News Roundup for a New Month

As we're on the cusp of April and May, the program pages for both are up at the same time (April programs here, May programs here). Be sure to take a look to see what's what on the Trails of History.


The Pennsylvania State Archives will offer "Archives without Tears," their popular 2-day workshop on archival management and care, twice in the weeks ahead - May 24-25 at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum and June 16-17 at the Blair County Genealogical Society. The cost at each location is $30 for both days or $20 for either day (the program is different each day); registration fees include lunch, so it's quite a deal. Register by contacting the location you wish to attend. (You'll find an image of the brochure and more info here and a downloadable version of the brochure and registration form on Blair County Genealogical Society's website.)

Speaking of the State Archives, plans for a new building were announced earlier this week. PHMC has been working with the City of Harrisburg and others to secure property on which to build an updated and expanded facility to house the commonwealth's permanently valuable records and make them available for research. Tuesday's announcement (read about it on PennLive) included the fact that the new building will also house city archives and make them more readily available to the public. The project is expected to take about 4 years to complete; Archives staff are already preparing for the move to the new building.

Download the International Museum Day 2016 poster from ICOM

For those of you who combine a love of museums with a love of Twitter, May has not one, but two, days you should know about. May 12 is Museum Memories Day (#MusMem), where you are asked to share your favorite memories (recent or not-so-recent) of museums you've visited or work with. And May 18 is International Museum Day (#MuseumDay2016), an opportunity for museums all over the world to showcase their programs, exhibits, communities, what have you. UPDATE:May 25 is #MusFavObjects day - share a photo of your favorite museum object with the Twitterverse. Check out PHMC's Twitter account (@PHMC) throughout May (or anytime, for that matter) to see what sites on the Trails of History are sharing. I'll also try to share here on Trailheads or my own Twitter account (@AmyKFox).

The latest edition of PHMC's collections-focused blog, Pennsylvania Treasures, features a 19th-century weathervane that doubled as a commercial sign for blacksmith W. Gerfin. The post was written by Jennifer Royer, who co-curated the new Weathervane exhibit at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. The exhibit, "Weathervanes: Three Centuries of a Pennsylvania Folk Art Tradition," will be on view through December.

If you read Trailheads regularly, you know that I usually encourage folks to vote in the now-annual Museum Dance Off competition (now in its third year as #MDO3). The first round of match-ups is drawing to a close and earlier this week we had a chance to vote for the Chemical Heritage Foundation's video. The focus of the video was an array of women who pursued research in the sciences (some I'd heard of, some I hadn't). Our own Dr. Joseph Priestley (whose American home is part of the PHMC Trails of History) made a cameo appearance (folks from the Chemical Heritage Foundation have supported projects at Priestley House on many occasions). Unfortunately, the video came in 2nd for Round 1, Day 7, so it will not move on to Round 2, which starts on Monday.

Celebrating Earth Day on the Trails of History

If you're looking for ways to enjoy this April weather, be sure to check out the April program page.

Today's post comes from frequent guest blogger Linda Bolla, writing about the Erie Maritime Museum's participation in the local expression of a project called "National Water Dance." The event took place last weekend. I also want to note that Eckley Miners' Village worked with folks from their local Keystone Job Corps Center to plant a tree in honor of Earth Day (I believe this is the second year (or more) that they've done this).

Water Dancers from coast to coast created a “movement choir,” performing simultaneously to draw attention to pressing water issues in the United States. Using the power of art and performance, the goal is to help create a national water ethic that can inform and inspire both performers and audience to take responsibility for conserving and protecting the water we use and enjoy.


The Erie Committee (led by Mercyhurst University Associate Professor of Dance Solveig Santilliano) subtitled the local event “The Ripple Effect” to emphasize our hope that the event would create a ripple throughout Erie, educating the community on water issues and suggesting steps the community can take to improve local water quality.

All participants performed in or near a significant body of water in their own community, so it was no surprise the dance in Erie began at Dobbins Landing, the oldest historic and most accessible pier on Erie Harbor.

