PHMC Highlights presents stories and information about PHMC programs, events, exhibits and activities.

Beatrice Hulsberg, curator for The State Museum of Pennsylvania, is overseeing the conservation of a rare, circa 1790 creamware bowl bearing the portraits of Benjamin Franklin and George Washing­ton that will be featured in the landmark traveling exhibit, “Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World.” Attributed to England’s legendary maker Josiah Wedg­wood, the bowl, which had been poorly mended years ago, is being disassembled, thoroughly cleaned, and painstakingly repaired. It will join the exhibition, sponsored by the Benjamin Franklin Ter­centenary to observe the three hundredth anniversary of the founding father’s birth, as it travels to St. Louis, Missouri, Hous­ton, Texas, Denver, Colorado, Atlanta, Georgia, and Paris, France.

 

Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, shattering families and for­ever changing the lives of survivors. As Tobi Gilson, administrative officer for the PHMC’s Bureau of Management Services, watched the televised coverage of the storm and its aftermath, she decided she “could no longer sit back and do noth­ing.” A registered nurse, she immediately went to the local chapter of the American Red Cross and, following six hours of training, was deployed to Houston, Texas, within twenty-four hours. Gilson worked as a triage nurse at the makeshift shelter at the Reliant Cen­ter, adjacent to the Astrodome, where she helped assess the health concerns and needs of forty-five hundred evacuees from New Orleans. Gilson, who worked twelve hours a day (and often stayed later to comfort victims), described her stint as “life altering,” adding that it “was the most heartwarming, emotional, and rewarding experience I have ever had.”

 

The PHMC commemorated the centennial of The State Museum of Pennsylvania with the dedication of a state historical marker on September 21, 2005. Director Anita D. Blackaby spoke on the museum’s history, noting that it is among the oldest state museums in the country. The museum was created on March 28, 1905, with legislation signed by Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker. Also taking part in the program were Senator Jim Ferlo, a legislative member of the Commission, PHMC Chairman Wayne S. Spilove, and PHMC Executive Director Barbara Franco. A history of the museum is available on online at www.statemuse­umpa.org.

 

On October 18, 2005, Governor Edward G. Rendell unveiled Honoring the Past, Planning for the Future: Pennsylvania’s Historic Preservation Plan, 2006-2011, a document charting the future of historic preservation in the Keystone State. “Preservation not only recognizes the im­portance of our common history,” the governor observed, “but is a powerful tool for economic development and moving Pennsylvania into the twenty-first century.” The PHMC hosted the plan’s launch, held in the rotunda of the State Capitol, to observe the twenty-fifth an­niversary of the State Historic Preservation Board.

 

Less than one week before he died on November 1, 2005, at his home in New Milford, Conn., Grammy Award-winning conductor Skitch Henderson visited a state historical marker installed by the PHMC in Shenan­doah, Schuylkill County, honoring jazz trombonist Tommy Dorsey and his brother, big band leader Jimmy Dorsey. “I knew Tommy as one of the house trombonists at CBS in New York,” Henderson recalled. “He played Cafe Rouge, in the Hotel Pennsylvania. That’s one of the last bands in the Cafe Rouge, where all of us spent time.” Born Lyle Russell Cedric Henderson in
1918 in England, he lent his musical expertness to Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby before NBC tapped him as bandleader for the Tonight Show in 1954. In 1983, Hender­son founded the New York Pops, for which he served as music director and guest conductor until his death.

 

Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein served as the keynote speaker for the Archives and Records Management Seminar, cosponsored by the PHMC, on October 6, 2005, at Grantville. State Archivist David M. Haury presented Weinstein with a copy of Documenting Pennsylvania’s Past: The First Century of the Pennsylvania State Archives, published in 2003 by the PHMC. The seminar drew registrants from throughout Pennsylvania and adjoining states.

 

Robert A. Janosov, of Sheatown, Luzerne County, named a member of the PHMC by Governor Edward G. Ren­dell in 2003, died at the age of sixty-two on October 26, 2005. Commissioner Janosov, professor emeritus of history at northeast­ern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County Community College, actively researched, published, and promoted the history and heritage of the anthracite region. He contributed to a number of preservation projects, nominations for state historical markers, and historical publications. He was also a member of Pennsylvania’s State Historic Preservation Board. His article, “Con­crete City, Garden Village of the Anthracite Region,” appeared in the Summer 1997 edition of Pennsylvania Heritage.

