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Civil War 150 Road Show to Make Stop at Penn State

by on July 08, 2012 6:00 AM

From Thursday through next Sunday, the Centre County Historical Society will join with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Pennsylvania Heritage Society to host the Pennsylvania Civil War 150 Road Show.

It is a 53-foot expandable tractor trailer exhibit about the Civil War and its impact on Pennsylvania.

Housed in the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot, the Civil War 150 Road Show will convey numerous accounts of how Pennsylvania residents experienced the war through interactive features, an LED-lit map, Civil War era photographs and music, hands-on artifacts, animated stories, online scrapbooking and a story recording booth.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Mary Sorensen, the executive director of the Centre County Historical Society, said people can record 90-second stories about the impact that the Civil War may have had or their interests in the Civil War.

As the host organization, the Centre County Historical Society was required to coordinate road show programming and volunteers, as well as offer additional programming pertaining to the Civil War.

Centre County Historical Society Program Coordinator Megan Orient said members of the historical society have been coordinating with many other local organizations to offer this additional and unique programming for Pennsylvania history buffs.

“The road show is a really unique opportunity for citizens to come and learn about the Civil War in a way that maybe they haven’t experienced it before. There is something that is unique that may only happen once in a lifetime and that is celebrating or commemorating the Civil War as a group,” Orient said.

One such organization is the research group comprised of Bob Hazelton, Susan Evans, Cathy Horner and Nancy Taylor. On Friday, Hazelton, Evans, Horner and Taylor will present their research of Emma Hunter, Sophie Kellar and Elizabeth Myers, the three Boalsburg women who are said to have organized the first Memorial Day, at the Centre County Visitor Center.

“My hope is that it (the presentation) just continues the history. If we don’t keep hearing about things, then it’s lost. One of the things by us doing this presentation is a step forward for Emma, Sophie and Elizabeth, so their stories aren’t lost. By doing this, we keep history alive,” Horner said.

Another additional program will include performances by Tom Jolin, a one-man Civil War era instrumentalist, Sunday at the visitor center.

Both Orient and Sorensen believe Pennsylvanians of all ages can benefit from the learning experience the road show provides. All visitors are encouraged to share any Civil War artifacts or family stories they may have while at the road show.

“If there are things that they bring, photos and documents, it helps to connect the dots. Whether it’s Centre County, Clinton County, Blair County, so-on and so-on, the Civil War really knew no county borders and so it helps to fill in the blacks for a more comprehensive story in the end.

“Folks can come here and not only learn about the history of the battles and things, but just a greater experience of what was going on in our country at the time,” Orient said. “I think it’s a really good opportunity for folks to maybe take a second look at the Civil War history that we’ve been taught and see it in a new light.”

Sam is a correspondent for the Gazette.
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