Water Dancers at Erie's Dobbins Landing pier (photo by Mark Santilliano)

Performers and audience, led by saxophonist Kevin Timko, then processed along the waterfront to the Erie Maritime Museum, pausing for bits of theater along their way. When the audience arrived, they were greeted by dancers performing vignettes in six separate spaces in the Museum. Unique to the Erie event was the diversity of artistic offerings. In addition to dance, the Museum hosted a visual and sculptural art exhibit (on the 1st Floor through May 8th), the Delaware Gap Jazz Combo, and demonstrating artist, Keiko Miller, who created Japanese screens illustrating the water cycle and incorporating her students’ calligraphy and origami.

Dancers in the Museum's main gallery (photo by Mark Santilliano)
An enthusiastic audience member joins in the dancing (photo by Dana Borczon)

After the audience flowed through the Museum and lobby, where Mercyhurst University student ambassadors led a rainstick activity for children, the event culminated in a main stage celebration, showcasing Mercyhurst University dancers, musicians and vocalists, as well as dancers from many other Erie dance studios. The program was woven around narrative by Dr. Amy Parente of the university’s Chemistry Department, with poetic interludes provided by the middle-school winners of the NW Pennsylvania Poetry Contest.

"Down to the River to Pray," performed by Mercyhurst Dancers (photo by Mark Santilliano)

So, are you inspired yet? Happy Earth Day – and make every day, earth day.

Volunteers of the Year!

Looking for something to do this weekend? Be sure to visit the April program page for ideas.

We've come to the end of National Volunteer Week and the middle of National Volunteer Month, so let's take a look at how sites on the Trails of History are celebrating. A number of sites are highlighting their volunteers on social media - so far I've seen posts from Ephrata Cloister, Hope Lodge, Pennsbury Manor, PA Trails of History, Railroad Museum of PA, State Museum of PA, and Washington Crossing Historic Park.

Honorees, presenters, and guests, April 9, 2016 (photo by Don Giles)
On Saturday, April 9, we gathered at the State Museum of Pennsylvania to honor all PHMC volunteers and to recognize the Volunteer of the Year honorees for service in 2015. Despite the April snow that kept some attendees from making the trip to Harrisburg, it was a festive day. There were many smiling faces as we celebrated the diversity of contributions made by volunteers to the sites on the Trails of History. PHMC Executive Director James Vaughan and Commissioner Fredrick Powell presented each honoree with a resolution from the PHMC, a volunteer pin, and a one-year complimentary membership in the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation. Citations were read by Brenda Reigle, director of the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, and Beth Hager, interim director of the State Museum. Following a light lunch, many of the attendees enjoyed touring the State Museum with Dr. Curt Miner, curator, and volunteer coordinator Amy Jukus.

The honorees are pictured below, and there is a link for each so that you can read more about their activities. Please join me in congratulating them and thanking them for their support of PHMC's historic sites and museums.

Outstanding Service Award (photo by Don Giles)
L to R: Commissioner Fred Powell, honorees Courtney, Patty, and Bob Clendennen, PHMC Executive Director James Vaughan (text of citation)

David Berk (in memoriam), Anthracite Heritage Museum & Scranton Iron Furnaces (citation)

John Amspacher, Brandywine Battlefield Park (citation)

Wendy Stier, Bushy Run Battlefield (citation)

Kim Otto, Conrad Weiser Homestead (citation)

Don Beck, Cornwall Iron Furnace (citation)

Beverly Connor, Daniel Boone Homestead (citation)

Paul Adomites, Drake Well Museum (citation)

Regina Drasher, Eckley Miners' Village (citation)

Jane Koch, Ephrata Cloister (citation)

Jeanne Baker, Erie Maritime Museum & U.S. Brig Niagara (citation)

Carol Brunner, Graeme Park (citation)

John A. Smith, Jr., Hope Lodge (citation)

Michael Kuhns, Joseph Priestley House (caption)

Gloria Stevens, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (caption)

Eileen Gross, Old Economy Village (citation)

Ron Schmid, Pennsbury Manor (citation)

Sam Cooke, PA Lumber Museum (citation)

Thomas Gray, PA Military Museum (caption)

Doug O'Brien, Railroad Museum of PA (Craig Benner photo) (citation)

Kathy Murdy, Somerset Historical Center (citation)

Toni Donchak, State Museum of PA (citation)