 

With a field assistant, Robert M. Sulli­van, PhD, senior curator of paleontology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, discovered a pelvis of an ankylosaurid dinosaur during Summer 2005 in the Upper Cretaceous rocks of the San Juan Basin, New Mexico. Dr. Sullivan had named this dinosaur in 1999, based on an incomplete skull, which is now in the holdings of The State Museum. The pelvis is significant because there are few known specimens and this example is of special interest because it is new to science and will help in determining the relationship of Nodocephalosaurus to other members of the family. Dr. Sullivan has researched di­nosaurs and fossil vertebrates from western North America for twenty-five years. He recently was invited to present a paper on pachycephalosaurid (dome­headed) dinosaurs at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Canada’s Dinosaur Provincial Park held at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Drumheller, Alberta. Dr. Sullivan and Spencer G. Lucas coauthored “Edward Drinker Cope, Pennsylvania’s Greatest Naturalist,” which appeared in the Fall 2005 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage.

 

A drum circle, among other special activities, opened, “Our Voices: Refugee and Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories,” an exhibit at The State Museum of Pennsylvania on September 11, 2005. (A drum circle, or drumming, gathers participants into a circle to make music with percus­sion instruments; many cultures possess distinctive musical traditions, and a drum circle helps preserve and transmit their identities in a relatively traditional form.) “Our Voices,” continuing through December 31, 2005, is based on oral history narratives, traditions, and lives of refugee and immigrant women who have made Pennsylvania their home. The women emigrated from the Bahamas, Cambodia, China, India, Finland, Uganda, and Moldova, among places.

 

As the PHMC broke ground for a new $3.2 million, 16,000-square-foot visitor center at Pennsbury Manor in Bucks County on October 19, Nicholas DeBene­dictis, chairman and president of Aqua America, a Bryn Mawr-based water company which has operations in the county, said the project will be founded by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services and corporate donations of one million dollars will underwrite the new facility’s exhibits, as well as create an endowment fund to continue innovative programming. DeBenedictis, who also chairs the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, described the historic site “as one of the true gems in the field.” When completed in December 2006, the visitor center will include a dedicated classroom with distance learning capabilities, an auditorium seating near two hundred, a library, and exhibit space devoted to William Penn and his country house on the banks of the Delaware River.

 

Episode one of the wildly popular CBS reality show, “The Amazing Race 8 (The Family Edition),” aired on September 27, 2005, took contestants to the PHMC’s Washington Crossing Historic Park in Bucks County. Ten teams, each made up of a family of four, are pitted against one another this season on a whirlwind race across the world to be the first to arrive at the final destination and win one million dollars. The first contestants to arrive at Washington Crossing rowed a boat across the choppy Delaware River to the New Jersey bank – retracing George Washington’s crossing on December 25, 1776 -­ where they retrieved a thirteen-star flag and returned to Pennsylvania, strenuously paddling against the strong current of the river. Upon returning to Pennsylvania, they observed a flag-folding ceremony to earn their next clue. From Washington Crossing Historic Park, the teams traveled to Philadelphia, where they camped at the Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park.

 

The Mohegan Indian Tribe’s venerable medicine woman, Gladys Tantaquid­geon died at her home in Uncasville, Conn., at the age of 106 on November 1, 2005. Born in 1899, a tenth-generation descendant of Uncas (circa 1588-1682), the famed Mohegan chief, she watched her tribe grow from a handful of Mohegan families in Uncasville struggling to keep their heritage alive to a federally recognized tribe that owns and operates one of the most successful casinos in the world. Tantaquidgeon, who studied anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, was the author of the classic monograph A Study of Delaware Indian Medicine Practices and Folk Beliefs, published in 1942 by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission (forerunner of the present-day PHMC, and reprinted by the PHMC in 1972, 1995, and 2001 as Folk Medicine of the Delaware and Related Algonkian Indians. Tantaquidgeon’s passing was covered by major publica­tions, including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and Time magazine.