives Project, The LUCAN Center for the Arts, 232 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, PA 18503; or by telephoning (717) 344-7088.

 

Historic Fallsington Events

The village of Fallsington in Bucks County is one of the earliest settlements estab­lished in Pennsylvania. Settlers arrived during the 1680s and the village grew up around a Quaker meeting house built in 1690. The earliest houses were constructed of logs, fol­lowed by stone. Today, the village’s structures represent distinct architectural styles once popular in America, and evidenced by large, Federal­-type buildings and extravagant Victorian period structures. At least two dozen eighteenth century houses survive with­out much alteration.

Historic Fallsington, Inc., was created in 1953 by a group of residents to save the Burges-­Lippincott House. The struc­ture was listed for sale and faced an uncertain future. Pre­served intact by the organi­zation, the Burges-Lippincott House was built in four stages, from about 1700 to 1829, and is noted for its elegant interior appointments, particularly a delicately carved fireplace and a stairway boasting a hand­some wall bannister.

Residents will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of His­toric Fallsington Day, which features tours of the house­-museums, several private resi­dences, carriage rides, crafts demonstrations and sales, and other special events, on Saturday, October 13 [1984], from 10 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Admission is charged.

On Sunday, November 11 [1984], from noon to 5 P.M., the village’s museum buildings will be festively decorated with freshly cut greens, holly, fruits and garland for “A Fallsing­ton Christmas.” In addition to the holiday decorations, ob­jects and artifacts from the museum collections not nor­mally exhibited will make up a special display. Crafts demonstrations and performances of holiday music are also planned.

Further information may be obtained by writing: Historic Fallsington, 4 Yardley Ave., Fallsington, PA 19054; or by telephoning (215) 295-6567.

 

Impressionist Exhibit Reveals New Hope School

Opening September 16 [1984] at the Allentown Art Museum and continuing through No­vember 25 [1984] is an exhibition of eighty paintings by eleven artists associated with the New Hope school. The exhibit, entitled “The Pennsylvania School of Landscape Painting: An Original American Im­pressionism,” traces the de­velopment of the artists’ colony from the turn of the century when the picturesque small town on the Delaware River attracted artists William L. Lathrop (1859-1938), Edward Redfield (1869-1965) and later Daniel Garber (1880-1958). These artists produced a type of painting in the impres­sionistic style, but one which was identified by critics at the time as being particularly American. This is the first comprehensive exhibition to treat the Pennsylvania im­pressionists.

Significant second-genera­tion painters in the exhibit are Charles Rosen (1878-1959) and Robert Spencer (1879-1931). John Fulton Folinsbee (1892-1972) and Walter Emerson Baum (1884-1956) are the major third-generation painters asso­ciated with the Bucks County art colony. Artists Rae Sloan Bredin (1881-1933), Morgan Colt (1876-1926), Walter Elmer Schofield (1867-1944) and Henry Bayley Snell (1858-1943) are also featured in the show for their associations with New Hope.

Although they were among the most celebrated painters of their time, exhibiting in large number at the Panama­Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, in 1915, the artists’ essential conservatism relegated them to progressive critical oblivion during en­suing decades. “The Penn­sylvania School of Landscape Painting” seeks to redress this neglect by providing a ret­rospective look at their work which spans the years 1898 to 1940.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum is organiz­ing a day-long symposium on American impressionism for Wednesday, October 24.

Following its Allentown showing, the exhibition will travel to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., December 14 [1984] through February 10, 1985; the Westmoreland County Museum of Art, Greensburg, March 2 through May 5 [1985]; and the Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, June 1 through September 2 [1985]. A catalog accompanies the show.

The Allentown Art Museum is located at Fifth and Court streets. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Sunday, 1 to 5 P.M. For more information, write: Allentown Art Mu­seum, P.O. Box 117, Allentown, PA 18105; or telephone (215) 432-4333.

 

“A Growing American Treasure” to Debut in Philadelphia

Founded in 1805, the Penn­sylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in center-city Phila­delphia, is the oldest art institution in North America. For nearly two centuries the Academy has collected, exhib­ited and taught art, and its building, a richly decorated edifice at Broad and Cherry streets designed by Frank Fur­ness, is considered, in itself, a great masterpiece.

A new exhibition of recently acquired pieces in the Acad­emy’s distinguished perma­nent collection of American art will open on September 21 [1984] and continue through April 28, 1985. “The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: A Growing American Treasure” features selections from the institution’s collection of 1,550 paintings, 250 pieces of sculp­ture and more than 5,000 works on paper – watercolors, drawings and prints. The varied collections contain works spanning three centuries of the nation’s artistic growth and maturity.

The exhibition will be ac­companied by an illustrated 32-page catalog containing a complete checklist of acces­sions since 1977 and essays by the Academy’s curators dis­cussing highlights in the areas of contemporary art, nine­teenth century painting, sculp­ture and graphic arts. The catalog and accompanying museum programs will focus on the Academy’s history as a repository of American art, and its role in the present as col­lector and exhibitor. The “how” and “why” of museum acquisition, including schol­arly research, will be discussed in an effort to tell the story of the Academy.

More information regarding the exhibition is available by writing: Pennsylvania Acad­emy of the Fine Arts, Broad and Cherry Sts., Philadelphia, PA 19102; or by telephoning (215) 972-7600.

 

Pennsbury Manor’s Fall Forum

Historic preservation for the homeowner will be addressed during the twentieth annual fall forum conducted by Penns­bury Manor, the re-created country plantation of founder William Penn on the banks of the Delaware River in Bucks County. The event will be held Friday and Saturday, Sep­tember 28-29 [1984].

Owners of old houses usu­ally are enchanted with the space and decoration of their properties, but often are baf­fled by the history and how to interpret or enhance it. The forum will discuss these issues by combining a scholarly look at historic preservation with practical workshops on dealing with an individ­ual older or historic structure. Workshops will include prac­tical advice to approaching comprehensive planning and actual implementation, and exhibits and demonstrations will augment the technical assistance aspects.

Other subjects are social trends and their influence on house design and architec­tural styles; use of rooms and houses; researching a build­ing’s history; a survey of architectural styles; and theo­retical and practical approaches to preservation. Interior de­sign and decoration and land­scaping will also be discussed by expert panelists and speakers.

Forum information and regis­tration applications are avail­able by writing: Fall Forum, Pennsbury Manor, 400 Penns­bury Memorial Rd., Morrisville, PA 19067; or by telephoning (215) 946-0400.

 

Millersburg Hosts Arts and Crafts Fair

Millersburg’s former railroad passenger station, built in 1897, will benefit from the fourth annual arts and crafts fair sponsored by the Historical Society of Millersburg and Upper Paxton Township on Saturday, October 6 [1984]. The structure has been acquired by the society and is being pain­stakingly restored.

The event will also support a major project locating, iden­tifying and microfilming old area newspapers. Current microfilm holdings exceed 40,000 newspaper pages dating to 1856 and are available to the public for research and study at the Johnson Memorial Library in Millersburg.

Founded in 1807, Millers­burg is situated twenty-eight miles north of Harrisburg at the confluence of the Susque­hanna River and the Wico­nisco Creek in the verdant Lykens Valley. One of its most popular visitors’ attractions is the Millersburg Ferry, estab­lished prior to 1817, which still operates daily from dawn to dusk. Two boats – the “Fal­con” and the “Roaring Bull” – each transport four cars and sixty passengers across the mile-wide river. The ferry is the last in operation on the Susquehanna River and is the only wooden-stern, paddle­wheel ferry in the country.

More information about the arts and crafts fair or his­toric properties in the area is available by writing: His­torical Society of Millersburg and Upper Paxton Town­ship, P.O. Box 171, Millers­burg, PA 17061.